Archive for April, 2012
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Custody issues are a huge challenge in every divorce involving children. I am a strong advocate of co-parenting whenever possible. However, because every situation is different when it comes to divorce, I certainly don’t believe legislation should determine custody outcomes for any family. These are issues that caring, conscious parents should be deciding together with only one goal in mind – the very best interest of their children.
Unfortunately, too many parents approach this sensitive subject as adversaries. When child custody becomes a battle, everyone loses. Parents are pitted against each other and innocent children inevitably pay the price.
When custodial decisions move into contention, creating a scenario where lawyers, legislation and courts determine the direction of your children’s future, you not only lose power in your life, you lose harmony within your already fragile family structure.
There is another way. When you create a child-centered divorce, your children win – on every level. Parents who make a concerted effort to sit down with each other before bringing in legal representation can save themselves from hours of aggravation and legal fees. These parents discuss the future well-being of their kids together, keeping their perspective where it really belongs – on the children. To do this, they must take into account and ask themselves some very serious questions:
- What’s best for our children today, tomorrow and in the years to come?
- How can we minimize the physical, emotional and spiritual damage inflicted upon our children as a result of our pending divorce?
- How can we best support our children through this difficult time?
- How can we show your love and compassion for them as they move through challenges they did not ask for — or create?
- What can we do to boost their sense of security, self-esteem and well-being during the transitions ahead?
- Who can provide the least traumatic home environment for the children – and for what percent of each day, week, month and year?
- How can each of us best contribute our assets – physical, emotional and spiritual – to create harmony, good will and peace within the changed family structure?
- How will our children look back at this divorce a year, five years, ten years and more from now? Will they understand?
- How can we make life better for our children after the divorce than it was before?
The answers to these questions are not simple, nor are they black and white. They require honest communication between two mature adults who have their children’s best interest at heart. And yes, it may likely take more than the two of you to come to resolution on all the child-custody details. That’s where you can enlist the aid of professionals — mediators, therapists, counselors, life coaches and clergy. These experienced and knowledgeable experts will approach your divorce from a child-focused perspective. They have the tools and insight to help you reach agreement on issues that will affect the total well-being of your children in the least-derisive manner.
As tough as this process may appear, wouldn’t you prefer to make these decisions together, before you approach the court – and lawyers, rather than having them made for you?
When parents let the negative emotions they’re feeling toward their spouses – hatred, hurt, disappointment, guilt, shame, anxiety, frustration, mistrust and more – influence their decisions about child-custody issues, they are sabotaging their children. It is selfish, insensitive and extremely unproductive to let your personal vendetta determine the relationship your children have with their other parent. You are allowing personal satisfaction to get in the way of your parental responsibilities toward your kids. And the cost – to them as well as to you – will be high. (Many children, as they grow, come to resent a parent who keeps them from having a positive relationship with their other parent, leading to alienation and other negative outcomes.)
Upcoming posts here will address some of the questions loving parents need to address in creating a child-centered divorce as well as the consequences when parents put their own needs before those of their children. I value your comments and suggestions as we explore this important topic for families touched by separation or divorce.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! The book helps parents create a unique personal family storybook that guides you through this difficult transition with optimum results. To learn more visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
Откъде да купя иконаBy Guest Blogger Karen McMahon
We each have fears as we go through the divorce process. Our fears are often based in the unknown. Everything is so uncertain, it is impossible to see around the bend to know what your life is going to look like when you emerge on the other side. So our minds begin to ‘figure it out’. The way we do this is to go to the ‘what if’s’. What if I don’t have enough money? What if I cannot hold down a job and take care of my kids? What if I don’t get to see my kids? What if the kids like my ex’s new partner more than me? What if I am unable to afford decent housing? What if…. The fear can be overwhelming!
When I went through my divorce, I was in sales and had lost three quarters of my clients in one year. I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to move into a home and support my children and a household on my own. I was also afraid that the courts might give primary custody to my kid’s dad. Then there was the fear that even if I could afford a place and have my children, I would never be able to juggle it all. I was so overwhelmed with my fears that I couldn’t think straight. It made each decision I had to make all the more monumental and left me frozen and fearful of destroying my future with each possible wrong decision.The truth is, our worst fears are often unfounded. I often hear people say that they are going to be left homeless penniless and unable to support their families. When we dig below the surface, many of our fears are extreme exaggerations of the worst case scenario. Often times the worst case scenario is not what you are faced with and even if you are, your fears of what that looks like are completely distorted.
How does it serve you to consider the worst case scenario and then exaggerate it to the tenth power?
I would dare to say, not only doesn’t it benefit you; it has quite the opposite effect. You are left paralyzed by fear; not the fear of the unknown, but rather the fear of the unrealistically exaggerated worst case scenario. So how do you begin to turn this around?
It makes sense that you are concerned and unsure of the future. What you do with that concern is the key:
- Acknowledge your fears
- List the possible outcomes — Make sure to list both the positive and negative possibilities
- For each ask yourself,
- How true is it?
- What is another possibility?
- How might I avoid that or How might I insure that possibility?
- What would I have to do to make that a reality?
- Do all that you can to prepare and then trust, hope, take a leap of faith that all will be okay.
We cannot know what tomorrow holds but we can prepare for it as best possible. After that we are left with the option to trust, believe and have faith in the outcome; to hope for the best. The other option is to white-knuckle it with every expectation that our future will be doom and gloom. If you believe that energy attracts like energy, which approach will be more beneficial…fear or faith?
Karen McMahon, Certified Divorce Coach & Master Energy Practitioner, is the founder of KM Life Coaching and co-author of “Navigating Your Divorce: A guide to the Legal, Financial and Emotional Basics,”a free ebook. Karen’s passion is to work with men and women going through the divorce process, helping them navigate the difficulties while focusing on personal growth and embracing the opportunities that lie ahead.
We all know divorce creates havoc in any family’s life, especially when children are involved. Moving on after divorce can also be challenging. It’s a time to be very gentle, both with yourself as well as with your children.
Chances are, you made a considerable emotional investment in your marriage. Having seen that relationship fail can make you insecure about facing new relationships ahead. But if you take the time to go within, learn from your mistakes, understand the lessons from your marriage and determine new ways to approach future relationships, at some point you will feel ready to step back out into the dating world again. Then you face the challenge of breaking the news to your children.
Be Sensitive and Empathic!
Of course the age of your children will play a big part in how to talk to them about your starting to date. The rapport you have with them and closeness within your own relationship with the kids will also play a part in this difficult conversation.
Remember, your children are smarter than you think. They can pick up on your energy when you’re telling untruths. It’s best to be honest about your feelings regarding bringing another potential partner into your life. But be very sensitive about their emotions on this topic.
Let your children know you’re healing, feeling better about yourself and are now ready to explore meeting new friends. Remind them how much you love them, how important they are in your life, and that dating has nothing to do with replacing them – ever! Explain that you will still be the attentive parent you’ve always been and that they always come first in your life. Be very clear that no one will ever replace their other parent either!
You may need to have this conversation many times over several weeks or months to give your kids time to digest the concept and express how they feel about what you are saying. Encourage them to ask questions and share their opinions. Be patient and understanding of their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
Be Selective in Choosing Partners!
Don’t introduce your children to every new person you date. You can let them know that you are going out with friends every once in a while, if they ask, but don’t bring causal relationship partners into their world. This can be confusing for children and disappointing for them if the new partner they meet disappears or gets replaced a few weeks or months later.
When you do find a person you are seriously involved with, prepare the children in advance for the first meetings. Spend short intervals together and let the exposure build over time. Ask the kids for their feedback. Discuss their feelings. Watch how your partner behaves with them. Make sure the kids never feel threatened by the thought they are losing their Mom or Dad to a stranger. How you approach adding a new partner into your life will affect their long-term relationship with the children. So be careful, considerate and empathic in all your actions. Needless to say, make sure you choose a partner who treats your children well.
Children who have close relationships with both biological parents are more likely to accept a new parent partner into their lives without distress. Because they feel safe in their relationship with Mom and Dad, they are less likely to be threatened by a new adult entering the picture. When one biological parent disrespects and disparages the other parent, it puts the children on the defensive, making them much more likely to reject a new relationship partner entering the family dynamic.
So take your time when transitioning into dating after divorce. Move slowly when opening the door to new relationships that will be affecting your children. Putting yourself in their place will give you insight into what it can be like to find Mom or Dad with a new partner. Talking with a therapist or relationship coach can be quite helpful as you transition into this next phase of your life.
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Rosalind Sedacca is a Divorce Coach and author of the internationally acclaimed guidebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! It can be found at http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. Her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources for parents are all available at http://www.childcentereddivorce.com. Rosalind’s advice on dating after divorce and free dating tip sheet are at: www.womendatingafter40.com.
All Rights Reserved Rosalind Sedacca