Archive for August, 2012
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
All human beings are resistant to change. It’s especially difficult for children. One of the greatest disruptions in a child’s life can be the upheaval caused by divorce. For this reason it is incumbent on you, as a parent, to do everything possible day by day, month by month, to help your children adjust, assimilate into their new routines and accept the changes in their lives in the most positive possible ways.
To do that, you must be committed to putting your children’s physical, emotional and psychological needs foremost in your mind and heart. In that way, you will make decisions that are child-centered rather than based on your needs for getting back, proving your points or hurting your children’s other parent.
Yes, it’s not always an easy proposition to parent after divorce from this perspective. However, it’s the only option that will allow your children to have a sane childhood, good self-esteem, joy in their lives and a future that includes healthy relationships for themselves. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?
You can help your children adapt to two happy homes if you make that a priority and respect the fact that your kids are attached to their other parent. Don’t force them to break that bond or make them feel guilty for still loving their Dad or Mom, despite your divorce.
Because helping your child feel happy, safe, and loved is such an important goal for every parent, you can make joint parenting (custody is becoming a word of the past in many legal systems) arrangements work out if that is your honest intention.
To help your children feel wanted – little things count a lot!
All children need to know that they are loved and wanted in both homes. To help instill that important sense of belonging, try to avoid the need to pack a suitcase when children move between Mom and Dad’s homes.
It is smart to talk to your children early in the divorce process about starting a new chapter in their family life. Some things are changing – others will not change. It’s all part of the new chapter ahead – and new doesn’t have to mean sad or bad.
Many parents start by taking the kids shopping for some new things so they’ll have their own personal “stash” at both houses. Let each child make some personal selections of bedding, toiletry and clothing items. Little things like new pajamas, underwear, toothbrush, alarm clock, pillow, sunglasses, towels, shampoo, etc. can make a big difference in helping your children feel more at home, welcome and excited about some of the transition process.
A few new toys as well as old familiar ones are also important at this time. Selecting some DVDs or games together that are part of the new home environment will also help with readjustment, giving the kids something to look forward to when they arrive.
If your relationship with your former spouse is on a positive level, the family can get together to divide much of the children’s belongings as a family, letting the kids make some decisions about where certain items will remain or move. Try to have enough clothing changes and other routine possessions in each home, so you can avoid last-minute emergency pickups or misplaced items. Also allow the children to carry a few items back and forth if they choose, such as a favorite toy, jacket or photo.
Ideally each child should have some private space – a place in each home where they can keep their things – be it a closet, drawers, shelves, etc. The goal is to create a sense of “home” when they spend time with either Mom or Dad so they know they are safe, wanted and very much belong in the lives of both parents.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her blog, coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
It’s tough for children to adapt to between-home transitions after their parents’ split. During divorce proceedings parenting plans or contact schedules are usually established to create a semblance of routine in this new chapter of family life. I am a strong believer in co-parenting whenever possible to serve the best interest of your children. But it’s the reality of post-divorce daily life that puts everyone to the test.
Here are 4 ways to ease the process for children and parents alike.
1. Be patient with one another. Starting any new schedule in life is never easy. Chances are the between-homes transition will present a number of challenges for you as you adapt to the many responsibilities involved. At the same time, think about the challenges for your children who never signed on for this. Be especially empathic with them if they express frustration, anger and resentment at first. Also allow your children time to adjust to the “new” home after each transition. In time these changes will become just another “routine.”
2. Be prepared with all information in advance. Never argue or have disagreements over drop-off and pick-up details in front of your children. Have a calendar or other device available some you and the kids can see at a glance when transitions will occur. Create a system for creating and confirming schedule data — and use it. Know the answers before leaving home. Keep drop offs quick, simple and pleasant for the kids. Create a brief goodbye routine and send them on their way with a hug and a smile. If there are issues to discuss, talk to your ex when you’re both alone at another time.
3. Be pleasant and positive. Some children feel guilty about staying at the other parent’s house. They fear you’ll feel lonely or abandoned. It’s important to give your children permission to enjoy themselves and their time with Dad or Mom. Tell them you have much to do and will appreciate some “alone” time. Remind them you will also miss them and look forward to their return. In advance, talk to them about the fun they will have and how much their other parent wants to see them, as well. Let them know both Mom and Dad love them and deserve time with them. Never say disrespectful things about your ex before the visit or ask them to spy on your behalf. Let your children enjoy just being kids!
4. Be cooperative, flexible and understanding. Allow your children to feel free to contact their other parent — and let that parent contact them when necessary. Never create the feeling that their Mom or Dad is the enemy who can’t invade on YOUR time with the kids. Be respectful when you do check in with them – and allow the same courtesy to your ex. That is what co-parenting is all about. Sometimes plans change. Bend over backwards to accommodate your ex and more than likely they will do the same for you. This models behavior you want your children to learn anyway. Why not take the high road and be the parent you want your children to admire and emulate?
If you keep these points in mind, you will be on your way to creating and living the child-centered divorce you want for your children. You have the power to make one of the most challenging post-divorce realities – sharing time with your children – a smooth and pleasant reality. You will all benefit from the effort you make to do it right from the very beginning. So why choose any other plan?
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, coaching services and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
We all get angry when we believe we are being wronged, misunderstood or unjustly accused. It’s a natural reaction to circumstances that put us on the defensive. But when we cannot identify or manage our anger, it can take over our lives and affect the well-being of those close to us. When our anger is focused on our relationship partners or a divorcing spouse, it can reach dangerous levels for everyone involved.
Anger is a feeling that alerts us that something is wrong. What we fail to understand is that we, as human beings, always have choices regarding how we act regarding those feelings. Acting before thinking can lead to mismanaged anger. Once we have reacted to anger, we have allowed our feelings to control us. This can lead to actions and behaviors we never would have taken if we were making rational choices. Knowing how to manage anger can help us set limits and determine comfortable boundaries in our relationships – including co-parenting after a divorce.
While anger is a natural emotion, when faced with a challenging situation, it can also create the most destructive consequences. Improperly expressed anger can produce difficulties with family, friends, co-workers and colleagues. Left uncontrolled, it often results in encounters with law enforcement and the judicial system.
If managing anger has been a challenge, it is important to recognize signs to watch out for in our behavior and identify “red flag” warnings in advance before we explode out of control. With intention and practice, we can learn healthier ways of expressing anger, frustration and other difficult feelings which will make for more peaceful and rewarding life experiences.
Identifying Anger Problems:
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves which will identify whether we have an anger management problem:
- Do I lose my temper easily and quickly? Do small things set me off such as getting stuck in traffic, children running around the house or spilling my coffee? Do I have a low tolerance for frustration? Is it difficult for me to take things in stride?
- Do I show inconsistent behavior that is intimidating to others? Is my behavior so unpredictable that one minute I’m feeling good — and the next I become explosive?
- Are family and friends afraid of me? Do they often tell me to calm down? Do people say they “walk on egg shells” around me? Do they avoid giving me bad news for fear of my reaction?
- Have I hurt people close to me because of my anger? Have I lost friends, family or even my job as a consequence of my outbursts? Do people distance themselves from being close to me?
- Have I tried to control my anger, but failed? Am I unable to control how I react to things, even though I have tried several different approaches?
- Do I find myself explaining or justifying my aggressive behavior to others? Do I usually blame others for enticing or provoking me to anger?
- Is it difficult to express myself without cursing, swearing and blaming? Is my communication with others often offensive and vulgar? Am I defensive and usually believe the problem “isn’t me — it’s them”?
- Does anger cause me to become destructive? Do I frequently break things or become violent towards others? Do I pound on the table, punch a door or throw things to make a point? Have I hit, bit, pushed or forcibly held my partner because of my rage?
- Does my anger spiral out of control? Once I get angry, is it difficult for me to de-escalate? Does it seem to take over and take a while before I am able to settle down?
- Do I have difficulties with authority figures? Do I dislike people telling me what to do and often get into confrontations? Do I purposefully refuse to complete assignments or follow directions, as a sign of rebellion?
- Do I frequently argue at home? Is it difficult for me to have a conversation without getting angry? Do I get upset when others disagree with me? Do I believe others have the power to make me feel stupid or inadequate?
- Is my body language intense? Do I communicate with clenched fists, a tightened jaw and a glaring stare?
These are all signs of anger management issues that need to be addressed. Fortunately there are tools, skills and strategies we can use to change our state of mind, perceive circumstances differently, catch ourselves before our anger explodes, harness our anger in more productive directions and create more inner peace in our lives. Learning these skills will not only make our life more satisfying, it will improve our relationships with everyone in our world, bringing us more credibility and respect from others.
Controlling our anger will transform life for the better – and give us the tools to respond more effectively to challenging situations, especially in our personal relationships. We can still get our needs met, but without the struggle, turmoil and negative consequences.
Anger Management courses are available in many communities, as well as online. An internet search using the terms Anger Management and your city should deliver numerous results. Making the investment in ourselves will reap rewards that will pay off for a lifetime!
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Rosalind Sedacca and Amy Sherman, LMHC, are co-authors of an 8-hour and 12-hour online Anger Management Course focused on divorce and relationship issues. The content includes insights, advice, strategies, questions, videos, quizzes and more, all designed to help men or women create better alternatives in their lives. The courses are also approved for court-mandated Anger Management programs in many counties throughout the United States. Visit: www.onlineparentingprograms.com to learn more.