January 24, 2011 in Features

Dad must stay course with ex’s new friend

Armin Brott
 

Dear Mr. Dad: I was divorced in 2001, when my daughter was 1. She’s now 11. Here’s my dilemma. The person who was a big part of the divorce is still with my ex. But up until recently, my daughter knew him only as a cousin.

After all I’ve been through, I resent him when my daughter talks with him or spends time with him. Do I just keep swallowing my pride and let it go, or is this something I can talk about with her in a subtle way.

She understands that her mother and I were divorced but not that this guy was involved.

A: I totally get that you’re still angry with the guy your ex is involved with, and you have every right to resent his proximity to and relationship with your daughter. But be very, very careful. As painful as it is, you’re going to need to swallow your pride for a while longer – at least until your daughter comes right out and asks why you and her mom got divorced. When that day comes, you can – and should – tell her the truth. But do it in as calm a way as you can. Do not come across as attacking anyone. Just lay out the facts– and make sure they’re facts no one can argue with. The last thing you want is to get your daughter involved in a he-said-she-said kind of thing. She’ll end up in the middle, and that’s a place she should never be.

Like it or not, your ex’s friend is a part of your daughter’s life. Don’t do anything hostile or vindictive. There is absolutely no upside to that. The only thing that will come of it is that your ex and, most likely, your daughter, will turn on you, and you’ll become the bad guy.

Dear Mr. Dad: My 6-year-old son is behaving aggressively. Just yesterday, he was suspended from school for two days because he poked another child in the eye with a pencil.

Fortunately, the other kid wasn’t seriously injured. And not long before that, he poked his sister (who’s 10) with a pair of scissors. I’ve tried time-outs, talking to him, removing toys from his room, not letting him have play dates or watch TV, and I’m not sure what to do next. Can you recommend any books on discipline?

A: It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. And yes, there are a lot of great discipline books out there. But you’re way, way beyond the book stage. If your son were just pushing kids or snatching toys away from them, some new discipline strategies might help.

But he’s doing things that could cause serious damage to others. You need to get your son evaluated right away by a good child psychologist. The school nurse or the principal will probably have a list.

If they don’t, ask your pediatrician for some recommendations. Clearly, there’s something going on here that’s well beyond anything you can deal with on your own. Make an appointment today — before your son does something truly horrific.

Find resources for fathers at www.mrdad.com


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