Ways To Help Children Cope With A Difficult Parent

Dealing with a difficult parent

Children need support when a parent is bitter and vindictive post-divorce. The mum or dad may have a personality disorder and are incapable of parenting in a nurturing way. When a difficult parent takes centre stage and the youngsters treated as bit players, it is important to explain that it is not their fault. Children need to know that when indifference is shown or caustic remarks overheard, it is the parent’s issue, and not them causing it. When a parent is toxic, kids can be quick to blame themselves. It is a balancing act to get support for your children while at the same time not making disparaging remarks yourself about their other parent. Give children extra cuddles and attention. Let then know that they are loveable. Point out their talents and strengths as one way to build up self-esteem which may have been affected by being around negativity.

Discuss various strategies on how to deal with problems in an uncomfortable situation

My sons got angry hearing nasty comments about me, from their father and his mother. There were ways to handle it, such as by using “I statements.” “I don’t want to hear…..” Other ideas were they could quickly change the subject or walk away to somewhere else. The boys had specific actions which helped them to feel more empowered.

Supportive people

Have a neutral third party available who can listen to the children’s concerns when time spent with a toxic parent is not going well. My sons reported this continual situation to their therapist and to the court appointed mediator, who was overseeing shared time post-divorce. This situation did improve slightly when their father realized that professionals were looking over his shoulder. Supervised visitation or at a Children’s Contact Centre may be warranted, when a parent is using the children to get back at the other one. If children do not feel safe, then visitation is not productive.

Connections

When it is hard to deal a parent out for revenge, my older son suggested connecting to a Higher Power – whatever is in your belief system. Singing in the choir and spirituality gave him support from something outside of himself. Divorce support groups for children help them to realize that they are not alone. Connections with others, such as through sports or after school activities lead to positive experiences.

Volunteering

Volunteering takes the focus off your child’s situation. One teenager felt appreciated when taking care of cats who depended upon him at a rescue charity. It increased his self-worth when he felt needed. Another teen was a chess coach at a primary school. Watching the youngsters become enthusiastic about chess under his guidance was gratifying. Being called “The chess god” was a nice bonus. Both of these fellows had a rough time with a parent post-divorce, and volunteering helped life to be happier.

Life is about balance

We may be stressed by divorce and have a serious outlook. Children require fun, especially when going through tough periods. They need play and some unstructured time for creative pursuits. Take them to the park, the beach, to a festival or whatever your family enjoys. Kids will get through dealing with a difficult parent easier, when the other one is relaxed and full of fun. That is how my sons made it through their stressful situation. We watched comedies, took holidays, gave back to others through volunteering and maintained connections to people. Make sure to take care of yourself, so that you have the energy to be there for your children.

This article was originally published in The Divorce Magazine  https://www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Teaching Teens to Love Themselves From the Inside Out

girl-1848477_960_720Teens, and especially teenage girls, often suffer with body image issues brought on by multitude of factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include puberty-induced weight gain and media portrayal of the ideal female body.

A healthy body image is vital for overall physical and mental health and development. As a parent, you will play an important role in helping your child learn to love themselves and to be comfortable in their body. It starts with loving yourself. After all, your children will learn their behaviors from you, and if you constantly express dissatisfaction with your own body, how are they to learn to love theirs?

Talking about body image  

While it may be uncomfortable, you must realize that, as your teen is developing physically, they are also becoming more aware of their own sexuality. This is where most body image issues begin. Talk to your children about the changes that will happen as they exit childhood and begin to experience puberty. Weight gain is a normal part of this process. It is not uncommon, however, for young children to display signs of having a negative body image. This is especially true of kids who display characteristics of self-criticism and perfectionism.

Social media messages  

Media, especially social media, is full of other people’s opinions on the perfect body. And since teenagers are spending more and more time in front of the screen, they begin to believe that the unrealistically thin Instagram model they follow exhibits the only possible traits associated with beauty. When social media impacts a child’s body image, it may be time to unplug. Monitor your child’s Internet usage and, if possible, limit her exposure to those platforms that make her question her physique.

Boys have body image issues, too  

The Atlantic recently featured an editorial on body image issues in boys. Don’t overlook your son and his struggles with self-esteem. Unlike girls, boys tend to focus on gaining weight, specifically muscle mass. Another body image issue for young men is the constant struggle to display masculinity.

The dark side of the quest for perfection  

Body image issues can trigger a host of other problems for teenagers. These include depression and social anxiety and may turn in to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a mental health condition characterized by distress over a particular aspect of the body. Tara Well, Ph.D. goes into greater detail on BDD in this Psychology Today post. Concerns over body image can also trigger eating disorders. There are many different types of eating disorder. The most common are anorexia and bulimia. Warning signs of these include weight fluctuations, extreme weight loss and avoiding social situations that revolve around food. If you suspect an eating disorder, pay close attention to your teen’s behavior. If he or she disappears or regularly visits the bathroom after eating, this could be a sign of purging (intentional vomiting in an effort reduce the amount of calories consumed).

If you suspect an eating disorder it’s imperative to get help immediately. Unhealthy eating habits can cause cardiovascular issues, slowed digestion, constipation, and neurological disorders. The National Eating Disorder Association also reports that eating disorders can wreak havoc on the body’s endocrine system, resulting in lowered levels of vital hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and those that control the thyroid.

Embracing diversity  

Finally, your children should be taught to embrace diversity. Remind them that the world is comprised of people from all walks of life. People come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses that shape who they are. Help teens find those things that make them unique.

Body image issues don’t have to ruin your teen’s life. Help him or her learn to love their body, and you’ll set them on a path toward a healthy future.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

Five Things Learned From A Decade In The Divorce-Sphere

I’ll start this article with a statement no-one can disagree with: divorce, irrespective of what may have caused it, is  difficult. Marriage, after all, is an institution founded on hope; on the belief that whilst there may be difficult times ahead, both spouses are better together than they are alone. Accepting that this is no longer the case is tough – but it can be made easier!

For the past ten years, I’ve worked with people who have been going through divorce. During this time, I’ve learnt that by approaching your divorce in the right way, you can make it significantly less painful and harmful, for both yourself and anyone else who may be involved.

Here are the five most important things I’ve learned about divorce and why they’ll help you and others through the process:

Be kind to yourself

We all tend to be analytical when things go wrong. This isn’t necessarily harmful, unless you start being hard on yourself. Instead, be kind to yourself by reminding yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that you’re going to learn from them.

By treating yourself well, you’ll naturally be more empathetic meaning that you’ll be kinder to not just yourself but your soon-to-be former spouse, children and anyone else, too.

Dispel your expectations

One of the main reasons divorce is difficult is that, once we’ve decided our marriage needs to end, we also know that much of what we had envisaged for the future is now no longer possible or has fundamentally changed. By letting go of your expectation and going with the flow, you’ll be better prepared for the emotional twists and turns that lie ahead.

Let others do for you

During testing times, there’ll be moments when staying strong just isn’t an option. Try to ‘power-through’ every difficult moment during a divorce and you’ll find yourself feeling overwhelmed. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that you establish a support network of empathetic, caring and approachable friends and family.

Don’t forget that it’s equally important that you ask for help when you need it, though. You’d be amazed how many people tell those closest to them about the fact that they’re getting a divorce only to then feel too embarrassed or even ashamed to call or visit them when they’re finding things difficult.

Everyone needs help from time to time and there’s no shame in that! Divorce is tough, so it’s only natural to reach out for that little bit of help every now and then.

Find the positives

We know that ending a marriage has negative consequences. You’re not going to be able to split your household bills anymore; you’ll be solely responsible for the children most of the time or won’t see them as often; there’ll be more evenings without adult company. Yes, there are drawbacks, but remember that you’re getting divorced for a reason, so try and find the positives.

Whether it’s using the weekends when the children are away for some ‘me time’, being able to decorate your home the way you always wanted to or anything else, there are always positives provided you’re willing to look for them.

Don’t fight your thoughts

Considering that this article has previously advised readers to refrain from beating themselves up, to avoid expectations and promote positive thoughts over negative ones, this advice may seem contradictory, but there’s a big difference between having negative thoughts and indulging them.

Sadly, we will always have negative thoughts – we’re hardwired to and stress only exacerbates this. Whilst they’re inevitable, though, this is largely automated and, by simply letting them be, we’ll be less likely to look for solutions. This, in turn, prevents us from ruminating – which is actually what makes negative thoughts a cause of genuine worry and discomfort.

Conclusion:

There can be little doubt that ending a marriage is a process that is more than capable of having significant and adverse effect on all involved but, by adhering to the advice given above whenever possible, this can be largely negated.   

Jay Williams, author of this article,  works for Quickie Divorce, an online provider of divorce solutions. He lives in Cardiff, Wales with his wife and two-year-old daughter, Eirys.