5 Ways to Know Your Kids Are Adapting Well to Your Divorce

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

As a divorced parent you owe it to your children to diligently watch their behavior, listen to their conversations and be aware of any changes that may be due to challenges related to the divorce. Children can adapt well to life after divorce. But it’s up to you to catch signs they may be confused, anxious, insecure or in other ways having problems in their new reality.

Here are 5 ways to know your children are doing well, despite your divorce:

  1. They continue to thrive at school

When school grades fall or aggressive behavior develops, parents need to be proactive and not wait on the sidelines. Conversations with teachers and school counselors can give you a better perspective on your child’s needs. Don’t hesitate to talk to your children as well to learn more about what’s going on and how they feel about the changes and new challenges in their lives. It’s imperative that you listen and not lecture. Allow them to vent so they feel heard. Only then can you be helpful in finding useful solutions.

  1. They’re making and keeping friends

If your children drop close friendships following your divorce they may be feeling shame, anger, embarrassment, guilt or other negative emotions. Some kids feel helpless at home and express these frustrations with classmates and friends. They may be misunderstood or rejected by these friends at a time when support is most needed. Giving them access to a compassionate child therapist can be helpful for them – and for you.

  1. They can talk about the divorce without high emotions

If your children are not intimidated or afraid to talk to you about the divorce, their other parent and time spent with them, that’s a good sign. It usually shows a healthy level of adjustment. Usually it also means both parents understand the importance of keeping lines of communication open. Mature parents don’t compete for their children’s approval or attention and they’re aware of the dangers of making kids feel guilty or shameful for loving their other parent.

  1. Their activity level hasn’t changed

Well-adjusted children have energy for after-school clubs, sports and other programs. If your child opts out of activities they used to enjoy, be aware. Usually that’s a sign that they are having coping issues with changes in family life. It’s wise to talk with a counselor and get involved with a support group for help before things progress in more negative directions.

  1. There are no new signs of depression, aggression or acting out

Kids who handle divorce well are comfortable with themselves and others. They behave with compassion and sensitivity to other children who may be hurting. Children coping with emotional issues and low self-esteem often show signs of depression, lethargy or age-regression such as bed-wetting. Others may act out aggressively with siblings, friends – even their pets. They lose their capacity for empathy and caring for others. This is a red flag warning that they may be in emotional distress and need a strong support system. Bring in school guidance counselors, co-parenting coaches and other mental health professionals to help you provide this safety net.

Parents who demonstrate a healthy attitude about their divorce usually have children who cope better. Never take for granted that the divorce is not affecting your child. Be diligent in watching for signs of problems. If issues arise, seek professional help immediately. That can make the difference between temporary setbacks and real long-term issues that create emotional and psychological problems with life-long consequences.

***     ***     ***

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love!  Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. To get Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, advice, tips, Coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 



Sharing Custody: How to Keep Kids Comfortable

By Amanda Lin

Having two places to call home can cause confusion and be a major adjustment to children. This is especially true when a family is going through a separation or divorce. Sharing custody and moving into a new household can severely change a child’s routine, causing them to feel disrupted and in most cases, upset or disoriented. Coupling these two changes together will often result in a challenging time for everyone. Luckily, there a few things that you can do to help smooth this transition.

Here are 4 ways to keep your kids comfortable in two homes when sharing custody.

4 Tips to Help Your Kids Adjust to Two Households

Before we dive into the tips, it’s important to mention this key information and advice. While you and your former spouse may be experiencing an array of arguments and custody agreements, it’s important to stay united around and in front of your children. Kids pick up on things rather quickly and will know when there is tension or anger in the air. This can cause them to act out in anger as well.

You should always show respect to the other parent when you are doing a drop off at their household. Try not to belittle their activities, living circumstances, or decisions. Your child will pick up on the disrespect and could react in an unfavorable way.

Lastly, never use your child as a medium for communication. Try to avoid using them to relay messages or using them as a way to find out information on your ex. Speak directly to the other parent to mediate any issues or concerns.

Tip 1: Get Your Child Involved

Transform the idea of moving from fear to fun by letting your child have a say in their new bedroom if you are the parent who has moved out. Allow them to pick out the colors of their walls, decor, and bed sheets. This will help build their excitement about visiting their new room. Doing this will also allow your child to feel as if they have more control in the situation. This is important since everything else around them is changing without their consent.

Tip 2: Give the Room Some Familiarity

Too much newness can be a bit daunting and overwhelming for a child. Help them adjust to their new surroundings by bringing or repurchasing a few of their favorite toys or decor pieces from home. This will help them feel more comfortable and more at home. If possible, talk to your ex about items that could easily be transported between homes. Packing a few of their favorite toys is often a good solution to this problem.

Tip 3: Establish a Consistent Calendar

Since your child’s routine has been disrupted, the first thing to do is try to give them a new one. Establish a clear and consistent calendar with the other parent and work hard not to switch off any days. Your child should have an exact idea of when they will see you next so that they can get excited and ready to change households. Help your child feel more secure by having a dependable schedule.

Tip 4: Don’t Compete With One Another

If you’re the parent who remains at the original home, it may be hard to hear your child talk about their new room, home, or neighborhood. Don’t use this as an opportunity to compete with your ex. Which means you shouldn’t give your child’s room a makeover or buy them new toys. Your child doesn’t need anymore change right now.

Alternatively, you should try to offer words of support and excitement to your child when they tell you about their new room at their other parent’s home. This is part of putting your child first and showing them that you and your ex will always be united when it comes to them.

Remember, during tough times like these, reassurance is key. Constantly remind your child of your love and support for them. Transitioning into a sharing custody routine will not be easy on either of you, but following these tips will make the process easier.

“Amanda Lin is a content writer, currently writing for Steven D. Miller, P.A. She has written about personal relationships, technology, and music for a variety of verticals. In her free time, she loves to travel, go hiking, and try new restaurants.”



Divorce Report 2018: The Human Side

We all know the divorce rate is high, though it’s thankfully not as high as the 50% we often hear. It’s actually lower but the exact number varies depending on the study. Since divorce is still a common problem and grey divorce (among people over age 50) is on the rise, WP Diamonds decided to do some research on the human side of divorce. To that end, they conducted a survey of 1,018 divorcées in the United States and asked them about their personal experiences and insights.

Study: The Basics

The average age of participants was 23.2 years old when they first married and 38.7 when they separated, making 15.5 years the average length of a marriage. Notably, those who married under 25 stayed married longer (16.8 years) than those who got hitched when they were older (11.3 years).

 Why Divorce?
‘We just didn’t love each other anymore’ say one in five when asked why they got divorced. But the number one reason turned out to be communication problems, though this seems to be a more important reason for younger participants. One in four who married before 25 names it, compared to only one in five who married after 36. So, what does it mean exactly? Well, turns out ‘communication problems’ is a euphemism for some seriously toxic forms of interaction: contempt, criticizing the other’s personality, defensiveness and stonewalling (not communicating at all).

For 24% of those who married under 25, infidelity was a factor. After that, the other main motivators cited for divorce are: the inability to resolve conflict (22.2%), incompatible life goals (10.2%), lack of individual freedom (12.6%) and financial problems (12.6%). Domestic violence was given as a reason by 3.5%, though unfortunately that relatively low number doesn’t mirror data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

 Selling the Wedding Ring
Since 49% of respondents said their separation cost more than $10,000 (the longer the marriage, the costlier the divorce), it’s no wonder many divorcées look for creative ways to bulk up their bank accounts. Interestingly enough, the majority of the participants sold jewelry (the old wedding ring as a symbolic gesture perhaps), clothes and other personal belongings. Women also preferred to borrow money from friends if necessary, whereas men would rather go to the bank for a loan.

 Seeking Help
Most participants sought help from a lawyer (40%) and one in four considered visiting a therapist to navigate the emotional stages of separation. Those people seeking therapy reported dealing with aspects of grief: denial, pain, uncertainty, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and acceptance.

Tying the Knot, Again
But to end on a positive note, all this hasn’t made us lose our faith in marriage at all. Only 9% of respondents said they would never marry again, compared to almost three-fourths who said they would consider getting remarried or had already even tied the knot for a second or third time!

By Dorien Dijkwel

 Want to know more? Go to https://www.wpdiamonds.com/divorce-report-2018/



Why Divorce is so Hard on Children

To many parents seeking divorce, the final divorce decree can be a very welcome relief from stress and anxiety. The divorce process often emphasizes tension between spouses, and the hassle of attending court hearings or lawyer meetings can cause significant fissures to parents’ every-day schedules and routines. For these reasons, finalizing a divorce can feel as though a significant weight has been removed. To children, however, the finality of divorce can feel like the exact opposite.

Regardless of age, divorce causes significant stress on children. Even infants can feel the tension of divorcing parents, which can lead to irritability and clinginess starting at a very early age. To children, the divorce process can start well before their parents actually file for the divorce itself. For many, especially younger children, the parent’s decision to seek divorce may feel like a result of the child’s own actions. These unfound feelings of blame a child may experience can manifest themselves in negative responses such as regression, fear of abandonment, and trouble sleeping.

For children, divorce is a complete upheaval of their daily lives. Children who have spent their entire lives in a two-parent household are now being forced to split their time with each parent. It is common for children to worry that the non-custodial parent may stop loving them or disappear entirely, because it is hard for children to comprehend the reasoning behind it all. This is especially difficult considering that Courts inherently (and for good reason) avoid including children in divorce proceedings. Although Courts rarely heed the requests of children, it is not unheard of for the child’s wishes to be heard. In many amicable divorces, parents participate in mediation and arbitration to discuss whether the child’s wishes should be involved in the proceedings, often to everyone’s mutual benefit.

Along the same vein, children generally do not experience the same relief a parent may feel after a long and difficult custody battle finally comes to a conclusion. To parents, final divorce papers may be a welcome end to an arduous process. But children have to live with the result of the divorce for the rest of their lives.  For younger children that feel that the divorce is a result of something they did personally, the finality of the divorce may create even more stress. This stress can ultimately lead to intense feelings of guilt, depression, and may cause the child to experience continuing problems with trusting others.

On the other hand, older children, who have a better understanding of what a divorce realistically means for their family and their daily lives, may feel as though it is their duty to salvage the marriage themselves. This can create significant problems down the road, when the child realizes that they cannot bring their parents back together. The final divorce decree can create a feeling of helplessness within children who believe they, alone, can solve their parents’ marriage problems. Unfortunately this means that the conclusion of the divorce may actually be the most difficult part of the process.

Children react differently to divorces based on a number of factors such as age, gender, and disposition. It is not uncommon for boys to become more aggressive and start fighting with other children at school. However for girls, aggression is often exchanged for depression and anxiety. Younger children often need more coddling and attention. Older children may reject affection altogether, as it may be hard for an older child to reconcile seeing the love of between their parents fade.

Understanding the reasons why a child is having a hard time coping with divorce is the first step to understanding how to properly react to the stress. One of the easiest things a parent can do is to talk with their child about the things that are bothering them. Establishing with a child early-on that the divorce is not their fault is vital. For parents of children who feel it is their job to fix the marriage, having an open and honest discussion about the aspects of the divorce that a child can and cannot control can be very helpful. Another helpful option is counseling, which can help a child throughout the divorce by providing a means for the child to communicate without favoring one parent.

Parents can easily get caught up in their own stress during a divorce, but it is important to be aware of the potential problems children may face as a result of the divorce as well. Being aware of why a child is reacting one way or another is extremely helpful towards working through the overall problem. For this reason, understanding why divorce is particularly hard for children is one of the keys to helping said children cope with the stress they are experiencing themselves.

Bio: Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer, currently writing for Crouse Law Group. He’s written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.



7 Steps to Forgiving Your Ex Once and For All

Forgiving others and yourself is infinitely terrifying yet necessary for achieving healthy relationships. It’s about being willing to acknowledge that you are capable of being wounded and able to risk exposing yourself. It also means that you’re stepping out of the role of a victim and taking charge of your life.

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts, yet people often express clichés such as “forgive and forget” as if it’s an easy process. However, the importance of forgiveness takes on a new meaning after divorce because no one marries with the intent of divorcing so hurt and shame can run deep.

At times people equate forgiveness with weakness and it’s also widely believed that if you forgive someone you’re condoning their behavior. In my case, I held a grudge against my ex for many years and was unable to forgive him for his part in our divorce because it made me feel vulnerable to being hurt again.

But once I understood that it takes courage to forgive someone who you believe wronged you, and that it’s not about accepting, condoning, or excusing someone’s behavior, I was free to forgive my ex and myself for the pain we caused each other during our marriage and divorce.

What does forgiveness mean?

What does forgiveness really mean? Forgiving is one way of letting go of your baggage so that you can heal and move forward with your life. It’s about giving yourself, your children, and perhaps even your new partner, the kind of future you and they deserve – unhampered by hurt and recycled anger. It’s about choosing to live a life wherein others don’t have power over you and you’re not dominated by unresolved anger, bitterness, and resentment.

According to author Deborah Moskovitch, forgiveness is not letting someone off the hook. She writes: “Forgiveness is NOT the same as forgetting what happened, or condoning your ex-spouses actions, giving up claims to a fair settlement or reconciliation. While forgiveness may help others, it first and foremost can help you.”

What if I can’t forgive?

Many experts believe that forgiveness is a critical aspect of divorce recovery but that acceptance is a worthy option in cases where you’re not ready to forgive. In her groundbreaking book How Can I Forgive You? Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D. explains that acceptance is a responsible, authentic choice to an interpersonal injury when the offender won’t engage in the healing process by apologizing.

While Dr. Abrahams encourages readers to muster up the courage to forgive others who have wronged them, she also says that forgiveness that’s not genuine is “cheap” – so not worth much. She writes, “For those of you who have been wronged, I encourage you to take care of yourself, be fair, and seek life-serving ways to cleanse your wound.” She suggests that while genuine forgiveness is a worthwhile goal, acceptance is the middle ground between unforgivable hurt and cheap forgiveness.

There are many reasons why people have difficulty letting go of the past and reversing the painful consequences of their past, writes Dr. Fred Luskin in his acclaimed book Forgive For Good. He points out that people may take on the pain of others’ mistakes because they take their offenses personally.

Dr. Luskin believes that individuals heal best when they react as if the injury happened to a close friend. He posits that when people create a grievance story which focuses on their suffering and assigns blame, their suffering is magnified.

Luskin writes, “Forgiveness is not a focus on what happened in the past and neither is it remaining upset or holding onto grudges. You may have been hurt in the past, but you are upset today. Both forgiveness and grievances are experiences that you have in the present.”

Resentment

One of the biggest problems with ongoing resentment in post-divorce relationships is that it often leads to withdrawal and poor communication. And if you’re bottling up feelings of anger, sadness, or disappointment often, this can lead to feelings of resentment.

If your feelings of resentment toward your ex are persistent, it can cause you to hold a grudge which is usually deep seated and often the result of an injury or insult that has occurred. People hold grudges due to both real and fancied wrong doing. Either way, the bitterness that comes with a grudge – even if understandable – comes with a price. Studies show that letting hostility fester can lead to depression, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, immune system problems, and higher risk of stroke.

7 steps to forgiving your ex:

  1. Write down three ways your hurt feelings have impacted (or are still impacting) your life. Gain awareness of the emotions you experience about your past hurt. Talking to a close friend or therapist can help facilitate this process.
  2. Find a way to dislodge yourself from negative emotions. Examples include therapy, yoga, improving your physical health, and practicing expressing thoughts, feelings, and wishes in a respectful way. Resentment can build when people sweep things under the rug, so be vulnerable and don’t bury negative feelings.
  3. Take small steps to let go of grudges or grievances. Repair the damage by finding ways to soothe hurt feelings. This might include writing a letter or release to the person who injured you – even if you don’t mail it. Your letter might read something like: “I release you from the pain you caused me when we used to argue.”
  4. Take responsibility for your part in the conflict or dispute. One person’s ability to do this can change the dynamic of the relationship. Dr.’s Julie and John Gottmanwrite: “one person’s response will literally change the brain waves of the other person.” Apologize to the other person when appropriate. This will validate their feelings and promote forgiveness and allow you both to move on.
  5. Don’t let wounds fester. Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about holding on to hurt feelings. Processing what happened briefly will allow you to let resentments go so you can move on to a healthier relationship. Keep the big picture in mind.
  6. Accept that people do the best they can and attempt to be more understanding. This does not mean that you condone the hurtful actions of others. You simply come to a more realistic view of your past. As you take stock, you will realize that all people operate out of the same basic drives, including self-interest.
  7. Practice forgiveness by thinking like a forgiving person. Avoid holding a grudge and declare you are free to stop playing the role of victim. After all, we are all imperfect. For some people, genuine forgiveness is not possible, but acceptance is a worthy goal.

Practicing forgiveness allows you to turn the corner from feeling like a victim to becoming a more empowered person. Experts believe that forgiving an ex can allow you to break the cycle of pain, move on with your life, and to embrace healthier relationships after divorce. However, forgiveness takes time and has a lot to do with letting go of those things you have no control over.

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available at many outlets and bookstores.



“The Talk”: A Caring and Confident Approach to Telling the Kids About Your Plan to Separate or Divorce

Lisa Gabardi, Ph.D., LLC

Sharing the news with your children that you and their other parent are divorcing, moving into two homes, and living separately can create great angst and worry.  What to say? What not to say? As parents, you want to protect your children from harm, yet you know that giving them this news is going to be painful.

You probably have lots of questions about how to handle this important conversation well and minimize harm to your children. And, there’s no trial runs or practice talks. There’s really only the one opportunity to have this important first talk about the divorce with your children. I know you want to do your best in having this important talk with your children.

The words you choose will set a framework for your children view the divorce, what they remember about it, and will set a tone for them about how you and their other parent intend to conduct yourselves through this process. For these reasons, this is a very important step in the divorce process. You want to be prepared, able to handle your own feelings, and be available to answer your children’s questions and support them.

In order to help you feel confident and prepared, I have identified the key messages you will want to send to your children in this brief, but important talk.

#1  Share the news. “We have something important to discuss. Mom/Dad and Dad/Mom are separating/getting a divorce/moving into two homes.”

#2 Give a brief, age appropriate explanation that avoids blame, is honest, (but doesn’t share too much detail about the intricacies of your marriage) and validates your children’s reality of what they may have witnessed/experienced/felt in the home. “We haven’t been able to get along as married partners and think we can be better parents from two homes than we can be married partners together.”  “We haven’t been able to resolve some significant problems/differences in our marriage so we are getting divorced but will continue parenting from two homes.”

#3 This is not the child’s fault. They didn’t cause the divorce and they can’t fix it. “This is an adult problem between Mom/Dad. This is not because of you, is not your fault, and you can’t fix it.”   “Love between adults can end, but the love between a parent and a child doesn’t end.”

#4 Ask about and validate feelings. “I’m guessing you might be having all kinds of different feelings about this news.”  “I can understand how you could feel that way.”

#5 Identify specific things about their lives that will change. “Dad will be moving into an apartment at the beginning of next month.” “Some days you’ll be at Dad’s and some days you’ll be at Mom’s house.”

#6 Reassure them about the parts of their lives that will stay the same. “You’ll still go to the same school.” “Mom/Dad will still take you to dance/soccer class.” “You’ll still get to play with Pat on the weekends/afterschool.”

#7 Reassure your children that you love them and will be there for them. “We love you very much.” “We’re sorry to have to give you this news.” “We will always be your parents and will always be there for you.”  “We will take care of you and help you through this transition.”

#8 Ask them if they have any questions. Answer honestly, but with appropriate boundaries about information they don’t need, and appropriate to each child’s age. It’s okay to say “We don’t know yet, but will let you know once we have that figured out.”

Hopefully, you now have specific ideas and scripts to help guide the talk you have with your children. You have bullet points for things to cover, to make it easier to remember. Of course, every family is different. You will need to adapt these general guidelines to the specifics of your family situation and the particular ages and temperaments of your children.

With these tips, you will be ready to help your children know that your family will ultimately be okay, and that their relationships with each of you as parents will remain secure and protected. With your thoughtful handling of this important conversation, your children can feel reassured that, while their family is reorganizing, their parents remain available to them, will continue to parent them, and they will be alright.

Still feeling unsteady? Still have questions and concerns? Wishing you had more details and further discussion of these key points? What about touchy topics such as when parents don’t agree with the “we decided to divorce” perspective or when one parent has had an affair? If this information leaves you wanting more, I discuss these key points, plus others, as well as these tough topics further in “The Talk”: A Caring and Confident Approach to Telling the Kids About Your Plan to Separate or Divorce(TM).  Learn more about this educational video series, with companion tip sheets and worksheet hereIt also includes co-parenting do’s and don’ts to set you on a path toward successful post-divorce co-parenting. While on the Products and Free Guides page, check out other resources as well; including a free tip sheet for Telling Your Children About Divorce.

 



Divorce or Stay Together? Unhappy Parents are Faced with a Challenge

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Deciding whether to divorce is a tough, complex and controversial subject. There are no right or  wrong answers … nor are there any simplistic black and white solutions. I am sharing my own perspective, based on my own personal choices. I welcome you to contribute your own perspective as long as you are respectful of the rights of others to see the world in a different light.

I am the author of a book about parenting and divorce, focusing on my own life experience. I also grew up in a family that stayed together for the sake of the kids, so I have a keen understanding of both sides on this topic. Obviously neither option is one any family would choose – they both create pain and hurt.

However, I am opting in on the side of divorce as preferable to years of living in a home where  parents fight, disrespect one another and children grow up surrounded by sadness and anger. That’s the world I grew up in and the scars are still with me today, many decades later. Dr. Phil often says, “I’d rather come from a dysfunctional family than be in one.” I firmly believe he’s right.

Staying in a marriage only for the kids is a physical choice that doesn’t touch upon the emotional and psychological pain children endure when their parents are a couple in name only. They experience no positive role model of how marriage can and should be lived. Happiness, harmony, collaboration, respect and joy are all absent when parents are emotionally divorced while still living together. Children feel it, are confused by it, often blame themselves, are usually guilt-ridden and experience little peace in childhood.

That’s why I chose the other route when my marriage was failing. However, I intuitively understood what not to do in divorce. I consciously created what I call a child-centered divorce, co-parented with my former husband, shared custody and maintained a positive relationship with my ex for the decade to follow. Most gratifying for me is the satisfaction of my now adult son writing the introduction to my book, acknowledging the merits of my philosophy and behavior.

How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – With Love! provides an innovative new way to have the dreaded “divorce” talk. What makes the book unique is that I don’t just tell parents what to say. I say it for them! I use fill-in-the-blank age-appropriate templates to show parents how to create a storybook sharing family photos and history as a successful way to break the news to their children.

Therapists, attorneys, mediators, educators and other professionals from around the U.S. and beyond have been endorsing the book and the value of my novel approach to this subject. Six therapists contribute their expertise to the book, as well. My purpose is to raise the consciousness of divorcing couples so they will stop, talk and create a caring plan of action before having that first crucial conversation with their children. I provide six essential messages every child needs to hear and understand when divorce or separation are pending. I also advise parents, for the sake of their kids, to choose to create a “child-centered divorce” and highlight all the short- and long-term advantages in the months, years and decades to come.

If parents have the maturity and determination to re-connect, get professional assistance and stay together in a renewed commitment to a happy marriage – that would absolutely be ideal. The entire family will benefit and the healing will be a blessing.

However, if children are being raised in a war zone or in the silence and apathy of sleep-walking through a dead marriage, divorce may open the door to a healthier, happier future for all concerned. But only – and this is the key point – only if parents consciously work on creating a harmonious, collaborative child-centered divorce that puts the children’s emotional and psychological needs first!

 *     *     *

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, personal coaching services, co-parenting e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

© Rosalind Sedacca   All rights reserved.

 



Spending Time With Your Children After Divorce? Make Every Moment Count

Divorce is a tricky thing for all parties involved. However, many times parents are so focused on their own needs that they forget about their children’s needs. In some cases, they may try to vie for the attention of their kids by purchasing large gifts or using them as a pawn to get what they want.

As a responsible parent, you would never want to do something like that. Whether you are the custodial parent or just get weekends doesn’t matter. You need to make sure that every minute counts. So, if you only have your children on the weekend, how can you make it fun and stress-free? Here are some tips for quality family time.

1. Have Activities Planned

Sure, after any divorce, your children are going to have lots of questions. Rather than giving them too much idle time to sit and think, have something fun planned. Some downtime is appropriate, but you need to have something fun planned too. Having fun doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money either. You should know what your child likes and what they dislike. Even if it’s playing a board game, do something that makes him or her smile. Focus on the positive and less on the negative.

2. Find Time to Talk

While you don’t want to make the whole time you spend about the divorce and how things went wrong, make sure that you have time to talk to your child. Even if they don’t want to talk about family stuff, you need to find out what’s going on in his or her life. Keeping the doors of communication open is advantageous. How are they doing in school, and do they have a new friend or love interest? Encourage them to talk about whatever they need to. You are at a disadvantage if you only see them on weekends, but you need to make sure they know you are still there for them.

3. Do Something They Love

The adult idea of fun usually isn’t head banging at a rock concert. However, your child may feel like that is the best thing in the world. Sometimes, as a parent, you must sacrifice and do something that your child will love. They probably accompany you to many things that they don’t like too. It may not be a concert, but find something that allows them to make memories. Take plenty of pictures and a few selfies to document the trip.

4. Be Sure to Have Bonding Time

While a concert or a trip to the mall is fun, it won’t necessarily bring you closer together. In most cases, bonding comes from sharing your heart with each other. Part of going through a divorce is talking about all the emotions going on. Even working together on a school project can make a huge difference as your child will feel that he or she still receives all the support they need – while you will get the chance to be more present in their life.

5. Reassure Them of Your Love

One of the most significant problems with the breakup of a marriage is that children often feel confused. Some children may feel that they were the cause of the union ending. Others may feel like you don’t love them anymore if they only get to see you for short periods of time.

Try to reassure your child of your love. If you must tell him or her ten times while they are with you that weekend, make sure they know that your divorce is not their fault. They must know that your love for them is unwavering. Problems between parents always affect a child. It’s up to you whether you let it change your relationship with your child.

Making the Time Spent Memorable

You want every moment you spend with your child to count. One of the greatest things you can do for them is to try to maintain a relationship with their other parent. Many ex-couples are still good friends even though their relationship didn’t work. Some even go as far as taking their children on vacation together. If you can work together in that capacity or at least be friendly, then you will help build strong and healthy kids.

On the other hand, even if you and your ex-spouse don’t have the best relationship, never speak ill of them in front of your child. Trying to make the other party look bad may hurt them worse than the divorce. Plus, if your child feels that you are always negative about a person they love, they may dread coming to stay with you. This can make the time you spend together full of angst.

If it helps, make a list of all the things you may want to do with your child. The list can include things like:

•Go Roller Skating
•Watch New Movie On DVR
•Support them with homework and/or visit a museum
•Bake Brownies
•Play That Board Game They Love
•Just Chill and Snuggle on The Couch

Remember, it doesn’t have to be big or break the bank, it just must be enjoyable. Spending time with your child should be a welcomed break from the daily grind, and they should enjoy seeing you as much as you enjoy seeing them. Show them a good time and they won’t be able to wait to come back again.

Author Bio: Sean Blaney is an event planner with a passion for self-development and a healthy, positive lifestyle. He is also the co-founder of CalendarTable, a site that provides, among other information, a highly personalizable calendar printout formats for a better time management.

 



Making Holidays Magical for Kids After Divorce

When we think holidays, we think magical time of year for children.

But, when it comes to children of divorce – – not so fast. For far too many of these children, holidays mean split loyalties, guilt, sadness and regret.

Why split loyalties? Even if children have no choice as to where they are going to be for a holiday, the mere fact of being with one parent versus the other means an inherent sense of longing for all that could have been.

Why guilt? Children are acutely attuned to the fact that holiday conversations can quickly devolve into holiday vexations and that they are the identified cause of yet another source of exasperation between their parents.

Why sadness? Psychologists know that the experience of what they call “cognitive dissonance” is an exquisitely uncomfortable and irreconcilable state where two sets of emotions or thoughts cannot contemporaneously co-exist. Children wonder how they can manage to have a joyous holiday with Dad while simultaneously longing to be with their Mom (who in this all too real scenario is ironically the one “home alone”).

Why regret? Many children of divorce naturally take on a tremendous burden, a syndrome known as  “parentification,” whereby they feel that it is their grown-up responsibility to somehow proactively change the dynamic between their parents while inevitably recognizing that they are really too helpless to do so.

It always strikes me that, for most children of divorce, the heartache attendant to the holidays does not diminish as divorce anniversaries wax and wane: instead, this is a yearly occurrence that stirs and reawakens abject wounds and unhealed scars. Even as children become adolescents and young adults who “vote with their feet,” the mere fact of making a holiday choice reawakens the old worries: “How is my Mom going to feel since I am with my Dad this year? I hate making her so sad….”; or “It is just easier to be with friends so my parents don’t think I am choosing as between the two of them.”

Consider typical holiday custody provisions – does it resemble more of a bus schedule or a child-centered schedule?

Christmas

In 2017 and all applicable odd-numbered years, the children shall be with the Father on December 24 as of noon until December 25 at noon, at which time the Father shall drop the children off at the Mother’s residence. The children shall remain with the Mother for the first half of the remainder of the Winter break, at which point the Mother shall drop the children off at the Father’s residence for the second half of the Winter break. In 2018 and all applicable even-numbered years, the parties shall use the reverse of that schedule.

Yet, despite best efforts to make these schedules as clear and even-handed for the parents as possible, glitches still arise. I recall vividly one case in particular in which, as a Parenting Coordinator, I was asked to make the following decision: since the children were not supposed to be with the Mother until noon on Christmas Eve Day, her request that they fly out to her on an 11:50 a.m. flight was denied by the Father since it did not comply with the agreed upon schedule. The Father felt that the Mother had purposefully sabotaged his time with the children by attempting to circumvent the mutually negotiated schedule by booking an earlier (by 10 minutes!) flight.

In an interesting twist, I have spoken with many adult children of divorce who have instituted a parenting plan for their divorced parents. Thanksgiving is always with Mom and Christmas is always with Dad: now that the proverbial empowerment shoe is on the other foot, it is frequently the parents who feel shortchanged. But no matter who is in control of the planning, the fact remains that these children of divorce feel no less wistful that they have to do workarounds because their parents literally refuse to come to the holiday table together.

Recently, my client told me that she and her ex-spouse spent the first night of Chanukah together with their teenage son. Whereas Dad lavished Michael with 10 gifts, Mom presented Michael with just one present. It was not lost on Michael that his parents were off to the races as they jockeyed to win  the gifting competition…. not surprisingly, Michael did not enjoy a moment of the celebration as he self-consciously felt obliged to give each parent’s gift precise equal measures of thanks and praise.

Are there any antidotes to making the holidays a happier time of year for children of divorce?

As to those divorced parents who manage to put the best interests of their children first and foremost, they have my utmost admiration and respect. I am particularly impressed with parents who even manage to share a holiday meal or tradition together so that their children can have the best of all worlds. From a psychological standpoint, although this can mean that parents are directly playing into a child’s fantasy of having their parents reunite, I believe the modeling of putting past conflicts behind them (at least for the day or dinner) far outweighs the risks of feeding the fantasy.

But if emotions are still too raw such that divorced parents do not feel they can endure a family meal, then I would urge them to consider other creative ways to inject joy into their children’s holidays.  One such option might entail the pooling of their resources to buy their child a single and meaningful present. In this way, the child can always reflect back and remember fondly that this gift was from both parents who were able to at least make an agreement over the choice of a present – even if they cannot agree on a host of other matters.

Another option is to ensure that you, or your child, has a gift for the other parent: this signals the message that despite the demise of the marital bond, your parental devotion to the spirit of the holiday is alive and well. Last year, when my ex-husband and his wife came to pick up our daughter so they could start their holiday time together, I presented him with a box of chocolates – simply saying that I hoped they were still his particular favorites and reminiscing with him about the time that our dog ate a pound of chocolates the day we got engaged. It was a delicious, joyful and unexpected moment all around. I will never forget the look of surprise and appreciation on our daughter’s face as she got to watch us in a rare tender moment. He, of course, was stunned and grateful. And his wife, recognizing the simple gesture for what it was meant to be, was gracious about the whole interaction.

So, as the holidays approach, let’s use our parental wizardry to enable our children to again bask in the magic of the season by transforming what might otherwise be bittersweet reminiscences into joyous memories.

Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW

Partner

Fields and Dennis LLP

80 William Street, Suite 210

Wellesley, MA 02481

Tel: 781.489.6776

Fax: 781.489.6233

VShemin@FieldsDennis.com

www.FieldsDennis.com

 Vicki L. Shemin, J.D, LICSW, ACSW is a family law attorney, clinical social worker, mediator, collaborative attorney and parenting coordinator (and a divorced mom of two adult children of divorce) practicing at Fields and Dennis LLP in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

 

 



5 Great Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem After Divorce

By Amanda Wilks

Nothing can be quite as devastating to one’s self-esteem as a divorce. No matter how amicable a parting is or the conditions under which it happens, moving past such a monumental part of one’s life comes with a bevy of lifestyle changes to adapt to and emotional toils to overcome.

The urge to remain sedentary and wallow in a separation might seem overpowering. At the same time, freeing oneself up from another person is a golden opportunity to spend time bettering oneself rather than working on a relationship.

The first step to moving past such a big life change is approaching the coming days with a healthy attitude. Yes, chances are you don’t feel your best. No, the pain won’t pass immediately. The lessons taught by separation are hard to ignore yet taking the right frame of mind forward will only help you in the days to come.

If you’re not sure how to keep yourself feeling chipper and occupied during strange stretches of free time, boosting your self-esteem can be as simple as any of these self-improving tips.

1.Exercise!

The urge to stay on the couch and feel sorry for yourself is probably going to be a strong motivating factor in the early days after your divorce. This is perfectly natural, but starting a healthy routine instead of settling for less-than-healthy urges can be vital in ensuring you stay active over the long term.

The physical benefits of exercise speak for themselves. The mental benefits, on the other hand, are wide and varied but may not seem obvious to outside viewers. Exercise is proven to help those suffering from depression and anxiety through the release of endorphins paired with changes of scenery and other small touches. You’ll likely manage to sleep better after a day full of exercise, too, which is a benefit in a league all of its own.

2.Take Up a Hobby

Relationships take time. There are very real situations that require a lot of care and attention that draw us away from things we hold near and dear to ourselves, making a period of separation a perfect time to get back into something we once enjoyed or simply explore new hobbies and interests as they come along.

Building social links and promoting healthy time management are but a few upsides to taking on a hobby. If your hobby is one that leads to something tangible through art, gardening, cooking or other creative outlets you just might find that the creation process can help boost your self-worth through reaffirming your ability to create and impact the world around you.

3. Spend Time with Friends and Family

The inertia that comes with becoming your own person can be taken in healthy or unhealthy ways. To make the most of coming to terms with your reclaimed independence, make sure you take time to socialize with those you love in a less romantic context.

Family and friend ties can help keep your stress levels low and having a network of support during a troubling time can be absolutely vital. Try not to let recent events shape your conversations and activities at all times, though: Everyone needs time to just unwind and forget about the world be it through sharing hobbies or going out for a spa day. Let the world take a back seat so your mind can rest whenever possible.

4. Keep Your Diet in Check

If romantic comedies are to be believed, every romantic split ends in someone eating gallons of ice cream without any negative repercussions. To some degree, you’ll probably feel a lessened sense of fulfillment from cooking for yourself and your snacking habits may start to get out of control. Stress eating is often a symptom of emotional toil and a fluctuation in weight can really throw your self-image out of whack.

Like with most diets, try to stay away from eating the cheapest, fastest options you can find. Take time out of your day to prepare proper meals and seek out snacks that aren’t stuffed with fat and excess sugar. Fruits and vegetables are sorely lacking in many a diet, yet their inclusion can ensure you don’t lose out on vital nutrients you need to stay happy and healthy. If you need to eat some comfort food here and there to stay on track as a whole, go for it! Just keep your health goals in mind.

5. Stay Positive

Even if you diet well and keep a healthy attitude you’re probably not going to be the happiest person around. Negative thoughts will come and go yet keeping a positive attitude is one of the strongest ways to ensure your self-confidence stays high. It may sound silly, but thinking negatively often leads to acting in a way that makes those negative perceptions come true.

Conclusion

Divorce isn’t the end of the world. As long as you work towards taking care of yourself and try to keep a positive outlook on life you’ll bounce back from it just as you would any other hardship.

Stay active, keep in touch with friends and try to remind yourself that it’s just another unfortunate part of life. Nothing can stop you unless you stop yourself!

Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a motivational writer, cooking enthusiast and contributing author for http://thekitchenadvisor.com/. She discovered her passion for gastronomy when she was going through a rough breakup. Back then, cooking was the only thing she would relax her and as the time passed, she grew fond of this new and exciting hobby. Amanda is now taking cooking classes and hopes to become a renowned chef. Learn more about her on Twitter.