Dear Parent Coach,
I have a 13 year old daughter and we have 50/50 with her father who is no support for me. She's angry and her father fuels it. How can I deal with this? Any support classes? I need help!
Your daughter is in the challenging stage of life called pre-adolescence. During this time, many changes will be occurring for her physically, socially, and intellectually. For a "tweener", this is a period of confusion, uncertainty, and self doubt, accompanied by a strong desire for a place to belong with her peers.
All of the feelings and changes your daughter will go through are normal. However, they require special understanding and care on the part of parents, and an adjustment in parenting styles.
No longer a little child but not yet an adult, your daughter will not respond to a "do as I say without question" approach any longer, but will need a more collaborative style of working out issues. Pre-adolescents begin pushing for more independence, and a wise parent will allow some safe and age appropriate independent experiences to satisfy this need.
To deal with your daughter's anger, it would be helpful first to find out what's causing it. The root of her anger may be stemming from pre-adolescent worries and changes, or the need for an adjustment in parenting style to acknowledge this transition and to offer her more independence.
Some of your frustration may be coming from the stress of single parenting as well as a lack of control over how your husband is dealing with your daughter. This certainly would complicate a situation that may be rooted in the pre-adolescent angst of your daughter, and may necessitate adjusting parenting techniques to fit her current age related needs.
Practical Parenting Pointers:
1. Encourage your daughter to express her feelings, and try to get to the bottom of her anger. Be patient and caring.
2. Consider shifting your parenting style to take her tween transition into account. Invite your husband to cooperate for the benefit of your daughter.
3. Remember that separation in a family system produces anxiety for children. Be available to listen.
4. Allow your daughter some private, alone time to process her thoughts.
5. Encourage her involvement with good friends and in peer group activities.
6. Find a parenting class or support group in your area to help you through this pre-adolescent developmental stage.
The Parent Coach, Jan Roberts, also teaches weekly parenting classes, coaches parents individually, and writes a weekly newspaper column.