Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

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.

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.

Based on flimsy research

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

parenting1

When the family is in order, all the social relationships of mankind shall be in order.
– I Ching

I’ve watched shows like Dr. Phil where a seven-year-old is hitting and cursing at his parents and find myself wondering…how did it get that bad? It couldn’t have started out that way? Do we hope for parenting advice that at best is based on flimsy research?

Like a pull in a scarf, any problem left unresolved can unravel. As parents we face little problems on a daily basis. We have to pay attention and resolve the little problems before they get worse and overwhelm us.

That is where Parental Wisdom® comes in. In the past, parents lived in a sort of village, seeking advice from family and friends. Today’s families live further apart and deal with more complex societal issues. Parents turn to experts, but the idea of a one-size-fit all solution to parenting problems just doesn’t work if we really believe we are unique.

The traditional method of turning to family and friend for parenting advice presents a different set of problems:

Has that person had experience with that particular situation? After all, our moms didn’t raise us in the same media and marketing intense world.
If someone offers you advice and you don’t agree, now what?
Do you have to ‘report’ back to them?
And most importantly, as your child’s advocate, what if your child does something you simply don’t want to share? Then where do you turn?

To understand Parental Wisdom imagine a place where you could ask all your parenting questions, and where you, the real expert in knowing your child best, are given multiple opinions from trusted, credible sources so you can choose which advice works best for your unique child and situation.

Imagine that you can be anonymous and this unique service is free.

You have a good imagination.

Parental Wisdom is so unique, it’s patented.

    Once a parent, always a parent.

Questions start before the first baby arrives and continue well past grandchildren.

Here is an idea of some of the questions our nearly 100 expert advisors respond to:
My 18- year old son who is a high school graduate shows no responsibility….
I know baby’s cry a lot, but our newborn (6 day old) baby has cried through the night and all morning…
I have two boys that share a bedroom, closet, bunk beds, and toys. They are ages 7 and 8. When its time to clean their room, they begin arguing that they’ve cleaned up their mess but the rest is their brother’s mess…
My nine-year-old is having problems with our next door neighbor’s daughter. There is a lot of nasty name calling and sometimes it gets physical…
I have been divorced for almost 2 years and have joint/legal custody of my 4 ½ year-old daughter, while I am the primary parent of residence, our divorce decree states that we are to make medical, religion and school decisions together, however…
My 13- year old daughter has a boyfriend that I don’t like. I want to forbid her to see him but I’m afraid she will date him at school behind my back….
My 15-yr old daughter was caught cheating with her cell phone on a physics test…
At what age would you allow a child to have a Facebook?
I have an 8 yr. old son who was badly bullied in kindergarten and till this day, he still feels uncomfortable in school even though it is a different and much better school…

Where do you turn to find answers?

Here is a short video on Parental Wisdom. Please forward to your friends.

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How Do You Mail a Hug to Your College Kid?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

college

Living away from home for the first time presents many challenges to your college age child. They believe this is independence, but we know it is a baby step. Hopefully they’ve done their own laundry at least once.

As your college child approaches first semester finals, why not send them a long distance hug, aka healthy food snacks.

Check to see if your school has care packages ready to send or try some of these sites. Remember, they still need to hear from us even if we don’t often hear from them.

Sealed with a Kiss

From Mom.com

Hip Kits

You can only spend time

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Recently a few dads mentioned they are not spending enough time with their kids, or in other cases, they felt the time slipped past them since their children are now older.

As I noted in my book Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals® time and money have much in common, but one very clear distinction: you can make money and you can spend money, but you can only spend time – you can’t make time.

Despite what you might think, if given the choice, children would much rather spend time with you as compared to you working harder or longer hours to make money to buy them things. The best plaything in the world is you.

I point this out as Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon Professor who gave the famous Last Lecture recently passed away. The famous speech, which is now a book, was really meant for his children, but the rest of us eagerly listened in.

The world wanted to hear more from Randy, but he didn’t want to miss any time that he could spend with his children, so he collaborated via cell phone with Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall St. Journal as he rode his bike an hour a day for 53 days.

Putting myself in his shoes, I can’t imagine not being there for my children in their moments of joy and more importantly in their moments of need. But it comes down to being there, which is about the choices we make. As Randy reminded us, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

If you don’t know how to play with your kids – find someone who does effortlessly and do the same things. If you think the time has passed where you didn’t teach your son to ride a bike or throw a ball, ok, but you can still talk to your grown son and learn about him.

The key to time is making the most of what you have.

It’s Just Background Noise

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

A new study proves what we may have suspected all along; just having the TV on distracts kids. You knew that already just as you noticed your own level of concentration increases when the TV is off.

A recent study reported in the journal Child Development suggested that parents who leave the television on all day are stunting the development of their infants. It goes on to say that even when babies appeared to pay no attention to adult programs, they spent less time focused on toys compared with when the program was turned off.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two should watch no television and older children should be limited to no more than two hours a day.

”Parents should limit their young children’s exposure to background television,” said Marie Evans Schmidt, who carried out the research at the University of Massachusetts. She said TV was a potentially ”chronic environmental risk factor” affecting most children.

Many studies have indicated that excessive TV in the early years of life can stunt language skills and contribute to behavioral problems.

The message is loud and clear. Expand the same limits to all forms of media and you will have a child with time to think, dream and play.

Pee Pee Targets

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Pop quiz

Question: What do toilet training targets have to do with census data?

Answer: Everything.

We start early by giving our kids rewards for doing things they should do. We understood this sort of positive reinforcement encourages children to do the behaviors that we want them to do.

Ah! Therein lies the problem, the word behaviors. Are we raising children or seals?

Somewhere in this generation of parenting, we were told that giving children things to get them to do things was a good idea.

It is not. It is a terrible idea.

To make matters worse the concept of rewards for doing things you should do is creeping into all areas of our life.

School districts are rewarding children for grades by giving them monetary incentives. I was never in favor of giving kids money for good grades and now school districts are doing this.

I remember hosting a school clean up while PTO president as a way to have families connect with each other. A 4th grader, who had just swept the steps came over and told me, “I’m done, what do I get?” I replied, “The good feeling that comes with a job well done.” He was surprised that there wasn’t a ribbon or sticker or trophy.

Companies reward people for doing the job they are supposed to do. Isn’t a job an agreement to do certain tasks for a certain salary? If that is the case, then rewards only come into play when the job objectives are exceeded, not met.

More recently, the Census Bureau is looking at ways to increase the response rate, including the use of prizes as an incentive. The incentives can include winning an iPod, getting a Starbucks gift certificate or cash.

We have lost our minds. The reward for doing anything is intrinsic. The reward for your child getting good grades is about how he feels about working hard or even trying his best to get well deserved grades. The reward about peeing in the potty is that great feeling that comes with learning something new.

Whether the reward is stickers or candy or money please think about this. How and when will you wean them off the reward and simply get them to do the right thing?

After all, isn’t teaching our kids to do the right thing is a key objective of parenting?

Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.

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

Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
-Ancient Proverb

Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

Mud pies anyone?

What Do You Do?

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Thursday, April 24th marks the 16th annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day.

It is so much more than a career day. It demonstrates to our children why education matters, but more importantly, our children can be inspired to learn what it is they might love to do. You can only be really great at something with passion and persistence and that begins by doing what you love.

Now for the bad news. If you’re negative about your current job then I recommend you don’t pull your children out of school for the day since you’ll be doing more harm than good. Instead use this as an opportunity to think about the advice that you would give to your grade school age child so that she is not in the same position.

Here are some ideas:

Do what you love. As a young child, spend the time finding what it is that you love
Test the waters. You can’t know if it’s right until you try it. And then if you think you like something, try it again.
Talk to people (as many as you can) in the field you think is for you. Even be courageous enough to talk to people who have left the profession so you could understand why.
Think about the kind of a life you want to live. Do you want a family? Would you love (or hate) to travel? What if you had to constantly relocate? Do you want to be home for dinner every evening (if this is important to you, don’t even think about politics).

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure;
Where your treasure, there is your heart;
Where your heart, there your happiness.
-Augustine