Archive for the ‘Family’ 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 divorce lawyers 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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

The Promise of a New School Year

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Each new school brings brand new sneakers, book bags and promise. Children start the school year with an A+; they have to keep it. Parents can help in a number of ways.

1. Plan ahead to reduce family stress
Whether it is the weekly meal menu, healthy lunch boxes, or having the school wardrobe ready, it’s always better to plan ahead. Include your children in the planning whenever possible. Rushing through the start of a day can easily spiral out of control.

2. Everything in it’s place
Keys, school papers, book bags, sports equipment, and musical instruments should all have a specific place in the house. Though parents can create the organization, kids need to maintain it. To help kids learn organization, consider purchasing Get Organized Without Losing It written for late elementary through middle grade. It has lots of kid-friendly humor and is written by Parental Wisdom advisor Janet Fox.

3. Set your children up for success
Studies continually show that children that each a good breakfast with lots of protein can concentrate better in school. Get them up a little earlier to start the day right.

4. Provide a study spot
a. Have school supplies in a place that is quiet and free from distractions.
b. Teach them about budgeting their time so projects are ready, not rushed.
c. Review (not do) their homework so you know what is going on at school.
d. Make sure you dig deep into book bags so you can read all school notes.

5. Don’t wait for a red flag or a bad report card before recognizing a struggling student. Contact the teacher before your child gets too far behind.

6. Encourage safety
a. If your child walks to school, make sure he knows how to obey traffic rules.
b. If she rides a bike, be sure she wears a helmet.
c. If he rides the bus, make sure the school district has installed seat belts.
d. Children can only learn if they feel safe. If your child is being bullied, discuss the situation with school officials and insist school programs that teach tolerance and inclusion such as Operation Respect. They offer free programs to schools.

7. Don’t let over-scheduling take away your precious family time. Limit the number of activities you allow your child to participate in.

8. Have dinner together every night. Use this a way for your family to stay connected and to let your children know they belong. Read more about Family Day, which is September 22nd. Pay attention to which subjects and teachers your child talks about. Often those are the teachers that have the most profound impact on your child. Write the teacher a note to let them know their influence.

9. Create an environment for lifelong learning, and teach your children that lessons can easily extend beyond the classroom. Extracurricular and family activities are good ways to help your child learn new things and gain confidence in his or her abilities.

10. Stay involved in your child’s school and participate especially when opportunities arise to meet your child’s classmates such as book fairs or school trips.

11. Keep in touch with your children’s teachers and let them know of any situation that may affect your child in school such as a family illness, recent move, job loss or divorce.

12. When your children challenge your family rules, as compared to their friends’ houses, such as no TV during the week, explain clearly but firmly that things are done differently in your house.

13. Routines are important to children as it helps them feel secure. Consistency is key when it come to bath time, reading and bedtime.

14. Remember you are preparing our next workforce generation. Be sure to instill the importance of showing up and not let your children stay home from school unless it’s absolutely necessary. In the same respect, make sure they understand that being on time is equally important.

15. Make learning real. Show how school skills are needed for such day-to-day activities as cooking from a recipe, balancing a checkbook and writing thank-you notes.

There’s a reason for everything

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

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An outbreak of the flu is hardly good news, but there is a reason for everything. We find that we can clear our schedules, slow down and cuddle up. Why do we need to wait for the flu or a snowstorm to do something that makes so much sense?

Our generation of parents is so involved in our children’s lives that we have taken on the role of ‘Julie the Cruise Director.’

Let’s take a look at where that has gotten us:

• When they are very little, we register for mommy & me gym classes. Reality check, you can do that at home for no cost at all. Mommy, are you the one that needs the play date here?
• When they are toddlers, we’re registering them for soccer and pee-wee tee ball camps. Reality check again, this costs money and more importantly children actually get less time to play than if the parents played with their kids at the park or in the backyard. Also, the kids aren’t learning how to form their own teams.
• In grade school, we add music and tutoring to the sports schedule which leaves no time for play or family. The mini-van is well stocked with food and beverages as we have no time for dinner. And, by the way, no time for conversation since the mini-van has DVD’s playing in the head rests.
• We check our calendars to find free time for play dates that we’ve selected.
• High school comes around and by this time the kids are burned out by the politics of sports so they’ve stopped playing. Since they never started a game on their own, they don’t know how. Technology has taken the place of making real friends, again something they’ve never had to do.

Back to today’s lesson. Parents – do less and you’ll do more.

Too Many Toys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

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The KISS principle (which stands for Keep It Simple, stupid) relates to just about every area of our life. Not surprisingly it begins when our children are little.

Visit the home of any family with little kids and you see toys, toys, and more toys. The overabundance of toys makes each toy less special, less noticed and less valued. I have often found that putting toys away for a while and rotating them offered a better chance for the kids to appreciate them more.

But, as often happens the problem that many of us experienced, was resolved a mom.

Lori Pope launched Baby Plays, a web-based company that rents toys, think of it as a Netflix for toys.

Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. Families willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.

Baby Plays’ inventory includes popular toys by brands such as VTech, LeapFrog and Playskool as well as more obscure European manufacturers. Pope keeps at least seven of each kind of toy in stock so she can fulfill almost every request. She plans to double her inventory over the next two months.

Pope mainly stocks sturdy, easy-to-clean toys with few parts or parts that are easily replaced. She searches Web sites and catalogs for popular toys that are appropriate for small children and meet all European and American safety standards.

Check out this website for more great options on toys for your kids. Guess the kids would really look forward to a visit from the UPS driver!

Connecting the dots – obesity, behavior and the media

Friday, January 25th, 2008

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As I read my daily papers, The Wall St. Journal and USA Today, I cut articles that might be of interest to Parental Wisdom members. There is a pattern emerging where experts are trying to figure out what is going wrong with kids today. Three recent articles shed some light are where they are headed:

• In the January 14th edition of USA Today an article entitled ‘A lifetime of danger in childhood obesity’ paints a bleak picture of the medical issues that could result in overweight children and then explain how parents can create a healthful environment.

• USA Today on January 15th tells us of a ‘new direction’ on the part of PBS to create an online subscription based education website aimed at 3 to 6 year-olds.

• The January 17th edition of the Wall St. Journal asks ‘what’s gotten into kids these days’ and wonders why three-year-olds are being expelled at such an alarming rate.

Finally during a Parental Wisdom tele-seminar held this week on peaceful parenting, a caller asked what she could do to calm down her five-year-old at school because the teacher said he wasn’t sitting still. The teacher suggested the mom consider signing the boy up for a soccer team. The mom is already stressed about just returning to work and trying to keep it all together. Just what she needs, another to-do added to her already over-scheduled to-do list.

The solution to these seemingly unrelated problems is easy. Lighten up and let kids play. I mean real play, not online play, or signing them up with teams at such a young age they spend more time in the field picking their noses rather than listening to yet another round of instructions from adults running their lives. Involve them in your lives and the work that you need to do. Relationship building isn’t forced.
• Talk to your children when food shopping about healthy choices
• Have dinner together every night (or as often as possible) and talk about your day
• Give children chores such as setting or clearing the table
• Shoot baskets – no team shirts needed

Behavior problems will disappear, healthy living and family fun will be a way of life.

Is it this easy? Try it and prove me wrong. I would love to hear back from you.

Start the New Year appreciating what you have

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

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The New Year gives us a gift – a new way of looking at things.

The stores that just weeks ago were overflowing with merchandise, are now clear of anything red or green, and now offer ways to better organize and clean.

More than anything, the New Year gives us a new outlook; some people set goals and objectives, others believe it is a waste of time. What we all should do is take a moment to think about all that we have and what we can be grateful for.

• The people in our lives
• Good health
• Opportunity
• Another year to build memories

Happy New Year, and wishing you a healthy, happy and memorable 2008!

The front porch in communities

Friday, December 14th, 2007

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In the book, Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors the authors Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world.

They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected. These feelings often impede their ability to move forward. The authors aim to help empower people make the daunting transition from victims to victors. Come On, People! is always engaging, and loaded with heart-piercing stories of the problems facing many communities.

The issues the authors bring to light in this book are not exaggerated. But the problems to a much lesser degree are not limited to this community. Children simply exist and do not reach their potential in even the most affluent communities. The deciding factor seems of how successful a child turns out seems to revolve around how much the family and community care about the child. By success, I don’t mean to limit the discussion to grades or future earnings, but contentment and self-esteem to believe they can do anything they set their minds to.

If we want to improve the success of today’s youth we can take the approach of bringing back front porches; literally and figuratively. It’s a metaphor for people to watch out for their community and to know that each of us is known and accountable for our actions.

It does take a village to raise a child.

Defining your Family Culture

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

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Here all mankind is equal: rich and poor alike. They love their children.

-Euripides

When you were growing up, there were different kinds of families. Did you ever wonder how they got that way? Somebody defined them.

Now, you are the grown up and you get to set the stage. Think of your home as your castle, where members of the family feel loved, safe, and unafraid of making mistakes. When family members do something that is not acceptable, they will know that at home they are loved, but that the negative behavior needs to change as it compromises the home environment and everyone in it.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to create a family culture, which defines your family as something unique.

Creating a Family Culture

Define your family. Even create a mission statement. Example: “Our home is a safe haven where family members are loved unconditionally and encouraged to pursue their own passion.”
• Have one message. Despite different parenting styles; have a single voice.
• Treat your family as you would company. Why wait to put out the good dishes and fancy tablecloth?
• Establish meaningful and even silly traditions. When they grow up, children will remember that snow days always meant hot chocolate.
• Have fun. Did you ever notice kids don’t have to be told to dance on the bubble wrap?
• Enjoy every stage of parenting. If you’re rushing through one stage, what makes you think that you’ll enjoy the next?

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