, Salem, MA


January 18, 2013

Helping children cope after a grandparent's death


The loss of a grandparent for your children is the loss of a parent for you. Take the time and space you need to care for yourself so that you can care for them. Your ability to process and accept your feelings of sadness and grief provides a model that your children can follow.

Parenting tip: When children lose a loved one, such as a close grandparent, they do experience grief, even though they may not show it.

Q: My wife and I sometimes feel that we have lost control over our teenage children. We seem to have gotten to a place where they expect everything they ask for and if we say “no,” they literally have a fit. They are 13 and 15 years old and have acted like this since they were 5 and 7. How do we change this?

A: Probably the biggest change you’ll need to make is to be comfortable with your role as an authority to your children. The most effective parents provide nurturing combined with high expectations. Although your teens may not always like your decisions, when you parent with high levels of responsiveness and equally high demands, your teens will accept your authority and have respect for you as their parent.

Consider taking these steps as you move forward:

You and your partner should make a commitment to realigning the family structure and resuming control of decision-making and limit-setting.

Together, with your partner, communicate your new expectations to your children. Choose one or two behaviors that you want to change. Examples might be managing personal belongings, showing respect and following through on chores. Set limits around the behaviors you want to change. For example, regarding managing personal belongings, set the expectation that “people are responsible for putting their belongings away after using them.” Let your children know that if this does not happen, that after one warning, you will take the items away and your child will need to earn them back. Your teens will resist these changes initially, but resolve to stick to them anyway.

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