When I was little my father used to see my brother and I every once in a while on the weekends, whenever he didn’t have a date I guess. My mom, although hesitant to let us go with him for very long due to his lifestyle, did her best to make it so we could still have a relationship with him. She made the smart decision to let us hear all of his garbage and trusted that as we grew older we would sift through it all and be able to identify what was true and what was not. When I say garbage I mean his stories about why he didn’t pay child support. For some reason he felt the need to explain to two little boys why he could not or would not pay support to our mom.
At the time, I had no idea that he was just using his kids to ease his own mind and make himself feel justified about what he was not doing for us. He would say things like ” You boys know the reason I cant give your mom any money is because you would never see any of it. Your mom would be buying fur coats and expensive jewelry.” We heard things like this all throughout our childhood when he was not in jail. It was always something my mom did that prevented him from paying her support, according to him. Looking back I guess I see it would have been hard for him to pay support anyhow, since he did not want to work!
If there ever was a person who took full advantage of his children’s age and vulnerability it was my dad. He really slept well after seemingly convincing us that he was the victim in all this and my mom ( who worked 3 jobs to keep a roof over our head) was somehow taking advantage of him. It really is quite pathetic now that I think on it again. He actually had us believing it for a short period between ages 10-12 or so. I remember barging into my mom’s room after a visit with my dad and accusing her of spending all of my dad’s money. She just looked at us and didnt really respond, although she had every right to get us back into reality and tell us what a liar my father was. She opted for the high road, and in the end my brother and I caught on to what really as going on and we addressed the lies with my father later in life. Of course, not having changed a bit, he just proceeded to move away from my brother and I to avoid these type of inquiries.
Talking bad about my mom may have got us off track for a few short years but in the big picture, we saw right through the attempt to discredit our mother and totally lost respect for him. My brother and I were not a rare case, either. This type of immature behavior goes on in homes today all over the world. Parents get mad at there spouses, ex-spouses and actually start telling their little children about how bad their other parent is. How sad it is that they are putting the child in such an uncomfortable position, and an unfair position. Whats more, is the parent who runs their mouth is usually doing it out of resentment for the spouse and the child has no place in it. The selfish idea that I can get back at my spouse by using my child as a pawn and an instrument to hurt them is horrendous, but it happens everyday. Its happened to me and may have happened to you.
The message for today is simple but critical. Please parents, keep the immature and childish vitriol away from the innocent children. If for no other reason than the fact that you will always come out the loser in the end, always. Your children may buy into your games now, for a short while, but believe me they will lose all respect for you when they figure out what you did and how you used them and their vulnerability to try and hurt their other parent. It isn’t worth it. After all what good does it do anyone to start spreading dirty laundry? Has anything good ever come out of it, ever? Keep the negative talk about your ex, or your current spouse to yourself, and leave your children out of it, better yet leave everyone else out of it, Its between you and them and the only motive for spreading it all out is a selfish one because nothing good ever comes from gossip. Until we have it all together in our own lives , how about we leave our nose out of others’ business all together. Agreed?
The skill for the skill bank today to teach Is Problem Solving –
Since we talked about making good decisions with our children today, lets teach them how to arrive at good solutions as they make decisions. Here is a great formula to use and easy to teach and remember. Its called the S.O.D.A.S method.
Situation- Identify problem
Options- list a few options
Disadvantages- list a few disadvantages for each of your options
Advantages- list a few advantages for each of your options
Solution- Review the above and come up with your best solution.
So, when your child has trouble figuring out whether to skip homework and play video games, they can always do a quick SODAS on a piece of paper to determine if the consequences would be worth the behavior. I use SODAS many times on the run in my head for daily choices I need to make, its very helpful!
Happy parenting and as always, your money back if not satisfied- so give it a shot!