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I have 2 boys, ages 5 and 10. Have been going through a divorce

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I have 2 boys, ages 5 and 10. Have been going through a divorce past year and a half. I am primary custodial parent, but they spend alternating Saturdays with their dad and two weeknights with him as well (on the nights I work). Dad has a history of bipolar disorder and can go through stages of being very belligerent/depressed. There's never been any physical abuse. They do sense tension between him and me, but we've been mostly working out our divorce through mediation. However, I have no doubt they see me as the more stable, consistent parent. I also was the one that chose the divorce (although they have never explicitly been told that). Both kids are very bright and perceptive and probably pick up on the underlying hostility their dad has toward me.

I feel both boys have strong personalities. I myself have, under the stress of single parenting, begun to lose my patience more, yell more (again, no physical abuse but just more yelling and stress).

My younger son seems to be quite oppositional these days. My older son has always had a strong somewhat defiant, "spirited" streak, which I've been managing for years. He also has been diagnosed and is being treated for ADHD. He can get aggressive (yelling, name-calling) with the younger one as well.

I feel like my house has become a hot-bed of anger and tension these days. My hopes for creating a loving, calm environment seem completely dashed. I myself am a mental health professional and feel like I'm at my wit's end most of the times, especially by the evening, with both of them. I don't have any close family nearby.

I get really upset when the kids are hostile toward me or toward each other. Recently I accompanied my younger child on a school trip. While all the other kids were engaged and participating, my son spent the whole time giving me the evil eye. He was supposedly angry because he wasn't allowed to hold a toy he had brought with him, but I feel like his anger at me seems never-ending and over anything and everything. I get to the point I feel I can do no right with either of my sons.

With the legal fees I'm still paying to continue the divorce proceedings, I don't have enough extra money for each of them to be in therapy, but I am beginning to think that's what they both need. (I have my own therapist already.)

On the plus side, I'm very happy in my career (I work 3 days a week and am at home the rest) and I am in a very happy relationship that I have been taking very slowly.

Is this type of anger at the "stable" parent, or the mom, that normal? How long will this go on? I sometimes fear I have these angry kids that no matter how hard I try, will only look back at their youth with disappointment and resentment.

As I said, I find that the weekends with their dad usually lead to this type of fall-out more acutely afterwards, but the oppositional atmosphere does seem pretty consistent.

What is the best way for me to try to address these issues short of paying #250/hour to have each of them seen privately by psychologists?

Are there specific ways I should be talking to my 5 year old when he acts consistently oppositional/angry with me? (from the moment I pick him up from pre=school)? I feel I struggle more than other moms do. Simply running errands or getting out of the house can be a major power struggle.

Books to recommend? Support groups? Other ideas? I do feel fairly unsupported since the person I'm dating has partial custody of his own kids and in addition, we are really taking it slowly with the kids, so while I have this wonderful person in my life, he can't be "concretely" in my life. I feel like I put forth a pretty together, loving, stable self for my kids but then ultimately lose it when they relentlessly talk back to me, are negative toward me, express constant disappointment, etc. This wasn't the type of household I wanted to create and while I hope the divorce will ultimately lead to a better life, this transition period is just killing me.

Help!??
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 3 years ago.

Hello my friend. You are very correct in that your sons need therapy. SInce you are unable to pay for such outside expensive therapy, see if the children's school has a psychologist or a social worker that can assist the boys for FREE for the time being. You have done ever thing correctly and you continue to be headed in the right direction. I applaud you for being the loving and supportive parent that you seem to be. Your younger son may need a further evaluation for his ADHD and possible medication to control his implosive behavior if it seems to be worsening. For the time being, try to focus of in the positive things that your children are doing. When you discipline, the main goal is to teach right from wrong behavior through rewards, encouragement, talking, listening. respecting, and understanding. Reduce the yelling because you need to save your sanity as the single mom. REALLy praise your boys when they are behaving well. Of course still discipline them when they are disobedient but teach them what is acceptable and what us not. They need to be trained to obey with precise instructions. Set limits and correct misbehavior. Make sure that they feel loved and secure. They need to develop greater self confidence and control their impulsive behavior.

 

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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience: Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'm sorry I think I'm confused about the "answering" under the plan I accepted. After accepting a couple of answers on a veterinary site, I was offered a "special promotion" of ask unlimited questions for free for 30 days. I am happy to accept your answer, since it was helpful, but I have no idea what kind of payment plan I've inadvertently signed up for.

Let me just see if I can figure it out, or if you know, pass that info along to me. I had not seen a rate that I was signing up for per question on this string otherwise.

I will be happy to do what's right. I just don't want to add up fees and be on the 30 day trial at same time....

Please get back to me if you know?
Thanks.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 3 years ago.
I do not handle the payment contracts or payment related questions. I sent a message to customer service and you can do so as well and they will assist you promptly. Thank you and have a great day!!!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I did send out a question to customer service too and will take care of payment promptly once I hear from them. Sorry for the delay. I may want to ask you some follow up questions but you were very helpful. Will be in touch soon. Thanks.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 3 years ago.
No problem...Just type in "For Expert4U" before your question so the question will be directed to me. Hope to hear from you again soon. Have a great day.

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