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DK Says.......


March 27, 2009
Divorced and different parenting styles...how can you manage?
I recently went to a parenting class for raising teenagers.  I went as a divorced parent knowing full well that the likeliness of my ex wanting to follow anything I get out of this class are slim to none.  In fact, it is doubtful that I will even mention it to him.  Because honestly, getting him to see something my way is almost as difficult as getting teenagers to cooperate.  But while I was there, I was surprised at how many divorced parents wanted to almost throw in the towel saying that these techniques won't work, or don't stand a chance because they will all be undone at the other parent's house.  I quite frankly was appauled at that line of thinking.  In fact, I would really call it more of a cop-out.  That to me is like saying, gee, I can't parent in the way I think is best because my kid spends time over at the neighbors and they do things differently.  I say "Nice Try".  When my kids come home from friends or my ex's house, and they have some new something that they want to pull over on me, I say something like, "Really........that's interesting." Or, "Thanks for sharing...but what do we do at this house?" I just stay firm on my feet, and play the broken record if I have to.  So to me, it doesn't matter if my ex has a different parenting style.  That does not give me any license to just give up or do nothing.  Work with the different parenting style..........in the long run it may even work to your advantage.  Just hold steady and true.  Be consistent.  Eventually your kids may really come to appreciate your level headedness...........well, that may be a looooong eventually.  But nevertheless, it certainly will benefit you to stay true to your own preferred parenting path.  Take a class.  Talk to other parents.  Have a plan........and then go with it, irregardless of what the ex is doing.  You'll probably be happy you did in the long run.

March 19, 2009
Open letter to divorced dads of teenage daughters

Being divorced isn't easy.  Being a child with divorced parents isn't easy either. But being a teenager with divorced parents....well that pretty much takes the cake.  I have been on both sides of this subject.  I was a teenage girl with divorced parents.  I now am a divorced parent of a teenage girl.  Let me say, that no matter how good your co-parenting skills have been with your ex, the trail takes a major turn when girls turn into teens. I know that you love your daughters.  I know that you want to spend time with them.  I know that you want them to be Daddy's little girl just like they always were. And they are........somewhere deep inside.  But at the same time, they are turning into women and they need the space and time to do that. The best gift my dad has ever given me, my entire life, was to recognize when it was time to take a step back. I was still going over to my Dad's as required. But I was miserable.  I was miserable because I didn't want to be there.  I wanted to be with my friends or in my room, or anywhere but with my Dad.  I was also miserable because I felt guilty.  I felt guilty because I knew my Dad was sensing it, and yet I just couldn't bring myself to faking it with him.  I knew he was feeling rejected but just couldn't do anything about it. So there we were both having a miserable time. And then my Dad did something that seems almost unthinkable.  He asked me if there would be some other arrangement that would make this situation better for me. He asked if maybe him coming over and picking me up once a week for dinner or something might work better for me.  I remember thinking...."really?"  I can be relieved of this awful setup where we are both feeling bad. There's no catch?? He was suggesting it, so maybe he wasn't going to feel so bad.  And so I jumped on the chance.  We actually agreed that he picked me up once a week and took me to breakfast. We did it pretty much every week, and we did it for years. I know my Dad must have been really sad about it to let his "little girl" so early, but to this day, we still can talk about everything.  So for the short term, it was probably hard on him.  But for the long term, we developed a real relationship based on genuinely getting to know each other, not one based on existing in the same house. Listen to the signals from your daughters. You will help them greatly by paying a little attention.  Of course, I presume this situation applies to Mothers, daughters, Dads and sons as well.  Just listen.....not only to the words of teenagers, but to the clues. We cannot control them, and the best way to make a relationship for life may be to let them go.

March 11, 2009
Divorced and internet dating? How good can it be?
Dating.  That is a fun word isn't it?  I've met men in various ways.  The traditional (my ex-husband), and least interesting was at work.  The most interesting (ex long-distance for 5 years boyfriend) was on an airplane. I've dated those I met in my neighborhood or local community events.  I've met people while volunteering.  But I have yet to successfully meet anyone on the internet.  Now to be fair, I have become VERY picky in my dating requirements.  I've become very happy as is, and it is going to take an incredible guy to meet my standards.  Because after all, I have a great time with me, and if he isn't what I'm looking for, I'd rather be by myself.  But nevertheless, I've been trying my had at internet dating.  The first few were rather crash and burn if you will.  I'd show up for dinner, only to realize within the first five minutes it was going to be a loooong meal. I've refined my process a bit.  I have almost made it a science.  I have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for.  So I've taken about 5 of my "must-haves" that I can eliminate through an email conversation, and that combined with my quick assessment of those sometimes very inaccurate and misleading pictures, usually gets me to a point that I eliminate about 95% of my internet encounters.  The rest, well, I poke around through a couple of more emails, and then I don't generally agree to dinner anymore.  I will usually just set up coffee. (It isn't always any faster, but I feel better that since there seems to be a pretty good chance the guy isn't going to make it to date two, at least he isn't out a lot of money!)  It has gone better.  Some it has actually taken me the entire coffee meeting before I'm pretty sure it isn't a click or match.  A few have even taken 2-3 dates.  But beyond that..........well, let's just say, Crash and Burn! It seems the ones interested in me, I'm not interested in, and the ones that I'm interested in seem to fall of the face of the earth.  I prefer this to a bar of course, but hmmmm.  I think I'm ready for an old fashioned, love at first site, he sees me accross the crowded room.  Because for some reason, they just don't turn out as good in person as they do up on the little electronic screen.  So, that's it.  I'm officially taking a break from internet dating.  Because so far, how good can it be???  Well, for me, not so good!    

March 10, 2009
I feel like I'm going through a divorce all over again! About teenage kids!

 

I feel like I've just had an ephiphany! I have been fairly lucky so far in my divorced life.  We managed to do it without lawyers.  We have been raising our kids together for 10 years, doing reasonably well. Sure now and then we hit a bump in the road, but somehow we realized we were on the same page, and we could somehow manipulate the kids into behaving the way we want them to.  Now, enter the teenage years.  It seems like we are suddenly on a whole new trail.  Is it that different?  Oh yes.  It was sort of easy to deal with simple issues like where the kids would attend elementary school and who was picking them up and how to spend holidays.  But NOW, it isn't just about us. It isn't just us that get to have a say and decide.  Now the little person isn't so little, and they have thoughts and opinions too.   My philosophy is one of I want to be a guide and a consultant.  I want my kids to learn as much as they can through experience and mistakes.  I want them to learn how to make decisions.  My ex on the other hand is somehow stuck in a time warp, and he wants everything to stay just the way it was...which is he calls the shots and they ask how high to jump.  We have started disagreeing more and more, and interestingly, the issues are harder and harder to just roll of my back.  I feel like I am treading thin ice, much like when I was first divorced.  How do we communicate? How do we decide what is best for the kids? How do we decide what is best for us? Me oh my, it's going to get interesting around here!

March 8, 2009
Divorced. Did I use up my chance at real love?

I've been divorced for about ten years.  Somewhere since that time I had another 5 year long distance love relationship. I have a rather "deep" 13-year-old daughter.  I don't remember how we got onto the subject the other day, but I said something about thinking I was ready to fall in love and try this thing one more time.  She kindly looked at me and said, "No, I don't think you can do that." I was a bit perplexed.  I probed further.  What does my 13 year old know that I don't??  Am I too old?  Ugly? Too busy? Boring? Set in my ways?  What? She stated simply that love isn't that easy to find and that I've already had that gift in life twice (actually it has been three times, but I didn't correct her on that, lest she turn it into a 3 strikes and you are out conversation!) and so I've used up my turns. I felt a little like I must be in a dream or having an out of body experience.  It is nothing that had ever occurred to me.  If you've fallen in love, done the marry and divorce thing, does it mean you don't get another shot?  Uh, eh, sputter, sputter, as I tried to come back into reality, I gently shared my own philosophy on the subject. There are many people who get divorced, who grow from it and go on to have incredible second marriages.  My own mother, her grandma, is an example. To which she explained, yes, but you've already used up your second chance. (Oh, how I'm glad I didn't tell her about the third one!). I gently nudged and said that perhaps I had a little more growing to do.  And that maybe I didn't learn quite as quickly as some, but that yes indeed, I had grown, and I am quite deserving at another shot at love.  And then, I quickly assured her, that YES, I would be taking another shot at it, and that deep down, I know he's on his way and we will get it right this time.  I do have another chance at real love.  And I am looking forward to experiencing it with the benefit of hindsight being 20-20! Whew!


March 6, 2009
Dealing with my own control issues as a divorced parent!

It has taken me quite a while to realize that I can barely control my own individual life, let alone anyone elses.  That means my ex, my kids, my neighbors, the government, anyone!  That lesson didn't come easy, but it really has most often presented itself through being a divorced parent.  You see when I first was divorced, my kids were just one and three.  Suddenly my precious little bundles were out of my line of sight, let alone my control, 3 days a week.  That meant learning to accept that Dad thought that eating M&Ms for breakfast was suitable subsistance for a three year old.  It meant understanding that when it was my day to pick them up from daycare, they might be mismatched, or have messed up hair.  At first, I really was burned about it.  I was ready to call in Social Services or anyone really who would just DO something about it.  But then a wise mom who had gone through this when she divorced snapped me out of it.  She explained that in the big picture those things aren't life threatening, and there really was nothing I could do.  Fast forward ten years.  I now have budding teenagers.  I see that control issues are popping up again.  My ex and I don 't see eye to eye on how these kids should function and behave.  But I finally have come to relax a bit, and realize, if it's not life threatening, that I really should just sit back, because really I can't control it anyway.  In fact, I've learned the more I push any of them (the kids or the ex) the more they push back.  Where if I let the chips fall where they may, they all seem to learn the hard way, and I get to say a lot of silent, "I told you sos".

March 5, 2009
How did I tell the kids about the divorce?

I'm often asked about how to tell the kids.  I don't know that there is any easy way.  My kids were so little, 1 and 3, that they didn't even understand what was happening.  To them I just began talking about the new "house" and what they wanted their rooms to be like and so on.  In a way it was sort of like getting ready for a trip to Disneyland.  There was really nothing to explain.  I do recommend though, that no matter how hard it is, that you try to do it together.  If you can come together as a united front and assure your kids that you love them it will help tremendously in the future.  We still come together for important reasons because we feel like our kids  need to know that though we're not married anymore, we are both their parents and we can work together when absolutely necessary.  It's not easy..........and even though I didn't have to "tell" my kids, I still have to answer their questions to this day about why their Mom and Dad aren't married anymore.

March 4, 2009
When does being divorced get better?

When does being divorced get better?  Does it ever feel better?  I get asked those questions all the time.  The best answer to that question is really, "When you decide for it to". People don't tend to like that answer but it is true.  If you want to continue focusing on the negative and going on and on about how rotten your ex was and is, then it is going to continue feeling bad and not get better.  Take any situation...........let's say you got brand new carpet.  It's beautiful and plush, and so wonderful you want to just roll around in it and invite everyone over to see it. Enter two-year old.  She just had red cranberry juice an hour ago.  She gets sick..........all over your new carpet.  You are upset, you are angry, you are saying why me, why now, why that....Think about when do you start feeling better?  You start feeling a little better when you come off of the ceiling and decide to start cleaning it up.  You feel a little bit better when you quit telling everyone about the disaster.  You start feeling better when you come off the ceiling and realize that it was just a bump in the road of life.  And even though you may still have the stain showing up in your carpet from now until you finally get to get new carpet again, you somehow decide to let it go and move on.  It's the same with getting divorce.  As long as you are willing to drone on and on, complain and wine and cry, it is going to feel bad.  But if you can make up your mind to let it go.  Stop thinking about it, or at least attempt to think about something else whenever it starts popping into your mind........you will slowly begin to feel a little relief.  And if you can feel a little bit of relief, eventually you will feel a little more, and eventually you will walk by that stain of an ex of yours and just mutter, oh, how I can't wait to get new carpet again!  Remember.........it's YOU who decides how long you are going to drag yourself through the mud.



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