Coping Skills

February 11, 2020

By Denise Banks-Wilson

Your child’s co-parenting Rule #12:  Do all you can to teach me coping skills.  They are my self-protection from the stress, anger and anxiety of the divorce. 

Josh was in my 2013 class – some time near the Christmas holiday.  He was quiet until conversation about how difficult it was to remember specific argument.  None.  Bit, I remember getting a stomachache the closer it got to my mom coming home from work.

Josh told the class that when he was young his dad worked from home and his mom had a “regular” job.  “As a kid, I had no idea what kind a job my parents had… I just knew they had some type of job”.  My dad was there hen I went to school in the morning he was there when I got hoe and he wore a sweat suit and my mom dressed for work.

I always thought it was kind a weird to have m dad at home – I don’t know any other kid whose dad this.  I was teased because kids said that my dad really didn’t have a job.

Josh continued… my dad was cool until it was almost time for my mom to come home from work… I remember it because the afterschool programs were ending, and the news was getting ready to come on.  His mood just changed.  Little by little, but by the time my mom got home from work…. I could tell that he was angry.  At first, he’d leave the office where he’d been since I came home from school.  He’d start coming in and out of the tv room… talking under his breadth about how my mom didn’t help around the house… every time he came in the room, he was a little more agitated.  I had no clue why this was happening. then he says, “she things she’s better than us”.

When I started junior high, I’d just move from room to room just to avoid being in the same room he came in to.  I’d go to my room and pretend like I was doing homework… eventually, I just stopped coming home afterschool.  Hung out at my friend’s house… ate dinner at their house and lied that my coach was helping me with my homework… anything to keep from being in the same room with my dad at 3pm.

By the time I was 15, I only had two moods – sullen or angry.  If the teacher challenged me for a “more complete answer”, I’d shut down or blow up.  NO in between.  That’s what I saw from my dad growing up, so that’s what I did.

We’ve been divorced, but I still have difficulty dealing with the normal stress you have in a marriage and divorce when talking about the kids.  The closer I get to our meeting, I start planning an argument… under my breath… if she says this, I’m going to say that.  Makes no sense because the bad shit I’m preparing never happens.  Like, she’s always cordial and doesn’t argue… it’s all me and I know that.  I just wish my parents had taught me something different.

Currently – more than ever – it’s important to:

  1. Mind your mood… it’s important that children learn healthy ways to express frustration or anger.  Being sullen and passive aggressive is no substitute for effective communication
  2. Hold your tongue – they may not understand why your angry.  But they will always remember the way it made them feel
  3. Be the adult.  Remember -you are the big person and your child is the little person.  When things get crazy, they just get confused

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