Please help my parents stop fighting. I’m really scared. There’s too much noise. I pray for them to stop yelling and arguing but it doesn’t help. Last week I saw my dad hit my mom. She was crying and I didn’t know what to do. I’m really scared and I don’t like it.
Are you living in fear and trying to hide it from your kids?
(News flash: your children know all about it.) They’re watching, listening and they feel the tension. Way too often, kids see the slaps, hear the crying, and are present to the anger. If you’re a parent, how can you rein it in over the holidays? Is it possible for you to avoid taking the bait, and instead, walk away from the fight? What would it take to commit to taking the high road?
In the long run, walking away helps you. It won’t be easy to walk away. You may need outside help or intervention. It might feel really frightening. Walking away from something you’re used to is tough. But for you and your children, it’ll be worth it.
How do parents stop fighting? They walk away from it over and over again.
I want my friends to play with me. But I feel as if the kids act like I’m weird and everyone’s looking at me. Why can’t they just play? I used to be able to have fun. Now I’m dragged around to appointments and have to talk to grown-ups all the time. It’s not fun and it’s not fair.
Your children want time away from school deadlines and away from the pressures of your fighting or divorce.
They also need adult help, maybe supervision, and certainly time with someone other than you who has the patience to listen. What they don’t understand is the pace with which you’re barking at them. Or what they’re doing wrong to warrant your frustration. They want time to play with their friends and they don’t understand why you’re always rushing them from place to place. Children just want to hang out and have fun again. They miss their friends and they want their old routines.
What children of all ages need is the reassurance that you are safe and thus, they are safe.
While you’re fighting whether pre or post-divorce, you know everything’s up in the air. The old routines are beginning to go away. It’s unfortunate, but of course, you don’t mean to take out your frustration on them. So, how can you slow down this winter? Are there pockets of time to have fun? Your kids need you to do new things with them so can you rally yourself and enjoy being together? As you create new traditions, tell yourself that the divorce and the fighting can wait and go enjoy some fun. You and your children need a break.
Please make my parents be parents. They’re making me decide what to do, like all of a sudden I’m the grown up. I hate it when they keep telling me things about each other. I don’t really care. Seriously. I have homework to do and friends to see. My mom keeps asking me to do stupid chores around the house and I don’t want to be around her. I also don’t want to see my dad in a new place or eat in restaurants with him and his new girlfriend.
Putting your children in the middle of decision making is really stressful for them.
You probably don’t mean to do so. But it’s really hard not to bring things up and vent or complain. Unfortunately, there’s no win in asking them to decide who to be with or whom to see and what to do. This is your role. Your child can’t be physically pulled in half – imagine that the next time you ask them to decide.
Instead, reach out to their other parent and make a pact to keep them out of the fight. In the long run, you will both have a relationship with your children. Try to remember that the parent who pulls them apart the most will ultimately lose. Also, today’s kids are really smart. When my parents divorced, we were the only family around. Your kids know the game you’re playing. They’re on to you!)
My sister and I want to go have some fun and all I hear is ‘we can’t afford to.’ What happened? Does this mean I can’t do my team sports next summer? Are we poor? Where will we be living? Why is grandpa putting food in the refrigerator and mom is always working now? This doesn’t feel right. Do I have to go get a job?
Children know when economic changes happen in their home.
All children see and feel the disparities between households and lifestyle. It is real to them and for those on the outside looking in, it’s not our place to pass judgment. Contrary to common belief, whether a family is in the 1% or the 99%, children can see, feel and experience the stress of trying to make ends meet. Furthermore, in their adolescence, they know you’re trying to keep up the lifestyle they once knew. Even when they’re testing you to see how far they can push.
Putting the children first means providing for their lifestyle and making their other home as comfortable as possible… for them!
When the fight extends to cutting the less monied spouse’s lifestyle just because it can be done, it’s harming your children. (News flash: it’s also mean-spirited and controlling.) A household that can’t maintain a familiar lifestyle, is stressful for everyone. Your children feel it and know it. They want their parents to stop fighting. Reassure them you’ve got this. help them understand the new choices to be made and avoid playing dirty – your children are watching.
This Holiday season, may you find peace and comfort in traditions and new practices. Hopefully, you will have some time to be with your children and some space to step away from the pressure. Instead of fighting, try spending time with neighbors and family. Each time you walk away from the fight, you get a much-needed break from the stress of separation.