When parents split
Ahh, the tough topic. Look, I won’t bother you with theory or lectures –when parents split it’s the worst, but the decision has been made. So now what?
Think of the children!
Your preteens are going through a tough time as it is. Parents splitting up adds to the pressure so with any anger that comes out of them, just remember it has (almost) nothing to do with you as a parent. It’s their accumulated life situations and trust me, you would have had to deal with this anyway. It may seem magnified just because of what’s going on with you, but it’s completely normal – you still have to look forward to the time when they become teenagers, so don’t take out all your energy on them just yet.
Don’t give in
I had this friend when I was a teen…her parents were going through a messy divorce, and she was absolutely loving it! The divorce gave her the power to demand and actually get a brand new car, a tattoo, piercings in obscene places, and too many clothes I bet she never wore. Any mention of the word “no” was followed by water works from her and she ended up getting anything she wanted. I mean come on, preteens and teens are not stupid – they will find a way to make this benefit them.
But guess what? You don’t have to do what they tell you. News flash: you’re the parent – you make the rules, so don’t give in to ridiculous wants and wishes. Saying “no” is actually okay. I’ve written consistently throughout my books and articles about the lost art of parents saying “no” to their teens and preteens – if you don’t say it enough right now, start. Your preteens will actually grow up to value many things as a result, none-the-least a respect for elders (who have the power to say no!).
Talk it out
Preteens have the right to know what’s going on. There’s no use hiding behind rose-coloured glasses and telling them everything will be normal, fine and okay. They get it – nothing will be the same again, but in order to move on into a direction that they (and perhaps you) will perceive as a better outcome, you must be honest with them. Tell them what’s going on. Tell them how you’re going to deal with it, and what you expect will happen from here. Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail so give them some feedback about what is going to happen and create a new, positive future plan within the circumstances for moving forward. Maybe while you are arguing with your ex-partner about who gets the kids for the weekend, your preteen may have their own opinion about what should happen – they can be a great asset to help you achieve not just balance, but a positive outcome first and foremost for them.
By Eva Maria
Eva-Maria is an inter-generational relationships expert and author of bestselling book You Shut Up! and sequel Shush, You!. Visit www.eva-maria.co.nz.