Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but how do your kids handle the split when it comes to the holiday season? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman gives his parental advice on how to adjust to the separation during holiday planning. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
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Doug: Well, hello, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us and it is really, really great to be with you guys. If this happens to be your first time with us, just wanted to let you know this is a free education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. And, I have a confession … Not a confession, I love it, how much these podcasts are helping people and if you are blessed by these podcasts, you can do us this incredible joy of just passing it onto others and bless them as well. So, Dr. Leman, you have a Facebook page, right?
Dr. Leman: I do. Dr. Kevin Leman, L-e-m-a-n, and that’s interactive, birthorderguy.com, birthorderguy.com. It’s a fun place to be. You’ll pickup our podcasts there obviously, but you’ll get some insight into what the Leman life is like. I tend to be more than open with people about what’s happening in my life, with my family, my kids. It’s a place where you can ask questions, it’s a place where you can find some answers things, it’s interactive and fun.
Doug: Yeah, and it’s D-r K-e-v-i-n L-e-m-a-n, no H for Facebook, right?
Dr. Leman: Right.
Doug: And it’s you actually that are the ones that are replying to people too there, which I think is absolutely amazing and incredible that you actually do, do it yourself. But I bring up Facebook in that if you’re there, super way to just pass along the podcast that are posted there and you can just share it with your friends, the ones that you like.
Dr. Leman: Yeah.
Dr. Leman: Facebook told me I had too many friends.
Dr. Leman: I’ve got 74,000 friends.
Doug: Well, we’re one of your friends. That we got in before Facebook said I couldn’t be your friend.
Dr. Leman: But I still got friend requests and I accept them, so I don’t know. They sent me this letter once that said I had too many friends, but I tend to ignore people like that.
Doug: That’s a good problem to have, too many friends.
Andrea: That’s fun.
Doug: That’s fun. Well, let’s jump into today’s topic. Today’s topic is one that we get, actually this question comes to us a lot. Just as a side note, if you go to birthorderguy.com/podcastquestions, you can leave an audio question or any other way that you want to. But this is a common one that we get, “How do I deal with my ex’s, and with the holidays upon us, Dr. Leman, how do I deal with my ex at holiday season?”
Dr. Leman: You’re an ex for a reason. What was the reason, number one? Is this a relationship that has been severed because of abuse. That would put this question in a whole different area. I’m convinced that there are married people who are now divorced, who have to make the decision that I am not going to be in the presence of my ex, ever; and that can be a very good decision. There’s parents that have to make that decision because of abuse or neglect, where they don’t allow their children to be with that ex.
And then, there’s the great majority who they just didn’t hit it off in marriage, they thought divorce was the answer, and it rarely is by the way. The holidays come and kids feel torn ’cause kids are the great equalizer. They want things even-Steven. If they live with mom, they feel like they need to spend extra time with dad. If they live with dad, they feel like they have to spend extra time with mom. So, it is a dilemma and my advice would be, when your kids get of age … Now what is of age? In this context, it might be age 10, that’s an arbitrary number. You want to make it eight, I’m not gonna get mad. You want to move it to 12, won’t get mad there either, but it’s somewhere are around there. Our kids are old enough to get it, to understand what’s happened, and they do understand in a very personal way what divorce is all about. They don’t get to see mom, they don’t get to see dad.
But there comes a time where you talk to your kids and you solicit their input on, “Hey guys, Christmas is just three weeks and four days away and we need to figure out how we’re gonna handle the holidays.” Now maybe you’re already in that rut or that practice where it’s every other Thanksgiving, every other Christmas. That being the case, if that’s already set and concrete, that’s sort of a given. But then I think the healthy thing to say is, “Okay, it’s Dad’s time for you guys at Christmas, how would you like to spend that time the best?” And let that be their call. Now here’s the grow up part of that, whatever they call, they get to be the deliverer of the news to dad, not you, Mom, or not you, Dad. The kids deliver that message and it keeps the ball in their court and it sort of keeps them honest.
In other words, it’s great to say to your mom, “I don’t want to go over there. He’s got the woman with him. I don’t like her.” Well, that’s one thing to bellyache to mom, it’s another thing to say, “Dad, I just want to come over and be with you on Christmas Eve, and then I’ll see you sometime during the week ’cause I’m on vacation.” Do you see what I’m saying? See, let the kids participate in this big time.
Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Leman: The older they get, the more say they have. And does a kid have a right to say, “I don’t want to see my parent at Thanksgiving time or Christmas time?” Yes, they do have that right.
Andrea: How is that for the kid to have to go tell their mom or their dad, “Well, I’ve decided for Christmas, I’m gonna be with my mom, not with you.” Doesn’t that put the kid in a really bad position?
Dr. Leman: Uh-huh, it does. Because I say, kids have this equalizer mentality, but it’s one thing to say and whine and have drama over, “I don’t want to go Dad’s house, okay? And have three days of war in your home, Mom. Okay?”
Or is it better just to say, “Honey, you got your dad’s cell phone number. Call him up. Tell him how you feel.”
“No, I don’t want to do that.”
“Oh, you just want to tell me how you feel? That’s not how it works, honey. You need to work that out with your dad. Your dad is fully expecting you to be there, I’m sure on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, and a few days after Christmas. If you want to alter that, you need to call dad. Have a plan, be articulate, tell him exactly what’s going on, couch it in as kindest words you can come up with.”
Doug: And do you say, “And I’ll sit here right by your side while you make that call and you can practice with me.”
Dr. Leman: Sure. Let’s role play. “But Dad’s gonna hate me.”
“Honey, Dad’s not gonna hate you. He understands you’re 13 years old. You’re off from school, you want to do some things with your friends. That doesn’t make you an odd duck.”
“Yeah, but I’m spending more time with you.”
“Honey, that’s because you live here. He understands that.”
Doug: “But Mom, that feels wrong. Like Dad’s kind of getting shafted on this.”
Andrea: “I feel guilty.”
Dr. Leman: “Honey, and you can see that anyway you want and you’re gonna have feelings one way or another no matter what you choose to do, but one thing you’re gonna learn in life is this is your life and you have to live your life. You can’t just live your life for other people. You have to sort of figure out who you are; you have to have convictions about life; you have to figure out what’s right, what’s true; and then you have to live your life accordingly.”
Andrea: What if the courts have mandated, well, the kid has to do this and that with this person and-
Dr. Leman: And many times they do and this is the dilemma for a lot of families that they-
Andrea: So then you don’t have this option?
Dr. Leman: You don’t, no.
Dr. Leman: I say you don’t, it depends on the relationship you have with your ex. You know if it’s a good, healthy relationship and you say to your husband, your ex-husband, “Hey, I’m gonna give you a head’s up on something. You know how I feel if the kids want to alter something with you, they need to talk to you. I’ll just give you a little backdrop. Jeremy has been invited to go to a basketball camp with one of his buddies over Christmas break and he realizes that it’s your Christmas. As I understand it, he’s gonna be, in one or another, asking you permission to go and do that, so I’ll just give you a head’s up on it.” Let it go with that. Then it’s up to that ex-husband and you keep the relationship where it belongs on those two people. Well, can you give somebody a head’s up in the interest of your family and your kid? Yeah, you can, sure. I just be cautioning you, don’t do it all for your kids. Your kids have to learn something here. It’s not easy.
Doug: It’s not easy, but I’m just sitting here going, “Wow,” because man, if you could teach your kid at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 to standup for themselves in situations like that, think about how their life would go.
Okay, second question is, “My ex lavishes them at Christmas with tons of gifts, and you know, I’m struggling, Dr. Leman, I can barely put food on the table and I’m gonna look like the uncaring, unloving parent, that I barely give them gifts. How do I deal with that?”
Dr. Leman: “Yeah, forget you, Mom. I’m going to Dad’s.” Yeah, well, it’s the reality. Many people when they enter the abyss of divorce, they never come out of it. Because whoever has the financial power rules in so many ways, because of the hedonistic nature of children and they buy their children. They buy their affection, they buy their love. Well, I’ve got a question for you, adult. “How’s that feel to buy your kid’s affection or buy your kid’s love, you creep.” That’s a lousy way to treat a kid, but I mean, people take advantage of that. I’m just telling you what it is. I’m not endorsing that.
But for that parent that doesn’t have much, just a reminder, you have it all in many ways. If you treat your kid with love and respect, and you’re brave enough to discipline them, and let your “no” be no, and “yes” be yes, and do some of the things that we talk about on our podcasts, some day those kids will rise up and call you blessed. They’ll realize the real deal. There’s a tremendous difference between fool’s gold and real gold. Take it to a jeweler and you’ll see the difference.
Doug: So I think, Dr. Leman, that’s what they need to hear is that, in time, they will be proven the loving parent or whatever, and don’t fall into that game. Is that what I’m hearing you say?
Dr. Leman: Yes, absolutely.
Doug: Any other tips for us parents in dealing with our ex’s at the holidays?
Dr. Leman: If you were just to say any other tips, I was tempted to say, stay married. Figure out a way to make this work. Once you go down divorce’s row, it’s awful tough. And again, we live in an era where you walk in a Hallmark store and you’ll find a card that says, “Congratulations on your divorce.” Really? Really? Congratulations on your divorce? You’re the one that married this guy. You’re the one that married this women, guys. It’s like pizza, that taste doesn’t go away some nights, it stays with you for a while.
These are not easy things to do, but again, when you’re divorced, again, do not bad mouth … This comes right out of my brand new book, “When Your Kid is Hurting”. Okay, and kids of divorce are hurting. I guarantee. It’s a wonderful book by the way, “When Your Kid is Hurting, Helping your child through the tough days” and it’s worth reading. Every parent, when your kid is hurting, says basically, the wrong things. So as you go through these things, a couple tips, don’t bad mouth your spouse. I don’t care how bad he is or she is, don’t bad mouth them. Again, the equalization of fact will take over where the kid will build him up and turn him or her into something they’re not.
And then, don’t use your kid as a narc, a spy. You know, “Was that man over there again?” “Was that woman there?” Don’t do that to your kids. Don’t put them in the middle. Treat your kids with respect and treat your former spouse with respect.
Doug: So, Dr. Leman, I’m going back to your first statement about if at possible, stay married. And I immediately I thought of “Have A New You By Friday”. I thought about “Sheet Music”. Actually, these are books that you have written. Any other books that you would say, “These will help you with your marriage.”
Dr. Leman: Well, “Have A New Husband By Friday” is classic because all of you women think you understand your husbands and I’m here to tell you, don’t. You’re clueless, most of you. You think you understand the male species, but we are very different. We’re very simple. We’re not as complex as you are. And in that book, along with some other books, I teach women how to talk to a man. Men are very simpleminded in many ways and they need to feel needed and wanted by you, and if they do, they’ll do anything for you. That’s a strong statement. If your husband feels needed and wanted by you, he’ll do anything for you. Those Leman books, again, there’s 62 Leman books out there. I counted them and a couple of them are good. I want to make that clear. But-
Doug: Did you write “Sex Begins in the Kitchen”?
Dr. Leman: Yes, in fact, that book, I have been asked to go in and do a major, major revision and I have been working on that book for now, a year and three months. And that book will be coming out sometime next year with a different title because it’s literally a new book. It’s been gutted that much, but I took some of the basic communication skill that was in the book “Sex Begins in the Kitchen, Because There’s Company in the Living Room” and I’ve incorporated that into a new called “The Intimate Connection” and that book is thoroughly a communication book for men and women. I think people are really gonna enjoy that book. It’s really turned out pretty good, and it was just sent to the publisher, actually this week, so it just got completed. It’s been a long time coming and people are gonna love “The Intimate Connection” when that comes out. If you really have hard time communicating and you get grunts and you just can’t hit it off with your husband or your wife in communication, this is the book that’ll help you.
Andrea: Sounds like we have another podcast in the making here.
Doug: Okay, okay, okay. But the only reason I brought it up is because it’s helped us, right? Those books have helped us. We’ve read “Sheet Music”, and so I just think that so many people are out there hurting by themselves and these books are fabulous for them so they don’t end up with an ass. I know that this is not the focus of this podcast, but it is helpful.
Andrea: Yep, yeah.
Dr. Leman: If your husband, for example, or your wife, won’t read a book, buy the audio CD and just stick it in his car, just put it in there. So when the engine starts, he’ll hear something. You’ll be surprised, there’s a lot of people who won’t pickup a book, but they’ll listen to an audio.
Doug: Yes they will.
Dr. Leman: And so, all those Leman books are available in all different forms and you can download … If you’ve got an e-reader of any kind, you can download it. If you look on … In fact, Doug announces and Andrea announces some specials sometimes that the publisher has and sometimes I’ll put things on my Facebook where you can download a book for $3.99 or something like that. Take advantage of that, my goodness, it’s cheaper than cheap.
Doug: So Andrea, I think you’re right. We should do a podcast on How Not To End Up With An Ex. Okay we’re into, we’re moving on.
Doug: Go buy the books. They’ll bless you and help you a lot. Thank you to Revel for making this podcast happen and for publishing those books, quite honestly. I know they’ve helped us a ton. They will bless you and I’ve been listening to audio books like crazy, so do the audio books if you need to or buy them. So, okay, enough of that. Andrea, you’re right. It’s another podcast. Well, we love being with you guys and we hope that you have an incredible holiday season and we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you.
Andrea: Thank you, Dr. Leman.
Doug: Thank you, guys, for listening. Take care.