If you and your spouse have differing opinions about parenting styles and have struggled to find some middle ground while you were married, then chances are those differences are going to be more pronounced after divorce.
My current guest, Sandy Weiner has three children. They were aged eighteen, sixteen and thirteen at the time of her divorce. Parenting teenagers is always a challenge. Parenting teenagers through a divorce is more challenging and even more so when your ex undermines your discipline. Here’s Sandy:
Based on a friend telling me that he would get worse, I was prepared for the worst.
My ex-husband wanted full custody of the kids, for example. He was going to fight me in court for that, even though I was the primary caretaker. I pretty much stayed home to take care of the kids and I supported him and his business and ran my own business on the side, but my first priority was always the kids.
When we first got divorced, we were still in that place of peace. He was coming to me on the Sabbath and having meals with me because he was now Sabbath Observant. I was trying to keep up some semblance of family and continuity for the kids and it was getting worse and worse as time went by.
He was coming into my house and contradicting me and my parenting in front of the kids in my own house.
The other thing that really was terrible was my youngest calling him every time I would try to discipline her. I would say, “Go to your room. You just mouthed off at me. You need to take 10 minutes and just go cool off.” She’d call him and say, “I don’t feel safe here. Come and pick me up,” and he’d come and rescue her over and over again.
She’d just keep running away to what she thought was a safe environment. I was trying to set limits and it was driving me crazy. So, I hired a coach for myself. I also subscribed to The Total Transformation® program with James Lehman.
I love the program, but the problem is when you try to do it yourself, it’s not so easy. What I learned was I had to get really strong with my own beliefs. I had to be crystal clear with my values and what my expectations were. I had to stay really loving and kind, in spite of all the opposition That was my biggest challenge: how to be loving to my daughter when I was so angry most of the time. I felt like I was being slapped by both my ex-husband and my daughter on a constant basis.
I grew tremendously through this and I felt like she was my greatest teacher for boundaries, for boundary settings, because that was a big part of my growth. Things that had been missing in my marriage, I was able to learn post-divorce and I learned to be a good example for my kids in that area.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you and your STBX need to adhere to the same parenting style and be assured, you will never agree on everything. Yes, it is extremely valuable when you can both support each other on major issues but in a high-conflict divorce even that level of support may be unlikely.
That doesn’t mean you should just give up and abandon your attempts at discipline and consequences. What it means is that you need to be absolutely clear on your parenting style and to choose your battles carefully. Having this clarity will protect you from being manipulated by your STBX and/or your child and especially your teenager. Remember, your teenager is on a quest for independence and if that means using differences between you and your STBX to their own advantage, they will.
That’s where programs like The Total Transformation® are helpful – you’ll not only develop your approach to discipline, but you’ll also be able to explain it to your child and have the confidence to stand firm.
How does your parenting style differing from your STBX’s? How have you supported them on a major parenting issue? How did your child react?
Sandy Weiner is a dating coach at Last First Date where she blogs about dating and offers coaching services for completing your online dating profile. You can also sign up for her free report: Top 3 Mistakes Midlife Daters Make.
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