How to cope when your child isn't invited to the birthday party, explaining endorphins to a curious teen, and how much detail of your upcoming divorce you should, and should not, share with your 12-year-old.
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"Good intentions do not always lead to good results."
My son is five years old and has a playmate that he plays with every week. They are off to new schools this fall but still see each other each week. When his friend had his birthday party, my son did not get invited. I was devastated and at first did not want to tell him. I did, and he was upset. How can I protect my son from this kind of rejection?
Signed upset mother.
I understand your feelings of devastation when your son was not invited to his friend's birthday party for no apparent reason. I remember when my widowed father was "stood up" for a date, and I took it very personally. I was furious with the woman for hurting my father's feelings. I'm certain that it affected me more than my dad. I can only imagine how much more devastating it was for you, because of your close relationship with your son. You had what I think of as a "mother bear" response to the situation. But even mother bears can cause a bad situation to become worse. Good intentions do not always lead to good results. Your son is very sensitive to your reactions and moods and will pick up on them very quickly. Was he upset because he was not invited to the party or because you were upset about his not being invited? It was probably not a good idea to tell him about the party, or to present it in a way that he could understand such as, "You're both going to new schools and you'll both have new friends."
"How important exercise is and that some medications can help you with the production. If you don't like to exercise and don't want to take medications, are there other ways to help avoid depression and increase your endorphins?"
Signed curious teen.
Endorphins, the body's natural narcotic, are the cause of "runner's high." They also enhance your immune system, relieve pain, and reduce stress. Some even say that they postpone the aging process. You can increase the level of endorphins in your body by eating spicy foods, falling in love, or eating chocolate. Doesn't that all sound like the perfect way to fight depression?
"I am divorcing my husband because he has been unfaithful to me. I am very hesitant about telling my 12-year-old son about his infidelities. I don't want my son to grow up like him! If we can keep that from him, do you think it is a good idea?"
Signed angry wife.
The other day I was walking down the street to get a gelato, a patient of mine from the past approached me. He wanted to thank me for my help during his divorce but especially for my constant admonition to not involve his daughter in the fight. He did not criticize her mother in front of her. He did not in any way try to draw his daughter over to his side of things. That daughter is now fully grown ad has made up her own mind about the mother and her behavior. She has often expressed appreciation to her father for not putting her in the middle as a child. He did not make her choose sides. I've told you this long story to illustrate a point. Not matter how angry you might be with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, do not involve your son or make him blame either parent for being the "bad guy." Your son is old enough that he may have questions about why you're splitting up, he may meet his father's new friend, he will have a great deal of loss and adjustment to that loss. While I don't think it's possible to keep anything from a 12-year-old child, how you respond to his questions will go a long way in helping him adjust to a difficult situation. He is safe, you both love him very much, and none of this is his fault.
-Romona Scholder, M.A., RNCS, Psychotherapist