Hi, I'm Nicole Myers, Licensed Professional Counselor. If you would like to know more about me or my colleagues, please check out our introductions available in video, audio or text.
The question I'm going to be discussing today is: What if our kids decide they are not going to listen to one of us, refuses to talk with either parent during or after the divorce?
I think about this question in two ways. One being if they refuse to talk to me, as the mom, how would I take that? So, if you are one parent and they are refusing to talk to you, you are probably going to feel somewhat hurt by this and somewhat angry that they would refuse to talk to and/or listen to you during this process. However, I strongly encourage you to respond more with what are the rules and how you will then enforce the rules for your children and what are the rewards and consequences for the behaviors they are choosing. Because, in the end, if you respond with your anger or your hurt, that is giving the children more power in this particular situation and they are gaining that power in inappropriate ways. In other words, they are controlling you through your anger.
So, if you find that giving them rewards and consequences does not appear to change their choices in talking and/or listening to you, I would also suggest getting them a therapist, or a therapist for you and them together in family counseling, because a professional may be able to help you with your communication as well as further encourage appropriate rules.
Now, the other way I think about this question is: What if they refuse to talk to or listen to your ex-partner? That, of course, brings up a whole different set of feelings at times because you no longer like that person. So, having your children also not like them might feel kind of good in a way. However, there is some danger here because this is their other parent. If they don't respect that parent, what are they learning in the world and how will they behave? So, while you may not mind as much if they don't listen or talk to that parent, it is also important to continue to follow through on appropriate consequences and rewards for your children's positive development if not for the sake of the other parent. If you two are still able to do some co-parenting, parenting together, through the divorce process, your children will benefit more if you two are on the same page because they are already going through so many separation issues such as different households and division of their property such as their clothes and toys.
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