Saturday, 30 September 2017

10 Reasons This Divorced Mom Is Glad It’s Dad’s Weekend

I’m a divorced mom, and I am happy my kids are with their dad this weekend.

I know that’s surprising to read.

Divorce stigma is powerful and real. We divorced parents carry shame and grief and worry around on our backs like three clingy monkeys. We feel the stigma when we fill out school paperwork that doesn’t allow for two houses and hear the constant pitying refrain of “oh, I’m sorry” when we talk about our “broken home.”

The truth is: lots about shared custody is complicated and difficult and sad. But there’s a secret part of this equation that we don’t talk about. Ever. Maybe we divorced parents are afraid being honest about any positive part of sharing custody, however small, might be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and make us social outcasts forever.

Stigma, schtigma. I’m talking about it. Without further ado, here are the ten reasons I’m glad my three angels are with their dad this weekend.

10. I’m over cooking for people who have opinions: For the last week, I’ve put healthy, balanced meals on the table so my children could look at them and ask if this is what we’re having for dinner. No, this is the display dinner before I break out the burgers and fries. Of course this is what’s for dinner! Get your face right, child, I don’t want to see or hear that you and Brussels sprouts are not a thing.

9. My house is clean and will stay that way: If my children are ever lost in the woods, we will be able to find them by the trail of hair bands, chargers, and other assorted schmutz left in their wake. When my house is clean and they’re home, the tidiness doesn’t last long enough to snap a photo, let alone revel in it. I’ve learned to adjust my routine so the house is clean the day they leave. That gives me a weekend to look at neatly stacked magazines and easy-to-find remotes stacked near the couch before Monday arrives and the hurricane hits.

8. Car pool drop offs and pick ups are the sixth circle of hell: I drove for, wait for it, four hours yesterday and never left the five miles surrounding our home. I was at the same intersection five times. Each time, I had a different kid in the back. I may not drive at all this weekend, just to give the car a much-needed rest.

6. The kids miss their dad: I love my sweeties. My husband loves my sweeties. I’m their mama and he is a terrific stepfather. That doesn’t fill the daddy space in their hearts. Dad sleeps in and makes pancakes and knows all the silly viral videos they watched this week. He’s different from Mama. They need him.

5. I’m all out of words: Seriously, fresh out. I am asked to comment on 64,000 things a day. Yesterday, my 8-year-old asked me what planet I would be if I had to choose. Mostly, I love it. I want nothing more than to be fully connected and enmeshed in their busy lives. I appreciate that they want my opinion. It’s a privilege. Also, it is exhausting.

4. No more pop-quizzes: Who was the 15th president? What’s important about the Pythagorean Theorem? What’s for dinner April 23? Nope. All done. Google and Mama are signing off for the weekend.

3. I need to tag in my partner: This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. My 15-year-old son is pushing hard against any limit I set, which is his job as a teenager. I’ve been the bad guy most of the week. Dad is prepped and ready to take over as the Master of No. No, you can’t meet your friends when your homework’s not done. No, girls can’t “hang” upstairs in your room with the door closed. No, you can’t finance a new phone. I’m glad to pass the No baton.

2. I miss my husband: Our life is loud and busy and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Four days a month, I connect with my husband in the way we might if we were newlyweds. Just us and the dog. We eat breakfast late and nap and stay up binge-watching totally inappropriate shows. It’s glorious, and I look forward to it. Blended family couples don’t get alone time at the start of their marriages; we must capture it where we can.

and finally...

1. They’re still mine, and they’ll be back: I’m happy to see them go because I’m finally at peace with our family’s regular and predictable rhythm. I love my children and they love me. I’d rather have them full time but that isn’t our path.

They’re not any less mine at Dad’s. They’ll be back. Our children are happy and healthy and loved and loving, just as they would be in a first family. They simply split time differently.

Secure in the knowledge that the kids are happy and healthy, I can pursue what keeps me happy and healthy too. I fill my reserves when the kids are with their dad, and that makes me a better mom when they come home to me.

I know this isn’t every divorced parent’s reality. Many single moms and dads do not have an active parenting partner to tag in. Many are still swimming through grief. That’s okay. It took time and work for me to even whisper that a weekend to myself twice a month was not all horrible. Today, I’m owning it.


Friday, 29 September 2017

Ex-etiquette: Honoring parents, acknowledging stepparents

Q. My parents broke up years ago and chose new partners that are far better suited for them. I was raised by four people I knew loved me. I was never asked to choose homes or parents. However, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day poses a problem for me. Got any ideas how I can acknowledge my stepparents while not slighting my mom and dad? What’s good ex-etiquette?

A. Good ex-etiquette is good behavior after divorce or separation based on the best interest of the child you share, and it sounds as if you have had parent figures who have done their best to do just that — put you first. Based on that, you may be worrying for nothing. If it was common place for your mom and dad to put their issues aside and let you love everyone who cares for you, it’s unlikely they will be offended by your affection for their partners. That’s how they raised you. Unfortunately, your question is proof that even though parents do a good job at co-parenting, a child of divorce can still feel torn. No one asked you to compare, yet you still feel as if acknowledging one means you may be slighting the other. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or situation.” It can be “also” if you let it.

The truth is, you have already answered your own question. It’s obvious you have a clear understanding that Mom is Mom and Dad is Dad, plus, you feel lucky to have two other people in your life who have loved and cared for you — so that’s exactly what you say. (Ex-etiquette rule No. 8, “Be honest and straightforward.”)

“On this day of all days, when it comes to mind how grateful I am to have a Mother (or Father) I adore, I would also like to thank you, (name of the partner), for your love and support.”

Sounds a little formal, I know, but something like that in your own words acknowledges your parent as a priority and lets your bonusparent know how grateful you are for his or her contribution. You may also want to consider acknowledging mom or dad. Good ex-etiquette does establish a pecking order — “Parents make the rules; bonusparents uphold them.” (Ex-etiquette rule No. 4)

From a mother’s perspective, it’s a great comfort to know your child is loved in their other parent’s home — and it goes a long way if it is acknowledged. Right around Mother’s Day was the first time my bonuskids’ mom acknowledged my contribution — she started out with something like, “Now that time has passed, and things have calmed down I know my kids are safe with you, and that’s all I really ever cared about.”

Then she came out and said, “Thank you for loving my kids.”

I liked that a lot. Still, do.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Do your best not to put yourself in the middle. Your parents didn’t. That was good ex-etiquette.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Thursday, 28 September 2017

How to End a Miserable Marriage (Without Feeling Guilty at All)

It’s time to stop bullying yourself into staying…

One of the reasons making the decision to divorce is so painful – even when you know that leaving your marriage is absolutely the right thing to do – is that you believe doing so is wrong or bad.

So instead of sitting down with your spouse and having an honest discussion about ending your marriage, you remain stuck in your head (and your unhappy marriage) wondering how to divorce without feeling guilty.

Guilt is an emotional anchor and can prevent you from taking the actions you need to take care of yourself.

It’s tremendously difficult to shed because it’s based on the expectations you have of yourself. Expectations like being an amazing parent to your kids, being true to your spiritual and religious beliefs, keeping the promises you make to your spouse and yourself, and the family and friends who love and respect you.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these expectations – until you use them against yourself as a reason to feel guilty about even considering getting divorced, despite knowing the only way for you to feel true happiness is to leave your marriage..

So here you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Paralyzed and unable to move. Out of guilt.

But you can move forward, work through your guilt and gain the clarity and peace of mind you yearn for.

The first step is to work on your thoughts.

As you continue to adjust your thoughts by allowing yourself to gather and consider more information, your emotions will shift away from the guilt. You can then begin your divorce journey from a place of respect for your spouse – and for yourself – rather than from a place of guilt, shame and blame.

Here are five tips for how to divorce without feeling guilty – for anything.

Feeling guilty about what divorce would do to your kids?

First, it is extremely important to understand that the commonly accepted “fact” that divorce destroys children is a lie.

What makes divorce so hard for kids is how their parents react to and deal with it. If you and their other parent treat your children as messengers or spies, stop spending quality time with them because you’re too wrapped up in your life, stop showing them the love they deserve, cease giving them the structure and security they need, or talk poorly about their other parent when they are within earshot, your kids will certainly suffer.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering because of your divorce. It means they are suffering because of your poor behavior and role modeling.

If you commit to being the best parent you can be and get the support you need to move past your divorce as completely as possible, you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Feeling guilty about betraying your spiritual and/or religious beliefs?

This type of guilt is usually based on fear of reprisal from On High. And this was something I really struggled with when I got divorced.

In virtually all religious traditions The Deity is forgiving and teaches love. If this is true of your religious/spiritual view, then you know that others can be and are forgiven for their mistakes.

And you’re no different from any other person, you make mistakes and you can be forgiven without the requirement to continue to feel guilty once you’ve asked for forgiveness. Even better, you take the time to learn the lessons from your experiences so you can move forward with enriching your spiritual and religious life.

And, seriously, if God can forgive you, who are you to not forgive yourself?

Feeling guilty about breaking your promise to your spouse?

The fact is that people grow and change over time. You and your spouse are both different from the people who promised to live together for the rest of your lives.

And chances are you’ve both neglected your marriage over the years.

The best thing you can do now is acknowledge to yourself and to your spouse your own part in the demise of your marriage and apologize for it. And since this is the best you can do, there’s no reason to continue to beat yourself up for it, since castigating yourself won’t change anything.

This is another opportunity for you to learn and change how you’ll do things in the future.

Feeling guilty about breaking your promise to yourself?

Again, you’ve changed over the years and so has your spouse.
The truth is that you’ve always don’t your best given the circumstances you were in and the knowledge you had at that time. That doesn’t mean you were perfect or the ideal mate for your spouse, and that’s OK.

The promises we make to ourselves are the best we know how to make at the time to provide us with as much joy, as little pain, and as solid a sense of integrity as possible. As we mature, what makes us feel good about our lives changes – sometimes dramatically.

Sometimes the only way to maintain personal integrity is to break a promise you made to yourself when you were a different person and to then let the guilt of having to break the promise dissipate.

Feeling guilty because of how your family and friends might react (or are reacting)?

You’ve probably heard the adage “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

This sentiment is an important one to remember as you continue your divorce journey.

The people who truly love you want the best for you and sometimes their expectations and biases can get in the way. And when that happens they begin their efforts to induce guilt in you.

When family or friends attempt to send you off on a guilt trip, their words and behavior say much more about them than about you.

And that sometimes they turn out to be people who don’t matter in your life (at least in the moment).

These tips regarding how to divorce without feeling guilty all focus on how YOU think about and interpret things.

That’s because you need to change your thoughts and perspectives before you can start releasing the emotional anchor of guilt.

As you continue to remind yourself of these ideas, you’ll start feeling more compassionate toward yourself and your soon-to-be-ex.

As your compassion grows, your guilt will diminish and you’ll be able to move forward and end your marriage with respect and love for everyone concerned – including yourself.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Omaha mom: How a divorce can lead to improved parenting

My alternating Saturday mornings are wildly different. In one weekend, I wake and stretch my toes, heave a big satisfactory sigh and smile into the quiet. I prepare my coffee, lazily curl up on my couch to read my newspaper and decide how I will spend the day in self-care and hobbies.

On the next weekend, I can hardly wait for my fifth-grader to come peek into my room so we can loudly make breakfast together in the hopes of stirring her 13-year old sister. The cheerful chaos of mapping out our activity-driven day ensues with the search for shin guards, identifying when homework will be done and getting caught up on the who’s in and out of their fast-paced, friend-swapping lives.

As a divorced parent, both weekends carry guilt.

In the first, I feel guilty for the sheer enjoyment I experience in down time. Often, the quiet lasts too long and I crave the chatter of my girls, and my heart sinks by Sunday evening with missing them. In the second, I feel guilty for having to “catch up” after the past couple of days without them. I have to balance the urge to “make up” for missing them with spoiling them and planning only fun-filled activities void of any normal parent-child responsibilities and chores.

I have learned in my own life and in watching divorced parents for nearly two decades, that navigating the hardness of co-parenting and never really getting used to not living 100 percent of the time with your children takes a lot of work. It also leads to some fairly universal new parenting perspectives.

We have to do it all, and that improves our overall parenting — even if it's exhausting. During our parenting time, we are 100 percent in charge and responsible for all things parenting, including new challenges and issues because we must be both mom and dad.

For me, I had to learn how to be more active with my kids because that was a role, pre-divorce, filled by their dad. He had to learn the art of matching hair bows to outfits and tracking all of the parenting to-dos. We are both now more complete parents, having had to fill both roles.

We have rich relationships with our kids. For better or worse, our children spend more one-on-one time with each of us than they ever did when we were a family unit. Despite the downside of never having us together, they do get undivided attention from each of us on a regular basis.

We have a deep appreciation for time spent with our kids. As any parent who has been away from their child on a business trip or an adult vacation has experienced, you miss your kids. You look forward to seeing them again. You cannot wait to hug them. Divorced parents experience this feeling toward their kids weekly. As a result, a deep appreciation grows post-divorce for the time you get with your children. It is rarely taken for granted and often treasured.

Divorce is hard; parenting after divorce is even harder. But the new parenting perspectives gained from the grit of just getting through it lead to renewed relationships with your children that will be the best version yet.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Seek out Help, don't go it alone

"An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning on each other, become a strength." - Leonardo DaVinci
We all need help from time to time, especially when working through times of challenge and difficulty such as divorce or any other hardship. There should be no shame, embarrassment or pride that prevents us from seeking help, learning and inspiration from those who've been through similar challenges to us and who can help us to understand how they made it through.
"You have two hands, one to help others, the other to help yourself" - Anon There will always be those who are a few steps ahead of us and those a few steps behind. What's important is to help those we can help and to seek help from those who can help us.

Recognise where you need help in life and then seek it out; there is great power in doing so!

10 ways to cope with adversity

Sometimes life throws a challenge or problem at you that seems insurmountable. Here's how to clear a path in the jungle of adversity to give you space to move on. By Sharon Marshall.

1. Take baby steps

Break down complex situations into smaller, more manageable tasks, says journalist Laurence Gonzales, who frequently finds himself having to cope with adverse situations. "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The smaller the steps you take in a difficult situation, the better." By employing this simple strategy - like doing a practical task like housework in a stressful situation - you allay your anxiety, restore organised thinking and get your brain back on track to help plot your next move.

2. Deny denial

Gonzales says, "One of the first stages of grief and other forms of adversity is usually denial. We refuse to accept that bad things are happening to us." Sandy Miller, whose brother was arrested wrongly, says her immediate reaction was one of denial. "My first reaction was to keep it quiet and not tell anybody. As the case dragged on,I realised it would hit the press at some stage anyway," says Sandy. "Allowing others to know helped me to cope with the reality of the situation, and face the consequences rationally." The quicker you accept the reality, the better your chances of moving on.

3. Bounce back

The biggest lesson for life coach Jana Beutler Holland, after working in a juvenile court, was learning what makes people resilient. "Just as there are some children from great families who mess up, there are, too, many children who come from dysfunction and despair, who somehow make it, and somehow survive amazingly well - despite poverty, affliction, criminal families, lack of education, and a lack of social or moral values or role models." The answer, she discovered, lay chiefly in love, support and opportunity for growth. "Those who have an internal locus of control, a sense of purpose and support structures learn to be resilient and go with the punches," says Jana. Now is the time to draw on your internal strength.

4. Don't panic

"As a young child, I was thrown into a pool by one of my brother's older friends. Though I have been afraid of water all my life, the one memory that sticks with me from that experience is that I intuited that I would drown if I panicked," says Carl McDonald, now 70. Resisting panic is also the first lesson that survival course instructors teach. Trauma counsellor John Dokes explains: "Whether it's a natural disaster, civil unrest or something more minor, the bottom line is that panic can lead to death. In the pool situation, by remaining calm and relaxing your muscles, you can actually gradually bring your head above water. Once you are calm, you are much more likely to resolve the situation ina positive manner."

5. Surrender, but don't give up

Pessimistic though it may sound, imagining the worst possible outcome allows you to relax and accept it. "In a survival or terminal illness situation, many learn to accept that they may die. Once they do, they find a sense of peace about it," says psychologist Jana Lund. "They stop trying to control things they have no power over and focus on those actions they can take. It sounds almost contradictory, but by accepting your limitations, you diffuse the emotions that can work against you."

6. Be pro-active

When her uncle's left hand was amputated after being injured in an accident with a log splitter, inspirational writer Deanna Mascle learnt a valuable lesson, "It was devastating to those who love him and certainly no one would have blamed my uncle for becoming depressed and grieving." However, instead of choosing that path, says Mascle, her uncle focused on what he could do, rather than on what he couldn't. "And if he discovers something that he can't do one-handed then he puts his considerable problem-solving abilities to work on a solution. He isn't simply reacting to a tragic accident, but proactively seeking solutions."

7. Get support

There is no need to do it alone. Ask for help. While diet, health and scientific research may come up with interesting theories of longevity, one common factor amongst survivors of adversity tends to be their connection to other people, says Mascle, regardless of religion or ethnic background.

8. Ditch the past

In a nutshell, victimhood is caused by being a prisoner of your past, says Rohini Singh, author of The Only Way Out is Within (Hay House). "You feel betrayed and let down by circumstances, people, and perhaps life itself. Energetically, you're wounded and bleeding. Obviously, you'll feel joyless and drained. Burdened with it and expecting it to repeat itself, you'll allow the very people or circumstances ‘cheating' you to continue to repeatedly ‘abuse' you," she says. By giving up blaming and complaining, you take charge of your life, assume responsibility for your state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and give up the burden of manipulating all the circumstances and situations you face, says Singh.

9. Be practical

When crisis strikes, everyday life seems inconsequential and insignificant in the face of the disaster, but it is often those little routine measures which keep the fabric of normality in place. For Joan Didion, author of A Year of Magical Thinking (Fourth Estate), in which she describes her reaction to the sudden loss of her husband, the solution was food. "When someone dies, I was taught growing up in California, you bake… You drop [the baked goods] by the house. You go to the funeral. If the family is Catholic you also go to the rosary, but you do not wait or keen or in any other way demand the attention of the family. I will not forget the instinctive wisdom of the friend who, every day for the first few weeks, brought me a quart container of scallion-and-ginger congee from Chinatown. Congee I could eat. Congee was all I could eat."

10. Laugh last

Using the example of a man ensnared by a bear trap, self-help writer Jon Glassett expounds the following theory: "The greatest weapon against adversity is laughter. No matter how serious the situation, you can - with time and proper training - wield laughter as you might a sword or chainsaw. Reach down into the depths of your bowels and muster a laugh so intense - so disturbingly hysterical - that immediately the situation takes on an entirely different tenor." In fact, adds Glassett, experts in this technique have managed to generate enough leverage using ‘crazy laugh' that bear traps will actually spring open and leg wounds will spontaneously heal.


Parenting after divorce: the art of not being ugly

Having separate homes may not qualify as ‘bird’s nest custody’. But by building a whole new relationship with your ex, the spirit of nesting can help maintain a healthy environment for your children

Ten years ago, roughly nine months into our divorce, my ex and I started to build a relationship. The immediate aftermath of our split had been a sour blend of quiet and hurt. We tried to make politeness our default position, and it occasionally held. What kept us connected was our boys, then six and nine. They cut through whatever anger sat between us. We held to that one point of agreement: change the boys’ lives as little as possible. After children have seen their lives inverted, that all sounds a bit feeble, but it was a seed.

Their mother retained primary custody. The boys lived with her in the only house in New York they had known, a loft in lower Manhattan. Before moving back to my childhood neighborhood in Brooklyn, I spent two years in an apartment close to Ground Zero, then a generally inactive construction site. In 2006, it was just a way to live near the boys’ home and school. The ghosts were quiet and my kids liked the hotel restaurant next to my building.

When a central home is maintained, and parents cycle through it while the kids stay put, it’s called “bird’s nest custody” or “nesting”. We were improvising, with the help of therapists, and didn’t know what nesting was, even if we mimicked it. We maintained two separate homes, so our arrangement didn’t qualify, though we kept the boys’ concerns central. Our interactions with each other in the first year were the least generous. But a second rule went into effect early: no badmouthing the other parent, whatever the topic. And we were lucky – we liked and respected each other, beneath the turbulence. That’s where we had started. 
So the irregular interactions led to a committed decision to not be ugly, even when that seemed impossible. There was enough doubt and hurt for all four of us – anything to clean the air helped. It was a way of being both selfish and considerate.

Even when there wasn’t much of it, talking was a boon. When living together, decisions can be made by default, without negotiation. Sightlines become assumed statements: “There she goes with the morning drop-off. I guess she’s OK with it.” But when you live in two places, and children aren’t old enough to travel alone, every movement has to be discussed. Who will take whom where and when? Can you take Friday night, because Thursday I need to do something for work? Generosity encouraged reciprocity. The marriage cynic would say: “Well, sure. You had to get along because you can’t engage in the silent warfare of marriages.” But of course you can fight, if one parent doesn’t care about seeing the kids. That wasn’t the case, and a cold war never came. We had no choice but to talk.

Whatever else may vex me about cellphones, beginning with my own dependence on them, they allowed a reliable line to my kids. In the past 10 years, we’ve rarely gone a day without talking or texting, even when one of them had a Soviet-style flip phone that could only burp four words a minute.

Not everything clicked smoothly into place. Talking involved just as many unpleasant standoffs as reasonable compromises. “You’re letting them see what? And do what? And miss what school event?” But the distance between households in two different boroughs meant disagreements needed to end quickly. We couldn’t pretend the proximity of a shared house was some simulacrum of “dealing with it”. If we didn’t table a problem, we wouldn’t know how the other parent felt, or what we were supposed to be doing, empirically, minute by minute.

Parents make decisions that are as constant as the subjects are varied. They can involve, but are not limited to, middle schools; high schools; unexpected silences from a normally chatty boy; punishments for ambitious, unauthorized parties; whether or not 48 Hours is a comedy; the choice of a party restaurant really far uptown, way the hell away from Brooklyn; and other traditional life events.

I had no control over the most useful development. Two years into our divorce, my ex reunited with her college boyfriend. (Facebook is not entirely evil.) They became permanent partners, both wearing engagement rings to this day. “Marriage ruins everything,” they said, so suspended in love they remain, without any help from the state. Her partner became a third parent to my boys. It is hard to accept that he’s seen them more than I have in the past eight years. It would be harder to accept someone into our family who wasn’t willing to talk through whatever came up, and continues to come up.

Which is not to say the ache overwhelms the memories. For every breakfast I’ve been absent from, there is a trip to Junior’s Restaurant just for cornbread and coleslaw. For every Broadway play missed, there’s a duet of two fools twisting to the Fearless Four on dishtowels.

Right now, all three are driving back to New York with my youngest son, now 16, after visiting a few colleges in New England. Not being there does not get easier for me. 

Debriefing helps.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Living for the future vs Living in the Now

My thoughts on the importance of living for the now, looking to the future and letting go of the past (once you've learned the lessons from it of course!)

How easy do you find it to stay in the now? Let me know your thoughts!

Find more videos like this one over at the Divorced Lifestyle Design YouTube Channel!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Hardest Part of My Divorce Has Nothing to Do With My Marriage

Divorce isn’t for the weak. Hell, it isn’t even for the strong. You can think you’re prepared and ready, but it still won’t ready you for what’s to come. My own divorce has thrown me completely for a loop.

Before we decided on divorce, my ex-husband and I had always been extremely close, and that closeness extended into our relationships with our two children. Our weekends and evenings were usually always spent together. We loved being together as much as possible. 
We did everything as a family. But of all of the things that have been hard to navigate, spending the less time together with my kids has been the hardest part of my divorce.

In the beginning my ex-husband and I tried to still do family dinners and outings after our separation, but our differing schedules have made it difficult. Without a co-parent in the house, and living 20-30 minutes apart, we don’t get to spend time together as much anymore. This broke my heart. And then, when my kids would beg for more family time together with both their mom and their dad, it shattered what little was left of my heart into dozens of little pieces. I couldn’t give them what they were asking for, and neither could their dad.

In the months since our divorce, we’ve all adjusted to our new realities, but it doesn’t stop me from missing them on the days and nights I don’t have them. I find myself in their room cleaning it for them, making their beds, trying not to cry, overwhelmed by the sheer sum of my love for them. I can’t wait until I can pick them up from their dad’s or when he drops them off.

Some say it gets easier, others swear it never does. I cry every time they leave me. The fact that I am full-time working mom already made it so that I see my kids a very limited amount, but now, because of my divorce, there are days when I feel like I don’t see them at all.

I complain about how loud my children are — because they are so loud — but then the minute they’re out of my house, I miss the nonstop noise. I crave their little laughs and screeching high-pitched voices. When they’re with me, I look forward to bedtime, because I’m worn out and I just need a break, but the nights without them I just wish so badly I could tuck them in and have them ask me for more kisses.

This past week, my ex was on a trip, so every morning I woke up to them asking for breakfast. I complained, but secretly, I loved it so much. Every night we read together, cuddling in my bed, and on the last night before he came home, my son fell asleep next to me. I wanted that to last for the rest of the week, maybe even for the month. When their dad came, they were happy, but sad to leave me. It ripped me apart.

I often feel like a selfish parent. I left their dad, which means that their family unit operates in two different pieces because of me. On the night my partner came to pick them up after his trip, my son screamed for me as his dad buckled him in. I was gutted. This happens almost every time we do drop offs and pick ups. I watched my son’s face fall as he reached for me, only to be carried away by his dad.

What could I do but stand by and watch, blowing kisses and promising to see him soon? There’s nothing I can do to fix it, except make promises I might not be able to keep about going places and doing special things together when we’re back together. Reminding them that “I love you always” doesn’t make their pain go away. To be honest, it doesn’t make mine, either.

Before I got divorced, I had friends who asked me to promise that I wouldn’t “be one of those divorced parents who spoils their kids to make up for it.” I promised up and down that I wouldn’t, but I get it now. I understand the guilt. The sadness. Things don’t replace a parent, but I think it numbs pain. So we buy them things. We are trying so hard not to “spoil” them, not to give into their every demand, but it’s so difficult.

My parents fought constantly when I was growing up, but my world stayed in tact. I never needed things to replace a parent, nor did I know the searing hole a seat at the table might leave on me. I didn’t know what it was like to have my world flipped upside down. My children do. It’s not an excuse to give them whatever they demand, but I have a newfound compassion for children of divorce. The weight they have to carry, the adjusting they’re forced into, the pain of knowing one thing one day, and then having to live a whole new life the next. If my world feels out of orbit, I can only imagine what it’s like for my babies.

My daughter tries so hard to be brave when she says goodbye to me, but I see her drop her head as she drives away with her dad. The night we told them we were separating, she curled herself up in a corner of the bathroom, crying softly. We asked her if she was OK, to which she responded, “Yes, I’m just sad. I didn’t want to be that family that lived in two different houses. You both were supposed to stay together. I didn’t want Beck and I to be those kids who didn’t have both their mom and dad at home.” I think about that night often.

I don’t believe that parents should stay together for their children, because I believe that creates a very unhealthy living situation, and creates an idea that love looks like abuse and pain. Yet, divorce comes with its own challenges and growing pains — adjustments I’m still trying to adjust to.

Yes, on days without them I get my work done much faster, things stay clean longer, and I can sleep in. But the overwhelming sadness covers me the minute they leave and is my unwelcome and unwanted company until they return again. My heart really was never given the time to heal and mend itself; it breaks again and again with every goodbye.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

The First Step To Empowering Yourself After Divorce From A Narcissist

Divorce from a narcissist will keep you miserable, sleepless, panic-stricken, and crazy until you develop this crucial mindset:

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance is a mindfulness principle. It means you accept reality, as painful as reality is at this moment. Your reality is that the narcissist in your life is fundamentally incapable of giving you what you need. Expecting otherwise will just cause you more suffering: not only is the narcissist psychically beating you up, but you are also beating your head against the wall.

If you’re divorcing or divorced from a narcissist, you may be unpleasantly surprised that your life feels more unmanageable than it did when you were married. Your ex has turned into a terrorist: he (or she) alleges that you’re an unfit parent; threatens litigation to get you to back down; tries to turn your kids against you; tries to get full custody (he may not even want it, but getting it would be the ultimate revenge); and creates all kinds of drama in an attempt to prevent you from getting what you thought divorce would bring you: the ability to move on with your life.

Does Radical Acceptance Mean I Give Up?

Yes and no. Yes, it means you give up the struggle to make reality different. No, it means you take back your power, which is the opposite of giving up. You may feel that your narcissist ex has you trapped, but you have much more freedom than you think. When you adopt a Radical Acceptance mindset, you will learn to:

1. Stop defending yourself.

2. Stop trying to get your ex to see your point-of-view.

3. Stop expecting your ex to compromise or mediate (mediation generally fails because narcissists lack empathy, reciprocity, and flexibility, all traits required for a successful mediation).

4. Stop expecting your ex to respect your boundaries, the court order, and your children’s right to have a healthy relationship with you.

5. Stop expecting your ex to act in the best interest of your children.

6. Stop expecting your ex to take even a smidgen of accountability for anything other than what goes right with the children.

7. Stop expecting your ex to “get over it.”

Once you stop expecting your narcissist ex to suddenly morph into a reasonable person, you will probably feel relieved. You will no longer waste energy trying to will reality to be different. You can then shift your intention to the positive things you can do.

1. Continue to set boundaries (even if your ex ignores them). Your ex doesn’t get to run your house. You don’t even need to let him in your house (this may require revising your court order, but it’s worth it). Explain to your ex that your kids will not be taking his calls during dinner time (hide the phones if you need to). Wait a day before responding to incendiary texts and emails. Parent your children the way you think is best, despite what your ex tells you to do.

2. Develop a policy for electronic communication. Counter cyber-bullying by limiting your ex’s access to you. Unless it’s an emergency, there is no need to respond to every histrionic email and text. Once a day should be sufficient. When you do reply, don’t hit “send” right away. Wait for your blood pressure to return to normal and then draft a brief response that focuses on facts and logistics. When you feel the urge to defend yourself or lash out in retaliation, disengage. Why are you getting riled up by someone who is, at least in relation to you, crazy?

3. Take regular divorce vacations. Implement a no-divorce zone in your life. Don’t do anything divorce-related — including texting or emailing your ex — after a certain time, say, 9 p.m. This will help you get a good night’s sleep. Don’t talk about your divorce 24/7 with your friends, especially if you want to keep them. When you catch yourself arguing with your ex in your head, first acknowledge that you’re ruminating, and then shift your focus to something that has nothing to do with him (or her).

4. Nurture your healthy relationships. It’s common to feel depressed and anxious when divorcing a narcissist. But don’t let these feelings consume you and cause you to isolate. The best antidote to depression is to stay connected to people who care about you. Good friends make you feel good about yourself, which will help put your ex’s opinion of you in perspective.

5. Practice self-care. Take whatever healthy steps you can to sleep and eat. Go to therapy. Take medication if you need to. Exercise. Eat small meals. If you get paid vacation and sick time at work, use it. Do something creative, which will shift your focus from Divorce Gloom to things that are life-affirming.

6. Have a sense of humor. It’s hard to get through life without a sense of humor. Read or watch something that makes you laugh. Hang out with friends who crack you up. Having a sense of humor won’t change your ex, but it will help you disengage from his antics.

7. Focus on what’s going well. No matter how bad things seem, there are people out there who have it worse. Keep a gratitude journal and write down one thing everyday that you’re grateful for. Writing down little things — a hot shower, ten fingers and ten toes, a comfortable bed — can be surprisingly powerful because you will begin to realize how much you have going for you, and how much you’ve been taking for granted.

Few of us, if any, dwell in Radical Acceptance 100% of the time. Cultivating that mindset is a daily practice. But over time, this mindset will give you what your ex never can: serenity, personal power, and the ability to enjoy life as it is today.

Friday, 22 September 2017

How To Talk To Your Kid About You & Your Partner’s Divorce In A Way They’ll Understand

With divorce comes turmoil, tears, heartbreak, and pain — all things parents want to protect their children from. Which is why knowing how to talk to your kid about you and your partner's divorce is of the utmost importance. During the very emotional time of separation, so many feelings are being sorted out and, when considering children, there must be a thoughtful way of delivering the news.

First, know you are not alone. According to the American Psychology Association (APA), stats say that 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Because of this high rate and the effects divorce can have on families, there are many experts who have weighed in on the best ways to talk to your kids. According to Psychology Today, how a child is told about the divorce will stay with them for a lifetime and, in order to help with any lasting trauma, it's best to "give much thought to the setting and circumstances when you break the news." That setting should include mom and dad telling the kids as a family. This allows kids to understand that, even though the living dynamic is changing, the love, care, and security will always be there.

"The most important things for a child to understand as their parents separate is that the split is in no way their fault, that they are safe and loved by both parents no matter what, and that things will change, but who their parents are will never change," Rebecca Nidorf, licensed clinical social worker and therapist,says in an interview with Romper. "Family is family, even in this new configuration."

Not only should parents make sure their child knows it's not her fault, but psychotherapist Lisa Herrick wrote on her website that they should also reiterate that point even months later. She also wrote that it's good to avoid blame so, "the children are free to continue loving each parent fully without fear of betraying other parent or feeling disloyal."

It's also helpful to be direct when talking to your kids and to keep it simple. "Your child needs to know only one truth. Mom and Dad don’t love each other anymore the way that moms and dads need to love each other to stay together," licensed clinical psychologist Edward D. Farber told HuffPost. "Your child has absolutely no need to know the reasons Mom and Dad don't love each other." Blame shouldn't be placed on either parent — bad mouthing your ex will only hurt your child.

In talking with your kids, let them know how the divorce will change their day-to-day. This is where, Nidorf says, you need to get specific, "to make it the new normal rather than the 'dark unknown.'" She suggests you let your kids know what life will look like in terms of their house, room, and where they will be on what day. "Explain that you will continue to co-parent, to attend school performances, sporting events, and anything that their children are involved in," Nidorf says. "And discuss their health and well-being as always, and that their well-being is the most important thing to both parents."

This reassurance helps to calm worries and concerns your kid will naturally have. Divorce creates a feeling of uncertainty for everyone involved, but when parents navigate the early days with care and consideration for the future and everyone's happiness, children get the sense of security that they need.

With creating secure feelings in mind, avoid words of apology because, as Nidorf says, "apologizing is taking blame for something and indicates to your child that you did something wrong." Instead of saying "I'm sorry" to your child, show empathy. Nidorf recommends saying something like, "I understand that this is painful for you, and I want to help you through that pain any way I am able".

When my ex-husband and I were going through a divorce, we let our 3-year-old twins know that we were still a family, we just live in different houses. This is something we continue to talk to them about four years later, especially now that our children have more questions about it since they were so little when we separated. In doing so, we've created a happy and healthy environment for our children.

"Modeling for your child that life deserves to be lived in a happy and healthy way in happy and healthy relationships is a positive message," Nidorf says.

Divorce is going to be difficult and it's key to take the time to breathe and stay calm for your child as well as yourself. It's all about going through this time thoughtfully, and with the love for your child and self in your heart.


Thursday, 21 September 2017

How Social Media Can Affect Your Divorce

Every so often a topic arises which isn’t, strictly speaking, in the financial realm I usually discuss, but nevertheless has important implications for women going through financially complex divorces. Social media is one of those topics. In my practice as a Divorce Financial Strategist™, I am seeing more and more that not only can social networks and digital communications contribute to the breakup of a marriage, they can have unforeseen consequences in divorce settlement negotiations, as well.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media and professional networking websites and smartphone applications have become an important part of how people interact in today’s culture. They’re fun and useful, and these days, they’re second nature to many of us. When something happens in our lives, we post about it to let our friends know. When something happens in our careers, we update our profiles to enhance professional connections. We’re sharing personal and professional news, triumphs and tragedies, laughs and tears . . . . and lots and lots of pictures.

Unfortunately, though, we sometimes do this without thinking through all the potential consequences. Not every “friend” is a friend. Not every connection is an ally. And many times, a message you thought was private turns out to be anything but.

Here are some of the ways that social media activity can impact your divorce proceedings:

Online activity can provide clues to hidden assets or other dirty tricks.

Married couples often have dozens of mutual friends and connections. If the marriage breaks up, obviously some of these people will be more loyal to one spouse than the other. I’ve had more than one client report a steady stream of information about her estranged husband’s financial activities, as relayed by mutual friends who were still following his Facebook updates. So, even if he’s blocked you from seeing his posts directly, your mutual friends can still tell you all about the ski trip he took to Switzerland with his girlfriend a week after claiming he couldn’t afford to pay spousal support.

Yes, we can definitely add social media activity to the list of signs that your husband may be hiding assets during divorce. Sometimes it isn’t the husband’s online activity that gives him away, but his friends’. Maybe your husband’s pals shared pictures of their trip to Vegas in his new BMW, or his girlfriend updated her Facebook status to exclaim over an expensive present, when he just pleaded in Court that he’s broke. Or maybe a college friend of his suddenly appeared in pictures with a “new” boat –one you recognize as your husband’s, and suspect that this pal is holding it for him until your divorce is finalized. If you think your husband may be hiding assets, social media activity might well bear out your suspicions.

You might also check to see what your husband is saying about himself on dating websites, compared to what he’s saying about himself in Court. Don’t assume he’s been smart enough to keep a low profile. His ego might overcome his better judgment.

Email and text messages can be admissible evidence in Court.

In addition to activity on social media and networking websites, emails and texts – the routine ways we communicate today – can sometimes be subpoenaed and gone through with a fine-tooth comb.

If your husband refers even obliquely to an impending bonus, a new job offer, or a plan to “get away from it all for a few days,” this might be evidence that he is not telling the truth on his Financial Affidavit. At the very least, it could call his credibility into serious question.

Family lawyers advise their clients not to put anything in an email, a text message, online or anywhere that they don’t want the judge to read. In the context of a divorce, if either party has shared information digitally that is at odds with what they’ve conveyed in person, or in legal documents, it can create serious problems. Lying on financial documents is a crime, and social media, email and text messages provide a potentially huge trail of evidence that can be hard to explain away.

This can all work in your favor. But remember, it all applies to you, too.

We’ve discussed ways social media can trip up your husband, but you also need to be exceedingly careful with your own online activity during divorce. Be absolutely sure you update your privacy settings on all social media accounts. Even better would be to follow this general rule:

Don’t post, Tweet, or share anything that you wouldn’t say in person to the whole world, to be remembered forever.

This infographic provides a useful guideline for online conduct during divorce.
In general, you should think of social media activity as both public and permanent. Even if you’ve deleted or hidden previous posts or photos, it is possible that someone has taken a screenshot of your page while they existed or were public, or that a cached version is still retrievable through a search engine. Even Snapchat, a picture-sharing app that’s popular because pictures shared through it “disappear” after a few seconds, is vulnerable to a quick screen shot by the photo’s recipient.

So please, remember two things about social media as you go through the divorce process: 
1) It may provide very useful information about your spouse, particularly if what he says in legal documents is at odds with what he posts online, and 2) He’s hearing that exact same advice from his divorce team. If you use social media yourself, you need to exercise caution, discretion and excellent judgment.

Finally, please note that I’m not an attorney, and I don’t give legal advice. Laws about using email, texts and social media as evidence in divorce cases are notoriously convoluted, and also differ from state to state. Have a detailed discussion with your divorce attorney to find out what online information can be legally obtained and used in your case, and also how to protect your own privacy.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

12 Inspiring Quotes From Celebrity Moms And Dads About Co-Parenting

“Our daughter is growing up seeing two people who care about each other.”

After separating or divorcing from their partners, many celebrity moms and dads keep in mind one important thing: the happiness of their kids.

In magazine interviews and television appearances, the co-parents of Hollywood have made it clear that the experience isn’t always simple and easy, but have also stressed that it is possible to remain a loving family after a separation or divorce.

Here are 12 quotes from celebrity moms and dads about co-parenting.

1 Drew Barrymore on co-parenting with Will Kopelman

“It really is about the tone you set. And you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but kids watch what you do every single day of your life, all day long, and that behavior and that example and that love and community and honesty is just, I think, what’s making everything feel safe for my kids and that’s really the intention I had as a parent.”

During a 2017 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

2 Kate Hudson on co-parenting with Matt Bellamy

“If Matt and I had a great relationship, we would still be together, but we chose to move on because we had different visions of how we wanted to live our lives. That doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t rebuild something that would be the best thing for the kids.”

In a 2015 interview with Allure

3 Jennifer Lopez on co-parenting with Marc Anthony

“Marc and I are very good friends, we’re very supportive. I feel it’s my responsibility as a mom when their dad is not there to let them know that their dad loves them very much because that’s the doubt that they have when he’s not around or they haven’t seen him. That’s my job to do that the same way it’s his job when he’s with them to say, ‘Mommy is working and she loves you.’”

During a 2014 appearance on “HuffPost Live”

4 Sienna Miller on co-parenting with Tom Sturridge

“[We] do bedtime every day. We felt like as much togetherness as possible would be ideal, and fortunately we really love each other and are best friends, and so that works.”

In a 2017 interview with Allure

5 Taye Diggs on co-parenting with Idina Menzel

“As people can imagine, it gets rough at times just because we’re not in the same city, but we still love each other and what’s most important is we love our son. That stabilizes us. I’m thankful for him.”

In a 2015 interview with “Entertainment Tonight”

6 Idina Menzel on co-parenting with Taye Diggs

“[Our son] comes first and you have to get past your own egos and you never talk bad about each other.”

In a 2016 interview with People

7 Angela Kinsey on co-parenting with Warren Lieberstein

“I’m really fortunate because my ex and I are very good friends and I talk to him every day. Our daughter is growing up seeing two people who care about each other. We may not be a traditional family on paper but we are a family and I tell her that families come in all shapes and sizes, but [a family is] love and I see her really flourishing because she sees two people treating each other with respect.”

During a 2013 appearance on “HuffPost Live”

8 Amber Rose on co-parenting with Wiz Khalifa

“I have pictures up of me and Wiz in [our son’s] room so he can always come in and see us being happy together. We try to have family days with him, even though we’re not together. Kids want to see their parents together and if you can’t be together in a relationship, you’ve got to come together as friends for your baby.”

In a 2017 interview with People

9 Miranda Kerr on co-parenting with Orlando Bloom

“We decided as a family it was the right decision for Flynn, so Orlando and I both relocated and we live five minutes from each other ... Everything revolves around my son and his welfare.”

In a 2015 interview with HELLO! Fashion Monthly

10 Nick Cannon on co-parenting with Mariah Carey

“We make the kids the number one priority, for them to see their parents together and for everybody to get along and have a great time.”

During a 2015 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

11 Gwyneth Paltrow on co-parenting with Chris Martin

“I think, unfortunately, even though we couldn’t stay in a romantic relationship, our values are very much around the importance of family and the importance of those relationships and I’m lucky that we’re aligned in that way. And it’s been hard, and you know, we’ve gone through really difficult times with it, but we’ve always said these children are our priority.”

During a 2015 appearance at the BlogHer15: Experts Among Us conference

12 Ryan Phillippe on co-parenting with Reese Witherspoon

“You have to get to that point as a divorced parent, as any parent, where you’re not putting yourself first. You want the kids’ experience to be its own and not like, ‘Well, I need to have my time!’ We have been very good about that.”

In a 2016 interview with “Entertainment Tonight”


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

7 Things You Need to Know to Deal With Major Life Changes

In a split second, in a freak accident, I lost much of my sight. The reaction and adaptation to the trauma and my new disability taught me some key lessons about going through a major life change. A set of life lessons that helped me to survive and thrive. And since most of us go through changes in our lives, some drastic, some minor, these lessons are applicable to you. 
1. It’s okay to be emotional. It’s natural to have feelings of sadness, to grieve over the loss of something, to feel angry about your situation, or to place blame. You have permission to feel that way, but only for moments. You can have your pity party, but only for a day or two, and then you have to move on. If you spend too much time in that place of anger or pity or blame, you end up not being able to adapt to your change. It keeps you in a place of helplessness. And what you need to be is in a place of hope and of growth.

2. You can give yourself permission to be vulnerable: Some of us like to project an image of being strong and fearless, but sometimes it’s not the truth. The truth is that we’re scared, vulnerable, weak and in need of help. We need to allow ourselves to rely on others. And showing that vulnerability is OK. It may feel like you are exposed, but being completely exposed is not always a bad thing. There is always learning and growth that can come from it. You allow people to really see you and when they can see you, can know your stress or pain, they can help. Vulnerability is just part of who we are as people. 

3. You are never alone: Sometimes when we go through major changes we think we are dealing with something no one else can understand or no one else is going through. But there are others that can empathize with you. You’re not alone. Even if you don’t ask people to be around you, family and close friends will come to your side. You’re also never alone because you always have yourself to rely on. And ultimately none of us are separate from the Creator or separate from the universe. So the idea of being alone is a false one.

4. You have to ask for help: Often people don’t know what to say or what to do. After I had my accident, there were people that didn’t call me for several months, and these were people close to me. Some people get stuck because they don’t know what to say or what to do. Sometimes people are natural caregivers. They jump right in to help. But these are the minority. So it is your job to tell people what to say and what to do that will be helpful. What I’ve learned is that I’ve had to ask very specifically for what I need and for even, sometimes, what I need to hear. Being able to clearly articulate what you need gives people a sense of relief. In the end, people really like to be told how they can help you in very specific terms.  They need it defined for them so they can feel like they are helping and supporting you. Left on their own to guess this information, they feel helpless. And when they feel helpless they do not act. So empower them and empower yourself by letting them know specifically how they can help.

5. You can adapt to anything. Our ability to adapt is amazing. As I began to adapt to being a person with limited sight, I was continually amazed at how quickly I could figure out how to get around problems and obstacles. Necessity is the mother of invention and you will naturally find ways to solve your problems and do things in new and different ways when you’re presented with challenges. The adaptability and flexibility of our spirits and of our beings is a given. Those who cannot change and adapt have convinced themselves it is not possible. If you trust that you can adapt, then you will. And if you believe that you can change, then you will, no matter what the challenge.

6. You have to have hope for the future: I’ve been given news that there is no hope for a change in my sight and have been through two surgeries that did not improve it. Despite these setbacks, I have to believe that there is hope in the future. A belief I will get my sight back. Having that hope and having the positive perspective is what keeps me moving forward every day. If I gave up that belief it would be like letting go of a rope that pulls me forward. Believing that things can and will be different, and that you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see like me, is the most important thing in getting through a change process. Knowing that there is an end in sight, knowing there are possibilities, and having hope that things are going to be better. And, ultimately, things are going to work out.

7. You will grow as a person, but you are still the same: Going through a change, especially one that is traumatic, changes you forever. It changes how you see life and deal with things. You’re never going to be the same again and that’s a good thing. Because in the midst of change is a great deal of learning, if you are willing to have vision and perspective. And if you are willing to continually ask yourself the question, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” “How am I supposed to grow?” “How will I become a better person because of this?” In any change process, you can become stronger, and a better version of you. Just because something changes about you, even something radical, doesn’t change the core of who you are as a person. I, as now a visually impaired person, have my same mission, my same purpose, and my same values. So having something different about you doesn’t make you a different human being. If you are strong and centered and grounded, that is still who you are. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of that.


Monday, 18 September 2017

Nesting a New Co-Parenting Arrangement

Divorce is a hard process and perhaps nobody knows this better than the children of divorced parents, who can find themselves caught up in a situation over which they have little control facing an uncertain future. Whilst their emotional lives may be going through turmoil, they also have to contend with the idea that their everyday lives will change, whether that is not seeing one of their parents on a daily basis or moving to a different house or location. Historically there was usually a set plan regarding child custody. In the absence of any glaring reason not to, the mother was granted custodial custody of the children with the father being granted visiting rights. Fathers would see their children every weekend or every other weekend and perhaps for some time during the holidays. In the last decade or so there has been a much bigger shift to a shared custodial arrangement whereby the children spend almost equal time with each parent (or a substantial amount of time with the “non-custodial parent”), moving between their homes. There were many reasons for this shift including fathers being more involved in childrearing and research showing that the involvement of two parents had psychological benefits for the child. As divorce levels rise, people are becoming a lot more innovative about custodial arrangements.

When Daria and David finally decided that their marriage was over they were determined that their divorce would have as little negative disruption on their children as possible. Daria and David decided to give “nesting” a try. Nesting is a relatively new and creative idea in the arena of child custody arrangements. It is called nesting because the children stay in the home while the parents are the ones who leave and return, similar to parent birds who come and go from the nest leaving the baby birds in situ. The concept is based on the idea of shared custody. Shared custody has the advantage that both parents continue to have a close bond with their children and are involved in their everyday lives, but it has a disadvantage of a disruptive effect on the children’s living arrangements as the children shuttle between their parents’ homes. The idea of nesting is that the children stay put in the marital home ensuring their security while it is the parents moving in and out of the house when it is their time with the children.

Daria and David decided on a week each with the handover day being on Sunday. They rented a small flat near their house which the parent without the children would stay in. Daria explained, “We wanted stability for our children in a difficult time. We didn’t want the children to have to constantly pack themselves up. As it was our decision to divorce we felt that we should take the brunt of the moving about”. David added that financially they didn’t have enough money to keep their home and buy a second one which would be suitable for the children, sustaining one household and a small apartment was a lot cheaper.

The advantages for the children mean that they have a feeling of permanence, their environment does not change and they don’t have to remember all their belongings and books each time they move. The sense of routine can be extremely helpful to the children at a time of change and turbulence. It can be great for the children to see their parents co-operating for their sake, and ultimately the children benefit by maintaining a close relationship with both parents in a familiar environment. For the parents, the financial aspects may also be attractive.

However there are downsides in the nesting process. Children may find it hard to accept the end of their parents’ marriage where there is such close co-operation. It also takes a huge effort on the part of the parents to make this arrangement work. Grocery shopping and household chores can be flash points. Where the parents are constantly arguing this arrangement can be more damaging then shared custody where there is little contact between he parents. The lack of privacy can also be an issue, and where one or both of the parents finds a new partner this can make the arrangement impractical . Nesting only works where there is full co-operation between the parents. Many times couples start off wanting an amicable divorce but animosity can set in when the financial settlement is discussed which can make the nesting process difficult, even unsustainable. In any event nesting is usually for a specified time and there needs to be an agreed arrangement in place for when the nesting ends.

Daria and David worked very hard at making nesting work for their family and, although they hit many bumps along the way, they continued the arrangement for 18 months until David found a new partner. At this point they moved to a traditional shared custody arrangement with the children moving between two homes. Both David and Daria agree that although the nesting period was limited and hard, they feel that it has greatly benefitted their children as it provided them with a haven at a time of great uncertainty and change in their lives. Both parents felt that two years post-separation the children were in a better place emotionally to deal with moving between their homes. Daria added that she felt that having been through the frustrations of moving between two homes, she now understood the challenges of moving between homes. "Parents should walk in their kids' shoes," said Joseph S. Mattina a previous New York State Supreme Court justice, who once ordered nesting, with the consent of both parents, because he thought it was important for parents to understand the dislocation that kids often go through in divorce.

Nesting is an idea which takes a lot of co-operation and although there have been rare court ordered nesting arrangements (in the US and Canada) it is mainly thought of as a custody arrangement that would have to be with the consent of both parents. Despite nesting still being an atypical arrangement, as collaborative divorces and mediated divorces come up with more creative child custody arrangements, there has been a lot more interest in the idea of nesting in the immediate period post-divorce. Nesting is certainly not for all couples as it requires a large amount of give and take at a very turbulent time, but for those who can, it definitely appears to be an option , albeit for a specific period of time, that could lend a sense of security to their children during a very uncertain time.

(names and details have been changed)