Keeping Your Kid Sane Through the “Dad Dilemma”

That’s what we call it. The Dad Dilemma. It’s better than the other nasty things I want to say 🙂

When you’re a single parent you can only be in charge of you. It makes it sticky when the other parent acts like a schmuk. And you get to clean up the mess. Your child may be angry with….we’ll call him “db”. That anger gets taken out on you. On the siblings. At school. They become little gremlins, all freak-outish in their attitudes. Or maybe they just get sad. Hole up in their rooms and detach from everyone. Sleep a lot and walk around all quiet.

At the beginning of all this, it’s hard to not walk right up and smack the crap outta “db”. But trust me when I say it only makes things worse. I have found some other ways to at least comfort their little souls. It’s a little more work, being mom and dad, but it’s worth it. Here’s what I suggest if you are ever in a similar situation:

  • Take Time
    When you see them struggling (for us it’s always on the heels of a visit) go for a walk. Take a drive and get ice cream. Ask if it’s all good. Even if they don’t want to talk about it, they know that you’re there and willing to listen.
  • Do Mom/Dad Stuff
    I know part of the issue is that “db” doesn’t do anything with Bub. So I make it a point to do “dad” stuff; shoot hoops, toss the football, and go fishing. I also employ some of my buddies to take ’em to do “guy stuff”. Grandpa’s are great for this, too. Unfortunately, his is quite far away.
  • Give ‘Em Reason
    Sometimes no matter what you do, they’re going to melt down. The situation sucks and they just cant take it. But because of the magnitude of these emotions, it can get kind of ugly. And as a parent, eventually we all must face the fact that bribery and threats are very powerful tools. Not as in “If you do “x”, I’ll give you “y”.” but reminding them that they have privileges that can be taken away. Follow it up with a reminder to think and it can help a situation immensely. And I guess it’s not bribing. More like threatening…
  • Get The Community Involved
    We’re fortunate enough to have a principal that dearly loves Bubba J. She calls about any concerns, talks to him, and has suggested many different ideas for helping him through. Seek out the different activities there are through the rec, school district, and music stores. Giving them something of their very own is a great way to “get away” from the thoughts for a while.
  • Counseling
    Now, I have had horrible luck with counselors. But if you can find someone who will not try to find some “hidden” reason for the issues and look clearly at the situation, it’s great. They can help you help them, and can be employed to be the “bad guy”, contacting “db” about what they’re not doing. 🙂 It also becomes a safe haven for the kid. Unless there is something wrong, the counselors don’t generally talk to you about what you kid talks to them about. And if your son/daughter doesn’t want you to be angry about something, they’re libel to bottle it up.

Most of the time one or a combination of these things will work. Sometimes, nothing will. But in the end, if you show ’em love, hold onto the ball and not bash the “db”, they will at least see you for the caring parent that you are. 



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