Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Please read this before you tell the kids

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Welcome our guest blogger – Rosalind Sedacca, an advisor to Parental Wisdom®

July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month. In recognition of the challenges divorcing parents face, divorce professionals across the nation have teamed up to provide parents with free gifts and other bonuses related to divorce, parenting and transition issues.  Visit the link above to access valuable information and tools!

Getting Divorced?

What to Tell your Spouse Before You Tell the Kids!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Ever go on a vacation without making plans in advance? The consequences are usually disastrous. If you fail to plan ahead regarding newspaper and mail delivery, feeding your pets or watering the plants, knowing where your destination is and reserving your accommodations, your vacation is likely to be filled with disappointment, frustration and even heartache.

What about preparing your children for your pending divorce? Do you have a plan – or are you going to wing it without any prior thought? For children, divorce is a monumental life experience for which they have no preparation. The very foundation of their security – their love for Mom and Dad – is being thrown into turmoil. Everything they knew and accepted as part of routine daily life is going to be affected in one way or another.  They don’t know what to expect and have little source of comfort other than their parents who are announcing the devastating news.

How can you help your children through this process? First, sit down face to face and talk to your children’s other parent, as if their lives depended on it. Regardless of your involvement with attorneys or other legal resources, this should be a conversation between two parents who love their children and want the best outcome for them.

Agree to set aside the emotional drama of your feelings for one another at this time … the hurt, anger, resentment, jealousy, competition, frustration, regret … and focus on just one issue: How will we tell our children about the divorce?

  1. Put yourselves in your children’s shoes.

Picture each of your children and talk to each other about how each child is likely to feel and react to the news. Put yourselves in their shoes and feel their emotions with deep compassion. You know your children. Discuss their ages and personalities. Are they likely to blame themselves … erupt in anger … beg you to stay together … want to run away and hide? Find a place of agreement and be prepared with the most comforting words and reassurances that will resonate with each child.

  1. Remind them they are not at fault.

Many children feet responsible in some way for their parent’s relationship problems and divorce. They need reassurance, again and again, that the problem is not about them – even if you’ve been fighting about parenting issues. Assure them it’s not their behavior that caused your conflict – and there is nothing they can do to make things different. You can say something like, “Mom and Dad have been having problems. We don’t agree about certain key issues and that creates conflict. So we are going to make some changes, but none of this is your fault and never was.”

  1. Reassure them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents.

Your children need to understand two things at this time. Mom and Dad will always love them – and will always be their parents. It is important to emphasize that no matter what changes occur over the weeks, months and years ahead, Mom and Dad will still always be their real parents and no one else will replace them. Tell them you both will always be there for them, no matter where you live or how things should change.

You can say, “No matter what happens, no matter what changes occur, one thing is for certain. Mom and Dad will always love you. That will never change. Regardless of where we live, what we do and how old you get. You can count on that. And don’t ever forget it.” Make sure you live up to that in the arrangements you will be making.

  1. Focus on change, not on blame.

Divorce is a scary word. It is wise at this time to talk to your children about change as a natural part of life. “Everything in life keeps changing. You grow bigger, stronger and smarter every year. The seasons change. You change grades and schools as you get older. Change means things will be different in some ways. It doesn’t mean things will be bad. Often change can make things better, and that’s what Mom and Dad want to do.”

Explain that it can take time for us to get used to changes, like starting a new grade with a new teacher. Other times change gives us a chance to do things in a new and better way, like trying a new sport or a hobby you grow to love.

Mention that the changes in our family are not about who’s right or wrong or who’s good or bad. “Mom and Dad both tried their best to resolve our problems. The old way didn’t work for us and now we will be trying a new way for our family to live so there’s more peace, calmness and happiness for us all. Let’s think about how we can see the changes ahead as a new adventure — a brand new chapter in our lives. It may not only be different – it may be better!”

  1. Be confident and consistent.

Children are often frightened when faced with new experiences – and divorce is a monumental challenge for them to grasp. Keep reminding your children that everything will be okay. “Mom and Dad are working on all the details so you don’t have to worry about anything because Mom and Dad have it all under control.”

This isn’t the time to go into a lot of specifics. You may not have many answers yourselves. Keep the message very generic. “We’ll have new ways of doing some things … some new responsibilities … some differences in our schedules. But life will go on. We will get used to the differences. Some of them we may even prefer. And after a while, we’ll look back and say, life is different than it used to be, but it’s all okay. Mom and Dad are okay, you’re all okay, our family is okay and we still love each other.  And that’s most important of all!”

Ideally both Mom and Dad should tell the children together and agree in advance about the messages you are conveying. If you’re having the conversation alone, you must stay neutral and not talk disrespectfully about the other parent that your children still love. Focus on your children’s feelings and reactions. Respond compassionately in the best way you can.

These core messages are the foundation your children will depend on when they are feeling frightened, sad or insecure. Repeat them often in your own words and your own style. You’ll be rewarded in countless ways as you and your children encounter and overcome the challenges of life after divorce.

*    *    *    *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! Acclaimed by divorce professionals, the book provides fill-in-the-blank templates that guide parents in creating a family storybook with personal photographs as an ideal way to break the news. For more details, a free ezine, articles, coaching and other resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

© Rosalind Sedacca  All rights reserved.

Dad’s don’t usually ask for directions

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

On Father’s Day we celebrate men who never thought they would enjoy changing diapers and hosting tea parties donning straw hats and feather boas.  They are the father’s who choose to be dads, and they wouldn’t change a thing.

When I started the Parental Wisdom® concept a number of years ago, everyone assumed we would hear from moms.  But I’m happy to tell you that a large number of questions come from fathers; some that will break your heart such as this…

I am divorced for a short while, after being separated for several years. My 16-year-old daughter is awful to me and she yells “I hate you” and even curses at me even in public. I am sure she blames me for leaving her mom, but my other two children (boys, one older and one younger) seem to be dealing with the divorce fine. My problem is that I have no control over discipline. I would never speak to anyone the way she speaks to me, let alone a parent. But since she doesn’t live with me, her mother is the disciplinarian and always with my daughter. And I don’t believe that my daughter speaks to her mother or anyone else the way she talks to me. I love my daughter, but I can’t let anyone, especially not my own child, speak to me in such a terrible way. When I can pick the kids up, she never wants to come, but the boys and I have a good time together. I don’t know what to do.

To see the answers from Parental Wisdom’s expert advisers, click here

To all moms: today, as we celebrate Father’s Day, whether you are married to children’s  father or not, please remember that he is the father of your children.  Keep the ties, teach and encourage respect, and remember each father has the right to be a dad.

p.s. Thanks to Dr. Vicki for the terrific subject line.

Anonymous
4 years: My Daddy can do anything!
7 years: My Dad knows a lot…a whole lot.
8 years: My father does not know quite everything.
12 years: Oh well, naturally Father does not know that either.
14 years: Oh, Father? He is hopelessly old-fashioned.
21 years: Oh, that man-he is out of date!
25 years: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
30 years: I must find out what Dad thinks about it.
35 years: Before we decide, we will get Dad’s idea first.
50 years: What would Dad have thought about that?
60 years: My Dad knew literally everything!
65 years: I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

Getting Divorced? What to Tell your Spouse Before You Tell the Kids!

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Ever go on a vacation without making plans in advance? The consequences are usually disastrous. If you fail to plan ahead regarding newspaper and mail delivery, feeding your pets or watering the plants, knowing where your destination is and reserving your accommodations, your vacation is likely to be filled with disappointment, frustration and even heartache.

What about preparing your children for your pending divorce? Do you have a plan – or are you going to wing it without any prior thought? For children, divorce is a monumental life experience for which they have no preparation. The very foundation of their security – their love for Mom and Dad – is being thrown into turmoil. Everything they knew and accepted as part of routine daily life is going to be affected in one way or another.  They don’t know what to expect and have little source of comfort other than their parents who are announcing the devastating news. Virga Law Firm will get a compassionate legal advocate to protect the best interests of you and your children.

How can you help your children through this process? First, sit down face to face and talk to your children’s other parent, as if their lives depended on it. Regardless of your involvement with attorneys or other legal resources, this should be a conversation between two parents who love their children and want the best outcome for them.

Agree to set aside the emotional drama of your feelings for one another at this time … the hurt, anger, resentment, jealousy, competition, frustration, regret … and focus on just one issue: How will we tell our children about the divorce?

Put yourselves in your children’s shoes.

Picture each of your children and talk to each other about how each child is likely to feel and react to the news. Put yourselves in their shoes and feel their emotions with deep compassion. You know your children. Discuss their ages and personalities. Are they likely to blame themselves … erupt in anger … beg you to stay together … want to run away and hide? Find a place of agreement and be prepared with the most comforting words and reassurances that will resonate with each child.

Remind them they are not at fault.

Many children feet responsible in some way for their parent’s relationship problems and divorce. They need reassurance, again and again, that the problem is not about them – even if you’ve been fighting about parenting issues. Assure them it’s not their behavior that caused your conflict – and there is nothing they can do to make things different. You can say something like, “Mom and Dad have been having problems. We don’t agree about certain key issues and that creates conflict. So we are going to make some changes, but none of this is your fault and never was.”

Reassure them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents.

Your children need to understand two things at this time. Mom and Dad will always love them – and will always be their parents. It is important to emphasize that no matter what changes occur over the weeks, months and years ahead, Mom and Dad will still always be their real parents and no one else will replace them. Tell them you both will always be there for them, no matter where you live or how things should change.

You can say, “No matter what happens, no matter what changes occur, one thing is for certain. Mom and Dad will always love you. That will never change. Regardless of where we live, what we do and how old you get. You can count on that. And don’t ever forget it.” Make sure you live up to that in the arrangements you will be making.

Focus on change, not on blame.

Divorce is a scary word. It is wise at this time to talk to your children about change as a natural part of life. “Everything in life keeps changing. You grow bigger, stronger and smarter every year. The seasons change. You change grades and schools as you get older. Change means things will be different in some ways. It doesn’t mean things will be bad. Often change can make things better, and that’s what Mom and Dad want to do.”

Explain that it can take time for us to get used to changes, like starting a new grade with a new teacher. Other times change gives us a chance to do things in a new and better way, like trying a new sport or a hobby you grow to love.

Mention that the changes in our family are not about who’s right or wrong or who’s good or bad. “Mom and Dad both tried their best to resolve our problems. The old way didn’t work for us and now we will be trying a new way for our family to live so there’s more peace, calmness and happiness for us all. Let’s think about how we can see the changes ahead as a new adventure — a brand new chapter in our lives. It may not only be different – it may be better!”

Be confident and consistent.

Children are often frightened when faced with new experiences – and divorce is a monumental challenge for them to grasp. Keep reminding your children that everything will be okay. “Mom and Dad are working on all the details so you don’t have to worry about anything because Mom and Dad have it all under control.”

This isn’t the time to go into a lot of specifics. You may not have many answers yourselves. Keep the message very generic. “We’ll have new ways of doing some things … some new responsibilities … some differences in our schedules. But life will go on. We will get used to the differences. Some of them we may even prefer. And after a while, we’ll look back and say, life is different than it used to be, but it’s all okay. Mom and Dad are okay, you’re all okay, our family is okay and we still love each other.  And that’s most important of all!”

Ideally both Mom and Dad should tell the children together and agree in advance about the messages you are conveying. If you’re having the conversation alone, you must stay neutral and not talk disrespectfully about the other parent that your children still love. Focus on your children’s feelings and reactions. Respond compassionately in the best way you can.

These core messages are the foundation your children will depend on when they are feeling frightened, sad or insecure. Repeat them often in your own words and your own style. You’ll be rewarded in countless ways as you and your children encounter and overcome the challenges of life after divorce.

*    *    *    *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!  Acclaimed by divorce professionals, the book provides fill-in-the-blank templates that guide parents in creating a family storybook with personal photographs as an ideal way to break the news. For more details, a free ezine, articles, coaching and other resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 

© Rosalind Sedacca 2009 All rights reserved.

5 Tips to Prevent Scarring Your Kids After Divorce!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

 By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Divorce need not wound and scar your children if you put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. Some parents don’t understand that every decision they make regarding their divorce will affect the well-being of their children in countless ways. The emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase.

Here are five keys to helping your children move through and thrive after divorce.

1)    Remind them this is not their fault.

Children tend to blame themselves for divorce, no matter how bad Mom and Dad’s relationship has been. The younger the child, the more likely this is so. Sit down together and talk to your children, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault. You can say something like: “Mom and Dad don’t agree about certain key issues and that has created conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, it does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child who we both love. Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues — but not about our love for you. You are not in any way at fault.”

2)    Focus on change — not on blame.

Divorce is all about change within the family structure. Often those changes can be beneficial and create a more peaceful environment for your children. Never burden them with adult information and judgments. Focus instead on the fact that change is an inevitable part of life and not necessarily bad. Let your children see that everything in life keeps changing. “You grow bigger every year. Seasons change, clothing styles change, your school classes change. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to changes, like when you get a new teacher or try a new sport. In time you may come to like these new changes. Let’s give it a try.”

3)    Respect your child’s other parent.

When you belittle, put down or in any way disrespect your ex – regardless how justified it may feel – it hurts your children in deep and long-lasting ways. Children innately love both their parents and feel a connection to them. When you insult their other parent it creates confusion, guilt, sadness, insecurity and low self-esteem in your children. Instead, remind them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents and will always love them. No one will replace Mom or Dad either. “We will both always love you and be there for you, no matter where we live or how things should change.” Then strive to do the right thing on their behalf.

4)    Let your children continue to be children.

While it may sometimes be tempting, never confide adult content to your children. They are not psychologically prepared to handle the emotional complexity. Save venting for trusted friends, a divorce counselor or support group.  Also never ask your children to spy, act as messengers between both parents or provide inappropriate details about the other parent’s home life. Again, this pressure’s them in many ways – none of which are positive. It is not their place to assume adult responsibilities or help you to find evidence against your ex.

5)    Make decisions through the eyes of your child.

Before making any decisions regarding divorce issues, think about the consequences for your children. Ask yourself, what will they say to me about this when they are grown adults? Will they thank me for the way I handled the divorce – or be angry and resentful about my attitude and behavior? The choices you make will affect your children for years and decades to come. For their sake, take the high road and be a role model they will want to emulate.

                                                            *    *    *    *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the 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. For more information, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 

© Rosalind Sedacca 2009 All rights reserved.

 

 

Pets Help Kids Through Divorce: 6 Reasons Why

Monday, September 7th, 2009

kids pets

Can a pet be helpful to your children during a divorce and the transition after? In my opinion, without a doubt! If your family has one or more pets, let your children have access to them as much as they desire. There is a great emotional benefit to them and your children are fortunate that the pets they love can still be in their lives.

If you don’t already have a pet, I recommend getting one – but only if you are in a position to be responsible to that innocent animal during this time of additional stress in your life. If a family pet is out of the question, please consider giving your children time to play with the pets of friends and family. Take them to petting zoos. Allow them contact with other life forms that can give them joy at a time when they are likely experiencing stress and insecurity.

In the United States alone, close to 65%, or about 71 million households have pets. Statistics from the National Pet Owners Survey say 39% of these households own at least one dog and 34% one or more cats. This should come as no surprise since pets can be a blessing in the life of any human being at any age.

Here are six key benefits a pet provides for families coping with divorce:

1. Unconditional Love: It has been proven again and again that pets are a source of support and unconditional love for children. During and after divorce, when there is so much instability and insecurity in a child’s life, a beloved pet can be the bridge to sanity. While much around them may be changing, sweet Fluffy is still there to love them and be by their side.

2. A confidant. Children like to talk to their pets. For most children pets are a trusted friend in which they can confide and share their deepest fears. This is truly a gift to children and greatly helps with emotional resiliency. Pets are nonjudgmental. They listen attentively. They “understand,” And they always love you back. Isn’t that what your children need at a time like this?

3. Security. Pets have been shown to help children better cope with challenging times within a family including divorce, illness and death. They feel less alone and abandoned. The relationship with the pet provides a deep sense of security that can’t easily be duplicated. In early childhood a stuffed animal often serves much the same purpose. But kids rarely outgrow their bond with Fluffy, even when they mature into their teens.

4. Bridge to adults. Pets can bridge the emotional and communication gap between adults and children – especially when Mom and Dad are preoccupied with so many other time-consuming details during and after a divorce. They are a valued part of the family, a source of calm as the family moves through the storm of post-divorce transition.

5. Stress Reduction. Medical studies have shown that pets are just as beneficial for adults. Walking and talking to your dog or petting your cat can actually lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, not to mention overall stress. Pets also are a great source of laughter and joy, a reminder that there are other aspects of life that are still wonderful to experience.

6. Best Friend. Pets also provide unconditional love, nurturing and comfort to adults who greatly need it as they transition through the grief of divorce. They’re a best friend when you’re alone and an appreciative ear when you want to vent or shed tears.

Connecting to other life forms is also a wonderful way to get a perspective about our place in the universe and our responsibilities toward others. When life can feel life it’s crashing in around us it is valuable to remember we share this planet with other beings who depend on us for love, sustenance and nurturing as well.

*     *     *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love. For her free articles, blog, valuable resources  on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

Mandatory Parenting Classes? Who’s Teaching?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

If Rockland County Legislator Jacques Michel, D-Spring Valley has his way, before couples can walk down the aisle they will be required to take parenting classes.

Three questions comes to my mind
1. Who’s teaching?
2. If we truly believe that every individual is unique, then we have an unlimited number of unique possiblilies. How can we possibly predict on the right way to parent considering that each person was parented differently?
3. Why assume that all people planning for marriage even want children? In a perfect world, people wouldn’t have children because it would be the next logical phase in their lives, or because they got tired of people asking them when they were planning to start a family.

The best reason to have children is because you really want children and have clearly thought through the decision.

The beginning is the most important part of any work. – Plato

But how do you think through something as unique as the experience of parenting? It begins with knowing yourself. This short list of questions may be helpful to review before you decide to have children.

10 Things to Consider Before You Have Children…

1. Would you want to have you as a parent?
2. Have there been times when you could have been more generous?
3. Do you treat the people that matter in your life as well as you should?
4. Is your relationship with your spouse strong enought to withstand the stress of children?
5. What sacrifices are you willing to make to be able to afford children?
6. What family traditions will you carry on, and what new traditions will you both create together?
7. What is your idea of quality family time?
8. How will you decide how to share family holidays?
9. Do you believe it is your job as a parent to tell a child what to think or how to think?
10. Is there something about your spouse that makes you look forward to becoming a parent, or is there something that has you concerned?

Exerpted from Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals®: Contemporary Advice for Parents by Tina Nocera

But Mommy and Daddy Still Love You!

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

referree.png

Of the thousands of oxymorons, one of my very favorites didn’t make the top 20 list. Here is the list of the top 20 as defined by Oxymoron List (link here):

1. Microsoft Works
2. Healthy Tan
3. Jumbo Shrimp
4. Work Party
5. Dodge Ram
6. Virtual Reality
7. Tax Return
8. Working vacation
9. Head Butt
10. Pretty Ugly
11. Peace Force
12. Tight Slacks
13. Plastic Glasses
14. Taped Live
15. Same Difference
16. Living Dead
17. Silent Scream
18. Personal Computer
19. Alone Together
20. Government Organization

The one I feel is missing – Amicable Divorce.

It must be the most amazing coincidence, but every time I speak with someone involved in this situation, they are the wronged party. A recent discussion began innocently enough, “How was your weekend?” I asked. The separated dad went on for an hour about how his soon-to-be ex-wife was destroying their kids’ lives, while he sat alone at home miserably knowing he could do a better job raising them.

The bottom line is that most likely, they are both destroying their kids’ lives. Enter stage left; increasingly more divorced couples are enlisting the help of professional parent coordinators to resolve parenting disputes.

Although the service can be expensive (anywhere from $50 to $350 per hour) it still makes more sense than calling a lawyer each time you squabble over the cost of sneakers or dance classes. You would be paying a lawyer, but using the new ‘parent coordinators’ may help teach a lesson in better communication along the way.

A good example is where a parent coordinator will suggest a line of communication such as email, and critique any emails that become sarcastic. The downside is that although they may be valuable, some parents may not like another person’s unsolicited input on how to raise their children, and an outsider involved in decision making.

The biggest benefit may be the parent coordinator’s ability to diffuse emotion, and let’s face it – these situations are wrought with emotion.