Parenting Spike: The seriously difficult child- Divorce
by Andrew Gibson, Ph.D.
The most common way Spike, a ten year old out-of-control boy, gets to be Spike is through divorce. But it isn’t the only way and a divorce does not guarantee you will get a Spike. The culprit isn’t really the divorce anyway. It is all the fighting both before, during and after the divorce. Spike picks up two things from all the fighting: one, his fighting parents scare him and he ends up believing the split is all his fault. He believes that if he were a better boy this wouldn’t have happened. This is a hard thing for adults to grasp but it is true. Spike can’t handle the blame he feels and so he lashes out. He is a kid, after all. His understanding as an adult won’t come for decades. By then the damage could be immense. Two, Spike will manipulate the difference between his parents. They are not on the same child rearing page. Dad insists his way is best. Mom insists hers is best. Spike hears it all, especially the arguing parts. He calculates his advantage and happily shows his resentment. He will , then, drive an even bigger wedge between them. Let’s say they aren’t divorced yet; Spike will just about guarantee that divorce happens. It will take a lot to prevent it. Spike will keep pounding and pounding on that wedge. Spike still feels responsible for all the upset but he is also angry. Rather than turn anger entirely on himself, he turns it on his parents, too. Spike’s parents need to pay for his anger. Spike is too young to understand how he feels or the dynamics of fighting parents. He just know his life is awful, that somehow the unhappiness is a reflection on him and that somebody must pay. That somebody is almost always parents. They pay big time. They will pay through a life that is even harder and more disruptive than just the life approaching divorce alone. Of course the divorce can be avoided, unless everyone has already driven over a cliff. It can happen if parents can bring themselves to agree on how to deal with this increasingly hostile child of theirs. One of these parents is going to get Spike in custody; probably Mom. Think she is ready for it? However worthless Mom thinks Dad is, she is likely to find that unless he is an utter jerk, that life without him is actually harder. For more information or to ask a question, go to DrAGibson.com #parenting
About The Author
Dr. Andrew Gibson was born in Detroit at the close of WWII. He grew up in the midst of farming country in central Michigan. Both parents were teachers. He keeps a picture of his childhood companion, Wags, to this day (you had to see the tail to appreciate the name). After discharge from the Navy after the Viet Name war, he graduated with a BA and MA from San Diego State University and earned his Ph. D from the University of Connecticut. He has taught at Portland State University, n Portland Oregon, at the University of Maine, Presque Isle and at SUNY New Paltz. He resides in Eastern Connecticut, with his wife of 41 years, where he conducts a private practice in parenting seriously difficult children. His book “Got An Angry Kid? Parenting Spike-A Seriously Difficult Child’ is the first of a series examining seriously difficult children at various age and emotional disturbance levels. He invites you to find him on the web at DrAGibson.com.