Each month DK Simoneau addresses readers questions about shared custody, parenting, and split family living situations.  To submit a question, please use the form below.

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March 22, 2009
How do I get teens to open up about divorce, breakups and other issues?
My wife and i are divorcing, i have been staying in the sofa for the last 8 months and she should be moving out in about a month. 3 years ago we went trough the same thing and i moved out to my sisters with 55/45 joint custody. We have 3 girls 13,10,8, and a 17 year old son. My concern is how can i know how they are doing trough all this when its seems like they just don't want to open up? I feel as if i am trying to be to much in their business, but i just  want is to be there for them.It breaks my heart to just think that they may be hurting so much and not saying anything. Last night my son and hes girlfriend of 7  months broke up and he did not take it well, he had us worried all night and he doesn't want to talk about it. I did not push the issue, and i will talk to him as soon as i find the right opportunity with out having to making him feel pressured, what do you suggest....  concerned dad of teens
Hi concerned dad........raising teenagers under any circumstances can be tough.  So much is going on in their heads and we want them to not have to learn things the hard way like we had to. When you are dealing with divorce and teens it can be even more so. But unfortunately, there is not much you can do.  There are some times that kids are better at opening up than others.  One is in the car.  So volunteer to drive them to practice or whatever...they seem to think that it's safe to talk there because they know there is an ending.  Another might be late at night when they come stumbling to the kitchen for a snack.  If you are there sipping a way at tea or something, you might be surprised. With boys, it might be while engaging in some sport activity.  Maybe go shoot some hoops or play a round of golf, go to the batting cages etc.  My best suggestion is don't pry, don't nag, don't question......but just be available for the moment they do open up.  Try to be a consultant when asked, not a control freak!  If you know they like to go to a special restaurant, offer to take them and pay for lunch, breakfast or whatever, but take them one at a time. Be patient..........think about how you feel when someone tries to get you to share, and treat them with the respect and patience you would want, and lots can happen. If you try to force it, you will likely be met with a brick wall.  And last but not least.............Do NOT say, I told you so!  Hope that helps!  dk


March 5, 2009
How do I help my 3-year old cope and sleep in her own bed after divorce?

Me and my husband are getting a divorce and we have two children. One is 3 and the other is 1. The 3year old is not wanting to sleep in her own bed now. She also keeps saying she is scared. Its all day long and over nothing. How do i help her to see there is nothing to be scared of? She is not saying she is scared because daddy is not here it is just that im scared. Is that her just trying to tell me in her own way that she is upset? what can i do to help her sleep all night in her own bed and to not be scared of everything? Plz help im very worried about my baby.    Thank you   TM

 

Hi...your message really pulls at my heart strings, as my kids were just 1 and 3 when my ex husband and I got divorced.  They are now 11 and 13, and very well adjusted kids. I do believe that she is probably feeling some separation anxiety, wondering if she leaves your sight if you might move out too!  It is very normal.  What I always did, and it seemed to be effective, was I would allow them two choices.  One choice usually being their own bed, and the second was a place on the floor in my room with their blankets.  I would show them the place and let them choose........at first I would start right next to my bed on the floor.  Then after a couple fof  nights I moved it down to the bottom.  Then I moved it closer to the door.  Now I never had to move it out into the hallway outside of my door, because they always started choosing their own bed first.  I always let it be their choice, not mine, but I gave two choices I could live with.  Other than that, you will just have to really be paying extra attention to her during waking hours.  It will get better.....it just takes some time.  And the book I wrote, We're Having A Tuesday, really helps them cope with it.  I would highly recommend you at least request it from your local library.  Best wishes............dk




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