Tuesday, 20 August 2019

11 successful co-parenting commandments


As the song goes, “breaking up is hard to do”—but you can make it easier on your kids. Here’s how to rock at co-parenting.



1. Collaborate, don’t litigate

Acrimony is expensive financially (a divorce trial, on average, costs each party $13,000, but that figure can go up to $100,000 or more) but also emotionally, particularly for your children. According to a 2009 report for the Ottawa-based Vanier Institute of the Family, kids who’ve lived through an ugly split are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues, and are more likely to drop out of school. Court-imposed outcomes also tend to be more short-lived than amicable settlements and can actually increase conflict in the long-term. “When you go to court, the winner goes yahoo, and the loser goes boo hoo,” says Gary Direnfeld, Dundas, Ont., social worker who specializes in family mediation and counselling. That means the “losing” parent will be less likely to follow the court order and will try to undermine the other parent in hopes of having it overturned. More collaborative processes force co-parents to achieve a mutually agreeable settlement. “Though you might have to plug your nose a bit,” says Direnfeld, “you’re likely to have a more durable agreement.”

2. Be respectful and “professional”

“Treat your co-parent as a colleague,” says Cameron Shouldice, a collaborative lawyer in Toronto. Would you blow off an appointment with a co-worker? No way. But Deborah Moskovitch, author of The Smart Divorce, remembers rushing home to meet her children, only to have her ex show up an hour late. “That escalates the tension,” she says.


3. Create a parenting plan

Sit down with your co-parent (and, if necessary, a third party, such as a mediator or parenting coordinator) to set out the rules and routines of your child-rearing partnership. The more acrimonious the divorce, the more detailed your plan should be, says Moskovitch, whose own high-conflict split dragged on for seven years. How will you share birthdays and holidays? Where and when will you pick up the kids on transition days? How long will you wait before introducing a new significant other? Is it OK to post pictures of your child on Facebook? Revisit the plan every couple of years to ensure it’s still relevant, given your child’s age.


4. Remember that “fair” doesn’t always mean “equal”

In the aftermath of a split, many parents get caught up in the notion that “fair” means sharing access 50/50. “But what makes sense for the child might not look like that,” says Nancy Cameron, a family lawyer and parenting co-ordinator in Vancouver. If Mom travels often for work, it might make sense for the kids to spend more time with Dad. If your ex has always taken your child to hockey practice, try working that into the schedule—even if it means giving up some of “your” weekend. And get your kids’ input before making any decisions. “They don’t want to be in control, but they do want what’s important to them to be taken into consideration,” says Cameron.


5. Communicate effectively, part 1

“Generally, ineffective communication is one of the primary causes of the break-up in the first place,” says Shouldice. That doesn’t magically change because you’re no longer a couple. Attend a short-term seminar (check with your local social services agencies, such as Toronto’s Families in Transition, the BC Council for Families and the Alberta Courts), or hire a coach/therapist to ensure that what you’re communicating to your co-parent is being received in the manner you intended. “This stuff is way more of an important investment than trying to outfit the second bedroom to help the kid transition to two new houses,” says Shouldice.


6. Communicate effectively, part 2

Electronic communication allows co-parents to discuss schedules and air grievances without having to pick up the phone, chat in person, or stress your child out by turning them into a messenger. “But it’s so easy in an email to start a war,” cautions Moskovitch. A few rules: Take time to cool off, and to objectively consider your words and tone, before hitting send. Only deal with one issue per email. And respond to your co-parent’s missives within 24 hours (or set specific guidelines depending on the urgency of the situation).


7. Never dis your co-parent in front of the kids

This one can be tough, but if you’ve got a beef, deal with it when you’re sure little ears can’t hear. “Kids are terribly conflicted if they feel they have to align with one parent or the other,” says Cameron.


8. Schedule parenting “dates”


Clear your schedule monthly to talk to your co-parent about your children’s progress. If possible, have regular family meetings with the kids to discuss school, activities and whether the schedule is working.


9. Let it go, let it go…

You might have a few immutable rules in your house: a strict 8 p.m. bedtime, no fast food, one hour of screen time per day. Your ex, conversely, might take the kids to McDonald’s and let them stay up late watching movies. You can’t expect your co-parent to enforce the same rules you do, so try to let it go. But do sit down together and identify critical values—say, religious observance or a ban on TV violence—you both agree on.


10. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Empower your child to take their belongings to your ex’s place—yes, even that expensive new toy. “If it doesn’t come back, that’s OK,” says Shouldice. “It’s the kids’ stuff, and it belongs in both households. That gives them a sense of security.”


11. Get on the same page

To help keep track of pickups, appointments and school events, Direnfeld recommends using a Web-based program like Our Family Wizard, which was designed specifically for co-parents. Or keep it simple with Google Calendar. It also helps to have both parents on the school or daycare email list.

Source: http://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/11-successful-co-parenting-commandments/

Monday, 19 August 2019

Developing Co-Parenting Plans

The organisation of cooperative parenting schedules.

A co-parenting plan is a written document that outlines how parents will raise their children after separation or divorce. Developed with the best interests of children in mind, a co-parenting plan details how much time children will spend time with each parent, scheduling details, how major and minor decisions about children will be made, exchanges of information and ongoing communicate about the children, children’s extra-curricular activities, and how parental disputes will be resolved. A written plan will help all family members to know what is expected of them and will be a valuable reference as time passes and family circumstances change.
There are numerous formats and templates for developing a co-parenting plan, but the key to successful co-parenting is to focus on the needs of the children, particularly their need to maintain routine relationships with each parent and to be shielded from ongoing parental conflict. There is no one “best” co-parenting plan that families should adopt and follow, as much depends on the unique circumstances and specific needs of family members. Some of the key issues that have to be addressed when putting together a parenting plan include the ages of the children and their developmental needs, the children’s school schedules and extracurricular activities, the parents’ work schedules, scheduling for holidays and summer vacations, the distance of the parents’ homes from each other, and any special needs of the children (such as disabilities or health concerns). Most often, it is best for a parenting plan to be as specific as possible. For example, with both routine weekly/monthly schedules, as well as specific holiday schedules, the exact times for pickup and return of the children, as well as where the exchange will take place (at a parent’s home or in a neutral location, for instance), need to be spelled out in detail. Of course, if parents are able to accommodate each other comfortably, they may not need to follow the parenting plan to the letter, but in the majority of cases, where there is some degree of friction, specificity is important.
In my own practice, I focus parent on five main dimensions of co-parenting, three time dimensions and two aspects of decision-making.  These will constitute the heart of the final parenting plan. Time dimensions include (1) overnight stays (how many will there be with each parent?); (2) routine time (the actual time the child and parent spend together in the daily routines of caretaking and parenting); and (3) activity time (time spent together in recreational and special activities). Difficulties are likely to arise if one parent has little activity time but the main responsibility for routine time, or vice-versa, or if all overnights are with only one parent.  It is also important to separate out the school year, holidays, and special days and observances for each of these time dimensions. Parental decision-making includes (1) daily decisions made in the course of daily child-rearing; and (2) major decisions (including schooling, religious affiliation and training, and major medical decisions). Again, a plan in which one parent has power to make major decisions without any responsibility for day-to-day decisions can be highly problematic.
How best to begin the process of formulating a co-parenting plan? One possibility is for each of the parents to draft a proposal with respect to the five dimensions of post-divorce parenting, and then come together to compare the lists and begin to negotiate. Another option is to have each parent work through a time survey—for example, outlining what a typical week would look like when the child is living with them, and then come together in mediation to compare their lists.  This kind of exercise helps parents consider what will be involved in parenting as separate entities, think about their strengths and deficiencies as caretakers, and identify the skills they will need to be able to carry through their co-parenting plan.
While parenting plans take many forms, it is important to include the following five clauses in the written agreement:
(1) A general statement to begin the agreement: The parents will cooperatively share the parenting of the children, with co-parenting defined as having two core elements:  shared responsibility for important decision-making as well as the daily routine parenting of the children, and parental cooperation with respect to same.  This includes respect for one another's parenting style and authority; that is, parents agree to say or do nothing that will harm the relationship of the other parent with their children.  A helpful clause to include in this section is, "The parents agree to foster love and affection between their children and the other parent."
(2) Sharing of parental responsibilities: The parents agree to confer on all important matters affecting the welfare of the children, including education, health, and religious upbringing.  They agree that each will have access to medical and school records. There should also be a clause saying that day-to-day decisions are the responsibility of the parent with whom the child is living.
(3) The specifics of the actual time-sharing and residential arrangement: This includes overnight stays, routine time, and activity time.
(4) Details regarding holidays and special days and observances: This includes overnight stays, routine time, and activity time.
(5) The agreement time period, and amendments to the agreement: End with a clause indicating the length of the agreement, and that the plan will be reexamined at a later fixed time, or from time to time.  If no revisions are deemed necessary after the agreed time period, the agreement is automatically renewable.  A clause specifying the manner in which parents will settle disputed issues in the future, with an emphasis on cooperation and a return to mediation if necessary, is also essential.
Explicit guidelines for co- parenting can be developed at the time the co-parenting plan is drafted.  These may include: respect the other's parenting rules; avoid criticizing the other parent, directly or indirectly;  avoid placing a child in the middle of an argument or using a child as a messenger;  stick to the time-sharing schedule and keep promises, but also be flexible in a way that meets the children's and the other parent's needs (try to accommodate the other parent's request for changes, but the other parent should remember that even small changes to the schedule that occur with little forewarning can cause major problems);  make transitions as comfortable as possible for the child (be positive about the child's stay with the other parent;  be courteous with the other parent;  once the child settles back in, let her talk freely about the other parent or the other home);  and respect each other's privacy (keep contacts and communications restricted to set times, and to child-related matters).
While the co-parenting plan should usually be highly structured at the beginning, over time, flexibility, creativity, and compromise should be encouraged.  Changes to the plan over time are inevitable; parenting arrangements will require reevaluation and change over time, based on children's changing developmental needs and the parents' own changing circumstances.
Contingency planning sets the stage for needed future changes.  Potential obstacles and areas of conflict regarding parenting can be anticipated; issues such as changing job demands, relocation, and how to deal with children's changing developmental needs need to be discussed.  Remarriage or cohabitation and stepfamily formation may affect co-parenting in a significant way, as the problem of mistrust often reemerges when new members join the family
Once a co-parenting plan has been negotiated and drafted, it should be implemented for a specified trial period, anywhere between 6-12 months.  At the end of the trial period, the plan is reviewed and made permanent, modified, or abandoned.  It is important to know that the plan you initially negotiate is not irrevocable.
Establishing a routine and an environment conducive to children's adaptation to the new co-parenting arrangement are critical tasks for both parents.  Children are generally anxious to know the specifics of their new routine, and the predictability of a clear schedule facilitates adaptation.  They also prefer to develop a sense of "belonging" in both of  their parents’ homes, and will adapt more easily if they have a place of their own in each house, which they have helped in creating.  Other important considerations include deciding on children's items that need to be duplicated (toothbrushes, nightclothes, school supplies, diapers and baby supplies for infants), those that are divided between the two homes (shoes and clothing apportioned in measure with how much time is spent in each residence, toys, books), and those that will go back and forth between the two homes (cherished toys,  bicycles, musical instruments).


Friday, 16 August 2019

10 Empowering Tips For Re-Entering The Workforce After Divorce

What distinguishes a divorced mom from any other applicant as she re-enters the workforce is that she is either in the midst of crisis or in the wake of a crisis. In the quest to find a job or clients and customers for herself, she will compete with people who are feeling settled and happy or, perhaps, wide-eyed 20-somethings newly out of college and grad school. She will compete against women who do not have the responsibilities of caring for children. She will compete against men.



In terms of preparing myself as I joined the ranks of competitors in the depths of the recession, I read many articles that dealt with resumes, cover letters, and interviews. And these were full of suggestions not without value. I would recommend reading all you can. However, I got most bogged down in the part that involved me, as an individual, reimagining my future as my world completely dissolved.

This step of envisioning where you want to go and who you want to be, takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength that is lost on those who are not in the wake of, emotional trauma.

To find that internal footing from which to launch yourself, try the following 10 tips to boost your sense of empowerment when re-entering the workforce after divorce:


1. Be “unrealistic!”: 

As your new life unfolds, there may be numerous opportunities to crashland in "reality." However, I would say to try to allow for opening up wide to the potential of your future as you explore your options. Do your best to prevent hemming yourself in by "realism." We must be philosophers and question What is reality anyway? People around you may say things like, "Oh, don't expect to go back at your old salary." They may grimace and frown and say, "At your age you will bump into agism." People say all kinds of depressing things that would seem to hem us in and hold us down as they project their fears onto us. Try to have your imaginary shield up for this kind of thing and don't create an artificial box for yourself and think you are somehow limited before you even begin. Try to allow for infinite possibility, and even happiness, in your new work life.


2. Be a legend in your own mind: 

Because you are "starting over again," there is a wonderful opportunity to completely change your career direction. Just because you were a project manager before having kids doesn't mean you have to be one now. Are there any latent dreams you've had about becoming a milliner and running a cottage industry online somewhere like Etsy? Have you always wanted to sing? Again, as in Tip 1, try not to limit yourself too quickly (if at all) by brushing aside any dearly held dreams. Sure, you may have to get the proverbial day job until you launch something else, however this is a golden time in your life to reinvent yourself. Write down a list of all the jobs you saw yourself doing when you were a child. Write down the jobs that other women have that, when you ponder them, make you just a tad jealous or create a sense of longing. What does your heart long for in terms of your professional world?


3. Be Wonder Woman: 

So much of what we end up doing in the outer world begins with a series of thoughts we have. If our inner dialogue is fearful and cautious, we might accept sub-par job offers thinking that we have to grab the first thing even if it isn't right for us. Even if you are the most passive woman on the planet, picture yourself not only as confident and proactive but with several super powers to boot. Have fun with it.


4. Cast your net wide: 

College applicants are told to apply to three tiers of choices: their "reach" schools, their 2nd choice schools and their fall-back schools. Think of your job search in a similar way. Even if you don't get the advertised position, the HR person might pull your resume for a different opportunity.


5. Take aim like Artemis: 

In addition to being a superhero, imagine you are a powerful woman in mythology who goes after what she wants. Imagine a job as a bright red apple and you drawing back your golden arrow. Focus on what you want. Know what excites you and makes your heart say YES!and then take aim.


6. Have a multi-pronged strategy: 

Yes, you should look at job listings and send resumes. However, try other approaches as well. Walk into a business and talk to the people there. Invite a manager to have coffee with you for an informational interview. Go to job fairs. Be creative.


7. Don't fret over your resume: 

Heresy, right? Of course you must have a resume. However, odds are your resume won't be the thing that gets you the interview or the job. If working on your resume is the bogeyman that prevents you from moving forward with your job search, begin by setting up a Linkedin account at Linkedin.com. You don't have to complete it to have a presence on Linkedin. Just get your name and a brief description of your industry and past job experience so you can begin to build your contacts base.


8. Believe in your technical skills: 

Try not to confuse your comfort level with your true ability. When the job description says, "Must be Microsoft Word proficient," it does not mean you have to be a Word genius. It just means you need to have worked on Word. Are you comfortable with computers? Maybe not. But that does not mean you should limit yourself from applying to a perfectly good job. Many community colleges have cheap or free classes on basic skills for computers.


9. Network like a mother: 

This is most likely how you will find a job. Use Linkedin. Use your friends. Use your family. Use professional associations. This is how it is done. Connections. Use your superpowers to gain courage and start the power lunches.


10. Have vision: 

Picture what you WANT your new life to look like in 5-10 years and hold tight to that vision. Finding a job--or settling on a career path--may take longer than expected and, at times, feel frustrating. It is important to draw upon your inner resources and who you really are--or who you can be--when life isn't cooperating yet. Know what you really want the outcome to be deep in your heart. The road may be long, but you CAN get there.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

5 Positive Lessons Children Learn From Divorce

Many parents worry their divorce will negatively effect their children. However, one psychologist says divorce can have a positive impact on kids.



Your parents, a best friend, perhaps even yourself—most Canadians have had some experience with divorce. In 2008, Statistics Canada estimated that 41 percent of Canadian marriages would end in divorce before their 30th wedding anniversaries.

Despite this forecast, the actual number of divorces in Canada declined between 2007 and 2008—the most recent years studied by Statistics Canada—but the heartbreak that accompanies a divorce is still very real for many Canadian children. Thankfully, not all kids grow up to carry scars from their parents' split. Here are five positive life lessons children can learn following a divorce.


1. They become resilient and adaptable

For Gabrielle Domingues, a Toronto media specialist and married mother of two, her parents' divorce taught her how to roll with life's changes. "Divorce made me more adaptable to varying lifestyle situations," she says. "My dad lived in a different city for years, so I was more attuned to having more than one resting place with different people and things. That's a useful skill to have."

Dr. Lisa Ferrari, a Vancouver-based clinical psychologist, says Gabrielle's hunch is bang on. "A natural byproduct of going through divorce is that you are required to be more adaptive," she says. "You're in a situation where you have to develop coping strategies to deal with physical and psychological space transitions."


Often, children of divorce grow up having to develop coping strategies that their non-divorce counterparts wouldn't encounter until years later, if at all. "Having to overcome these obstacles and having to deal with change makes some children of divorce more resilient in life," says Dr. Ferrari.



2. They become more self-sufficient

Tara Richmond, a married mother to a six-year-old son and a marketing and media consultant in Collingwood, ON, found that her parents' divorce made her more confident in her own abilities. "Having a mother working full time after my parents' split taught me how to be more self-sufficient," she says. "I went home after school by myself and often started dinner. At age 11, I was doing laundry, and small grocery shops. I really relished my time alone at home. I got to know myself."

The new economic challenges that come with having a single-parent income often result in the child becoming more responsible for household chores. "It's logical that divorce offspring would view themselves as more self-sufficient, and see this strength as a positive outcome of their parents' divorce," says Dr. Ferrari.


3. They develop an increased sense of empathy toward others

A change in the family unit can make some children more sympathetic to the problems of others. "I think I am more accepting of people, their situations and circumstances," says Tara. "My parents were the first of my friends or family to get a divorce. It was 1980, so there was still a stigma."

Dr. Ferrari says that she sees this caring trait in the kids of divorce who frequent her practice. "When their peers have family problems, it's very relatable for them," she says. "I find that they can be quite empathetic."


4. The idea of marriage isn't taken for granted

"Coming from divorced parents, I have a heightened understanding to the stakes [in marriage], which hopefully makes me a more conscientious spouse," says Gabrielle. I feel a certain pride that my marriage is strong and happy when my parents' wasn't, like I'm succeeding where they didn't."

"I'm not surprised that's something Gabrielle's proud of," says Dr. Ferrari. "Even at a young age, kids want to create something different after they've experienced the hurt that comes from the separation of their parents. They say that they're going to do this better than their parents, or not do it at all. Gabrielle's doing it, and she's changing her history."


5. They learn more through quality time spent with each parent

Not all kids of divorce spend less time with their parents. "I got to know my parents on a different level by spending so much time with them individually," says Tara. "I think my relationship with each of them became closer and we learned a lot about each other."
Like Tara, the kids in Dr. Ferrari's practice often mention this plus. "The biggest positive I hear from the kids and see first hand is that they spend more time with dad, especially if their family structure was more traditional [pre-divorce]," she says. "When the parents move into a shared role, the kids find they get more time with their fathers."


While it's more common for a child, or adult, to recount negatives from their parents' divorce, Dr. Ferrari says that the legal community is adopting changes that suit the children's best interests. Hopefully, these adjustments will facilitate more positive outcomes. "We're moving towards alternate dispute resolution processes such as mediation, so parents can go through divorce without involving court," she says. "Engaging in co-parenting therapy lets mom and dad commit to parenting the kids the same way, despite no longer being married to one another. These changes are positive for kids."


Source: http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/relationships/article/5-positive-lessons-children-learn-from-divorce


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Find The Positive Side of Divorce

Finding the positive side of divorce is not always easy, especially when you feel like you've been run over by a Mack truck. But the truth is divorce gives us the opportunity to start over again more intelligently. Plus, when you look for the positive in a situation, it's a lot easier to accept what life hands you.




You Can't Always get What You Want but You Get What You Need

The Rolling Stones were actually very smart. They were dead-on when they sang that you can't always get what you want but you get what you need… that is if you are paying attention to what is being offered. When we wish, pray or hope for something, what we actually might be gifted with is the situation in which to manifest that gift.
All too often, we don't recognize the opportunities in life. We see obstacles instead of openings. Divorce is a perfect example of hidden opportunities. At first we cannot see the forest through the trees. We are in pain and our perspective or outlook is very limited. We don't realize that our divorce has many gifts or opportunities for growth. They are hidden from view but the challenges that lay before us are actually chances to become the person we were always meant to be.
Take Alice. Her marriage was not a happy one but she ignored all the signs along the way. She did not want to have to confront what was happening: she was in denial. She had always allowed her husband a great amount of freedom because she found it difficult to stand up for herself. She lacked self-esteem and she brought this to her marriage.
When her marriage fell apart, she was devastated and claimed she could not understand what had happened. After working together, she was able to face the fact that she had been an enabler of her husband's behavior. By not standing up for herself, she gave him a green light to do whatever he wanted. In addition, by refusing to confront the reality of her marriage, she failed to do take the necessary actions that might have changed the situation for the better. Seeing the truth she now chose to take responsibility for herself and her life.
Alice decided to use her divorce as a catalyst for the changes that would give her the life she wanted and deserved. She chose to see that her divorce was the perfect opportunity to develop self-esteem, confidence and strength. She began to see that perhaps, just perhaps, her divorce was exactly what she needed in order to become what she truly wanted. She had suffered as a result of her low self-esteem and now she found herself in the perfect place to cultivate that trait.
What are you seeking? What do you need? Look around. Is your situation right now a springboard towards what you really want? Remember that you might not get exactly what you asked or prayed for but if you look hard enough, you will see that you may have been gifted with the opportunity to create the things that you so desire.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Re-Spinning Splitting: Why Divorce Needs A Good Publicist

No one tells you not to graduate high school or get married or have kids. No one tells you that you shouldn’t exercise, eat right, save for retirement, or pay your mortgage on time. Or that you shouldn’t learn more, read more or strive for that next rung on the ladder. No one recommends you shouldn’t keep your nose clean, stay off drugs or avoid run-ins with the law. Nope. Nobody. There’s a general consensus that most of these things are smiled upon. Or it’s all a conspiracy theory — depending on your lens.

But we’re told — covertly or overtly — not to divorce. That divorce — in all its splendorous complexity and astronomical emotional and financial expense — is to be avoided at all costs. We’re instructed to “work” on our marriages, no matter how dire they’ve become. You’ll hurt yourself, your families, and your children, you’re warned. You’ll live eternally in financial straits. Your kids will blame you. Your ex-spouse will become an ogre only found in children’s fairy tales. Your life, after divorce, will become a big, black hole of regret, frustration and sadness.
But if nearly fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, why are we still peddling it as doom and gloom? Isn’t it time to put a different spin on it? Of the divorced ranks, I ask: Isn’t there strength in numbers? Shouldn’t divorced folks combine forces to change up the ingrained messages that still plague our society about the ending of a marriage?
Hang on. I’m not arguing for divorce. I’m no more pro-divorce than I am pro-illiteracy. But we’ve become a nation of divorce dissenters. What if we didn’t look at divorce as a failure or a train wreck? What if, instead of promising our kids a happily ever after in which their parents never, ever split, we tell them there’s always that possibility? Marriages, despite our best intentions, don’t always last, we could say, even before trouble is on the horizon. What if we didn’t greet the news of divorce as a tiny tragedy but as a near-inevitable occurrence for half our population?
I’m divorced and my heart still sinks when I hear another couple is divorcing. I know that prescribed road is bumpy and dark and scary. But when I filter out the dire messages about divorce, what’s left? Like millions of others, I’m happier and better off. Not in every way, of course, but in the way most important — my soul is at peace. My kids see their mother — not as a shadow of herself — but as authentically living and enjoying her life. Would they prefer their parents still be married? Perhaps. But that’s because they’re also victims of a society which tells them divorce is bad and sad — that their family is busted.
We need to start managing expectations around here. Just twenty years ago, the idea of legal marriage for our gay friends was anathema to most folks. Even those who supported gay rights may have looked at it as a blue sky dream. But many have come around to accepting it as an inevitability and a human right. Yes, the spin has spun in a different direction. The numbers supported a change in the tide; the need to redefine an antiquated way of looking at what makes a family.
But woe is the gay couple who marries and, yikes, then chooses to divorce. Because, when you divorce, you break up a family. Right? See how readily you nod? But, stay with me here, maybe that’s not how we market it. What if, as a divorced nation, we accepted divorced families, not as broken, but as, well, simply divorced. Without labels attached. Or sympathy. Or blame.
Are there a tiny percentage of folks who live happily and passionately in 50-year marriages? Yes, of course. But many more of us choose to stay in meh marriages. Huge numbers of us get divorced. We’re half the norm. Our stories — and our families — are in desperate need of healthy redefinition.
So, I’ll begin by modeling the change I’d like to see in redefining divorce with a message to my kids: Boys, your family is not broken and neither are you. Your parents got divorced. You’re loved now as you have always been by the very same people. You carry no stigma. When you marry, please choose your spouses with eyes wide open. Know that, if you’re lucky, lust and love will overlap on a good day. Manage your expectations when it comes to the routine of married life. Understand that relationships have ups and downs. But when those downs continue for years on end, know that’s not the way you’re intended to live. I didn’t bring you into this world so you could live unhappily. Or with heavy, dissatisfied hearts. If you divorce, do so fairly, kindly and respectfully. Be a model for successful, divorced families without shame or guilt.
It’s time.

Monday, 12 August 2019

6 Things Every Divorced Parent Should Put On Their "Stop-Doing" List


Dear Kids,

I’ve been thinking about how life has changed for you. There are so many things about our divorce that I wish I could fix or make less painful for you but I can’t. I hate that.


You may not know this but I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I should be or could be doing to make things better for you. What I’ve realized is that sometimes what you stop doing is just as important as what you are doing.


Here are a few things I’m going to put on my “stop-doing” list.

1. I will stop avoiding the “hard “conversations.

There’s some tough stuff regarding the divorce that you and I should probably be talking about. Truth is, I worry about making things worse for you. What if I say the wrong thing or don’t know how to answer your questions? So instead of saying something, I end up saying nothing.

I know that my silence may leave you wondering if it’s okay to talk about it.
When you’ve been brave enough to speak up, there have been times when I’ve put you off or tried to casually change the subject.


The parent in me wants to protect you, to make the hurt and upset stop. The rational part of me knows I can’t and that keeping you in the dark isn't helping either.


You should feel like it’s okay to talk and ask questions. Avoiding the subject is my problem, not yours.


Moving forward, I'm going to do my best to change that. I will work on talking about the elephant in the room and speaking the hard truth.


Deep down I know you are wiser and stronger than I think. You are resilient beyond words. I have every faith that you can get through the this and will use what happened in our family to grow into a better person.



2. I will stop ignoring myself.

A lot of times I feel stuck but don’t reach out for help. I’ve convinced myself if I just dig deep and keep my head down, I can get through this on my own.

The problem is it doesn’t always work. There are times when I feel exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed and sometimes even resentful of our situation. I know when this happens I can’t be the parent you need me to be. So, I try harder. This usually leads to me feeling really guilty and beating myself up for not being a better parent.


I often pay more attention to putting out fires and checking off to-do lists than whether I’m eating, sleeping or getting a break once in a while.


However, I realize that if I don’t make it, you won’t either.


While I may not always know where to turn, I will commit to finding some support. Whether it’s a trusted friend to help me sort things out, reading a book or finding a professional who can offer some insight, I will take that first step. I will make time to see a movie just for me, hang out with friends or go for a run.


I promise to do a better job of taking care of myself. Not only will it allow me be a better parent, but maybe it will help you set the bar a little higher for yourself someday.

3. I will stop expecting my truth to be your reality.

I hope you know I want you to be able to love both of your parents. You should never have to pick sides, worry about being fair or feel caught in the middle of our problems.
I realize what I see and feel about your other parent isn’t your truth, it’s mine.


And yet, sometimes feelings and memories from the past get the best of me. I forget that we can be two good people who didn’t make a good couple. That we will always be the only Mom and Dad you will ever have.

So I am going to try harder to separate my feelings about our marriage from your needs. To be more supportive of your relationship with your other parent and your home with them.
I will do my best to see what you see and stay focused on how important both of your parents are to you.



4. I will stop keeping score.

Sharing time with you is really hard. I resent not always being the parent who gets to see the first time you ride a bike, score a goal, win the science fair or go to the prom. I want to be there for all of it and it sucks that I can’t.

As a result, I can get really focused on having “my time” with you and keeping things fair. I forget that what feels fair to me, may not feel so great for you.


I know that when I get caught up in keeping score, you do too. Even though you don’t talk about it, I know there are times when you worry about keeping things the same between us. That’s not a burden I want you to bear.


I will do my best to be flexible instead of dividing up the minutes and hours of your life. Even though sharing isn’t easy, I will find ways to share those special moments with your other parent.


I will work harder to create memories with you that will last a lifetime and remind myself that "when" something happens isn’t nearly as important as "what" happens.

5. I will stop sweating the small stuff.

When your other parent and I hit a bump in the road or don’t agree, I can dig my heels in with the best of them. I can get over-focused on being right and close minded. When I’m in “my way or the highway” mode, I have a difficult time seeing beyond what’s right in front of me and taking in the big picture.

Truth is, most things don’t matter as much as we think. When you take a step back, most of the problems we lose sleep over are actually quite small.


When things go pear-shaped, I’ll try to give myself some perspective by asking “What difference will this make one month from now? How about six months or a year?”



6. I will stop making negative comparisons.

There are times when I see glimpses of your other parent in you and not always in a good way. When your room is a mess, I know I’ve slipped up and said “You’re just like your Dad.” When you talk smack about a rule you don’t like, I might have said, “You’re as stubborn as your Mom,” or worse.

I’m sorry for that.


When parents get divorced, it’s like you have blinders on. It’s easy to get caught up in all the negative, petty stuff you don’t like about each other. But that’s not fair to you. I know you think of yourself as half mom and half dad, which is the way it should be.

Everyone (including parents) has things that are really great about them and some things that are not so great.


From now on, I’ll do my best to steer clear of zeroing in on the not so great and put more energy into reminding you of the wonderful ways you are like both of us.

I imagine there are other areas of my co-parenting I could improve on. What I want you to know is I am committed to doing what I can to give you the childhood you deserve. You mean everything to me. I always want the love I have for you to be greater than any need I have to be right, proud or in control.


Being your parent is one of the most important jobs I’ve ever had. I hope when you look back on all of this, I’ll have done some things to make you proud.


Love you always,


Your Parent


Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/6-things-every-divorced-parent-should-put-stop-doing-list-mcghee?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_all%3BQ6%2F30MH1Rjd5UVTk6QpiSA%3D%3D