Do you have a hard time saying no to your kids? When I first got divorced no was not part of my vocabulary. I felt so guilty for depriving Hailey of an intact home that I just couldn’t bring myself to deprive her of anything she wanted.
Needless to say, this quickly got out of hand. Our kids know who is in control and if you are always giving into them they know they have the upper hand and quickly become manipulative. So many times I’ve heard children stomping off to their rooms after mom told them no, saying things like- I wish I was dead- everyone hates me- you treat me like you wish I was never born- if I lived with Dad he would let me. Words to rip a parents heart out.
Why do kids say these things? Because they have learned that they work. If you are weighing yourself down with guilt your kids pick up on it and use your guilt against you. Part of the joy of raising bright kids is that they don’t miss a thing, that is also part of the challenge.
If you find yourself divorced with children the very first thing you have to do is determine who is in charge. You have to become the alpha dog, so to speak. Your children need to know, from the beginning of your adventure in single parenting, that you are still their parent.
Kids need boundaries, and at no time is that more evident than when their parents are going through a divorce. If your kids live with you, you may fear that if you say no to them they will go live with their other parent. I say let them, there is a reason they live with you.
When Hailey was thirteen she became rude and obnoxious. She was mean and manipulative, constantly threatening to go live with her father. When I finally couldn’t stand it anymore I called her father and told him to come and get her. To her surprise, he did, and he was not any happier about her behavior than I was and within a week she wanted to come home. I didn’t let her, it was summer and I made her stay with him while I became the weekend parent.
When she came home she was more appreciative of me and more willing to live by the boundaries I set. We were both happier because I didn’t allow her to rule the house, instead, I reminded her, I’m your mother and sometimes it’s just because I say so!