Teach the children

Joey Garcia

My ex-wife permitted our 12-year-old daughter to open Instagram and Twitter accounts against my explicit instructions. I don’t see any need for a “tween” to be on social media. I’m concerned because of the proliferation of predators on the internet. My ex-wife is like Pavlov’s dog—she has every notification set on her phone and allows herself to be interrupted every few minutes. My daughter says my ex can’t have a conversation without constantly checking her phone. Advice, please.

Teach your daughter how to safely participate in the online world. Telling a tween that social media is off-limits makes going online secretly more enticing—don’t you remember being young? Kids want to be where their friends are and want to do what their friends do. During adolescence, kids start to peel away from adults. The process may be painful for parents, but it’s essential to an adolescent’s development.

Your job is to become someone your daughter wants to stick with, while remaining an adult, not trying to be her best friend. Begin here: Ditch your authoritarian stance. Fear and control are not attractive. Authoritative parenting is your goal: set reasonable demands; establish consistent and fair discipline; listen to your child’s opinions; encourage her independence; explain the reasons behind your expectations and rules. Educate your daughter so that, in your absence, she makes beneficial choices out of self-confidence, not fear of you. You want her to respect you so that she can talk with you about difficulties, not fear you so that she avoids telling you any harsh truths about her life.

One last thing, don’t punish your daughter for your ex-wife’s short attention span and lack of self-discipline. Your daughter is an individual. Treat her accordingly. Don’t assume that because your ex is obsessed with social media that your daughter will be, too.

My boyfriend of four years broke up with me. He said that he was no longer in love. I was so shocked that I could barely get out of bed for a month. I’m on my feet again and realize the best thing about the relationship was his two daughters. They contacted me recently to say they missed me and think their dad is crazy for breaking up with me. (Apparently he’s already seeing someone new.) I miss them, too. Do you think I should contact him about continuing a relationship with his two girls, ages 9 and 12?

No. A breakup that spun you so dizzy with despair that you could barely rise from bed isn’t out of your bloodstream—yet. A man you nearly married but who is already seeing someone new isn’t out of your heart—yet. Be patient. In six months to two years, the residue of this relationship will be cleansed from your system. If you reach out to your ex too soon, you might try to win him back or demand reasons why he fell out of love. These acts might even seem logical to you, but they’re not. Seeking answers from your ex beyond what has been offered (he said he’s no longer in love) will renew your suffering. So trust that your relationship with the girls is strong enough to withstand a brief intermission. In the interim, see a relationship coach to discover what fissures, if any, you denied in order to believe all was well while dating this man.

Meditation of the week
“In order to enter the path of forgiveness, we have to lose our feelings of both superiority and inferiority. Each of us has hurt another, each of us has been hurt,” wrote Jean Vanier. Where in your body do you trap your shame?

Joey facilitates a Medicine Wheel on January 28 and 29. Learn more and register at www.thebrickhouseartgallery.com.

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