Posted in Divorce & Separation, Single Parents, Teenagers

Is there a long term reward for being the hated, mean, involved, responsible parent?

I can’t seem to get on the same page as my “co-parent”. I am against my 12 year old daughter (my son 15 the gamer could care less about them) having social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat while her mother could care less. I know some have age restrictions but they are non responsive when I contact them via email saying it’s my daughter who’s underage and I want to know how to close the account. This along with finding activities for my 3 kids to do with our time together which the older 2 want no part of because “they don’t want to do anything, just stay home, it’s never fun”. Wether they admit it or not more than half the time they are not bored. And I think it’s important to expose them to new things, hoping they’ll discover an interest. With being the only parent who enforces any rules such as taking away privileges for bad grades, having diet restrictions (ex. no soda in mornings or near bedtime), and reaching out to teachers to see how they’re doing in school, I can definitely sense their anger and disappointment. The divorce was hard on them, they don’t have structure in their life with no effort being made from their other home, yet she has majority custody. Has anyone gone through this and ended up with a good relationship with their kids after all is said and done?

  • Taiyisha
    Jul 03, 2018

    Being an enforcer can also be just as bad as being irresponsible with your kids. Maybe the best thing to do would be to find a middle ground. Instead of trying to ban social media completely, try using some version of parental control to keep them from using certain features and then try talking to them about what may be cool to them. They may already have an interest and with the changing climate of jobs and added careers due to social media, you could be missing an opportunity for one of them to pick up an interest in something like Public Relations or even Entertainment Business or any kind of computer science. Gamers make tons of money later in life creating those games or even better, becoming animators. Nurture the interest they may already he showing you. Forcing them to do every and anything will only revert them from liking it (especially teens). When they get bad grades, try discussing what the problem may be in that class before shutting everything down and taking away privileges. There is a way to keep structure without having to be the ENFORCER. You don't have to be their friend, but they need to be able to trust that you'd try to understand and love them and after a divorce that can be hard for kids to feel from their parents no matter how much we think what we'll do shows that. Try and find a balance. They won't be this age forever.

  • Melissa
    Jul 03, 2018

    I feel you, Christopher! We have gone the rounds with my 13 year-old daughter and social media for more than a year. In our case, no matter what parental restrictions we set or how many talks we have about real-life consequences, she continuously finds a way to get around the system, open new accounts, and behave inappropriately online. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for you—there are so many complications in your situation. Is your 12 yo appropriate and safe on her social media accounts? If so, this might have to be a situation where you have to pick your battles. Maybe you don’t work to shut down her accounts, but maybe she doesn’t have access to them in your home until she’s the minimum required age, and you monitor her activity online to make sure she’s being safe while she’s with her mom. Remind the kids that you and her mother are different people with different rules in your different houses. It’s hard for all of you to adjust to that (and be honest with them that it’s hard for you too), but you’ve chosen your rules because you truly believe they will keep your kids healthy and safe, and that they will be better prepared for adulthood if they learn to follow them now. As much as you can, keep mom and her choices out of it. Try to show them it’s not about you not trusting THEM—it’s about you working together so they can be safe and successful in this world. Try to flip the script a bit! Instead of punishing them for bad grades or attendance, reward them for good grades and attendance! Before they come over, prepare by removing things that cause needless arguments and power struggles. Don’t keep soda in the house, set your internet to turn on and off at a certain time, etc. It’s so hard because you want to give them every opportunity you don’t want them to miss out on. While they’re away, you clearly take a lot of time to think about how to do that for them. But it’s also really important to meet them where they are. Maybe they really do need some down-time by the time they come see you. Maybe they really just want to spend “normal” time at home with you. Meet them halfway, and set the expectation that one family outing comes first, then you all get to come home and relax together. The more they see you as human, as someone who understands them and wants to see them learn and grow and be happy, the more time they’ll want to spend with you, and the more they’ll understand you and want to see you learn and grow and be happy too. 😊

  • Wendie
    Jul 04, 2018

    It sounds like you and your ex need to get together and talk about your parenting strategies. I know that's not always possible but if you can both come up with a plan and compromise on some of this it would make things much easier. I don't let my kids have sugary drinks early in the day or late at night and we have a no social media rule in our home. Also, electronic are plugged into the charging station in my room at night. I have a really good relationship with my kids and I think it's because my husband and I are on the same page and my kids know what is expected. I really hope you can work it out. It sounds like your trying your best to guide your kids in the right direction. Without you their mother being an active role in your kids discipline you're going to continue to have it rough.