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Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.
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You Spill Out Onto Your Kids?
friend only said, her son looked like his father. Unfortunately that was
enough to create distain. From then on, she
treated him differently.
She was unable to look at her son and not think of her former husband. Every
time she looked at him, she was reminded of the abuse she endured at the hands
of his father. Every misdeed by her son was taken as evidence of having his
fatherís personality. She grew cold and aloof and wanted to distance herself
from him yet was unable to see him go live with his father. She still needed
to protect her son from him. He is only three. Who protects him from her
- his mother?
he looked at his daughter, he saw her mother. At 14 she gained an interest in
boys. She grew flirtatious and he was worried she was promiscuous. He knew his
own influence upon her was tenuous, the likely outcome of having missed too
many life events. With concern he blurted out, "Youíre acting like a slut and
thatís why I left your mother." It didnít matter what he meant to say, what
he did say was more than enough. She broke curfew and their conflict
escalated. She ran into the arms of yet another new boyfriend. Whatever
influence he thought he had evaporated. He intensified the very situation he
was looking to resolve. Who protects her from him
- her father?
a distressful separation and divorce whilst raising children, can create any
number of challenges. Chief among those challenges is separating oneís
issues with a former partner from those of our children. As much as some
parents will complain about the behaviour of the children being influenced by
the other parent, it may very well be oneís own behaviour that is creating
or co-creating the troubles.
may believe they are sheltering their children from untoward feelings about
the other parent, but the truth is, we exude our feelings like a heavy dose of
garlic after a good ethnic meal. The
phone rings and we bristle. We see each other at exchanges and our shoulders
meet our ears. We hear their voice and we grimace. We wear our emotions
plainly, even when we think not. When we do, our children are there to observe
and learn. Worst case scenario, we hold our children accountable for traits
that remind us negatively of the other parent.
children are only looking to cope themselves. They are caught in a no manís
land seeking to survive the bombs going off overhead. Bombs that would
have each parent destroy the other, the very people on whom the child rely for
children still require your nurturing, guidance and love. It is never
appropriate to advise a child of a negative trait akin to the other parent.
Causing a child to feel bad about themselves for matters they may have no or
little control over is demoralizing. This simply undermines self esteem Ė a
necessary ingredient that protects against exploitation and facilitates the
desire to accomplish great things.
you want your children to develop well, concentrate on their strengths. Listen
non-judgementally to their concerns. Facilitate accomplishments and celebrate
them. Focus on your childís achievements. Keep them out of the fray. Deal
with matters concerning your former partner only when your children are not in
your company, not in the home. After dealing with contentious issues, gain
your composure before being in the company of your children. Let the smell of
the garlic wear off, lest this off-putting perfume overwhelm your child.
see your child as a unique human being whose only influence is your own. That
way you concentrate on the only thing you may have control of: yourself.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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