Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I’ve been reading a lot about bullies lately and I have a question for you- is it possible for a child to bully a parent?
Here’s my situation- I’m divorced, with two children. I met a great guy three weeks ago and I’d like to be able to spend some time with him.
He has a 4 year old daughter, the same age as mine. It seems to me that a good way for us to get together, without making my kids feel excluded, is to arrange play dates with the kids while at the same time I see the dad as friends. Unfortunately, my 11 year old son (who happens to have Asperger’s) doesn’t see it this way. He claims that I am forcing him to be a babysitter against his will. He also raised the roof because he saw me kissing my new friend.
I’m an adult woman, am I not allowed to have a friends? And I thought that it was considerate of me to include my kids rather than schlepping them to a babysitter so that I could go out on my own. But my son is completely antagonistic and refuses to try to get along. I feel as if I am being bullied and I don’t like it.
Yes children can bully parents, but in this case, it sounds to me as if you may instead be bullying your son, albeit with good intent.
You are trying to sell a reality to him that is not actually true. This new guy in your life is not just your friend, and your son knows it. Until this man and you get to know each other better and a commitment has been made, he and your kids should not be mixed. This is true for any divorced parent, but if you have a child with Asperger’s, change and ambiguity can be especially painful.
Teaching your kids that what you say is more important than what you do is the first step in screwing them up. In the book 1984, they called it double speak; it’s a form of manipulation and control.
Double speak is common in those who come from an abusive or chaotic childhood.
It is both ironic and fortunate that your son is 100% literal. He will call your bluff at every turn and this may force you to be true and honest in your speech. That alone will probably cut 60% of the bullshit and chaos from your life.
Saying what you mean and being consistent will help ALL your relationships.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: Kids have fantastic crap detectors. Adults find it annoying, but then, most adults are full of crap.
We all have a tendency to put on horse blinders when a new romance beckons. It’s usually disastrous when a single person does this, but even more so when a divorced parent does, because not only do you suffer the consequences of careless behavior, your kids do too.
I know that you want a little bit of happiness and hope in your life, but be smart about it. Give the relationship a little more time to develop before you drag the kids in. Get a baby sitter and go out on a date with this new man- both you and the kids will have a much better time.
PS- and for god’s sake, don’t tell your kids that this guy is just your friend and then start making out with him. Children learn by imitation, and even if your son is skeptical, your daughter could be picking up some unfortunate ideas. Do you want to have to explain to the kindergarten teacher why your 4 year old is trying to make out with the boys at play school?