Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Grandparents Affected by Adult Child Divorce

Responding to the trauma of grandparental alienation.

The importance of grandparents in their grandchildren's lives is a subject now being studied widely and thoroughly. Although researchers point to a wide heterogeneity of grand-parenting roles, for many children and their grandparents, the grandparent-grandchild attachment bond is an important component of their self-identities and a significant factor in their everyday lives. For many kids, this bond is a critical ingredient to their optimal development. The salience of the grandparent-grandchild attachment does not diminish during and after divorce; indeed, grandparents often play a vital role in helping grandchildren adjust to the consequences of parental divorce, providing a sanctuary for the emotional needs of their grandchildren at a time when parents, faced by the multiple losses and transitions attendant to divorce, may be less emotionally available and responsive to their children.
One of the lesser-mentioned advantages of co-parenting after divorce is that it can strengthen children's relationships with both sets of grandparents. One subgroup of grandparents, however, those whose adult children have been affected by parental alienation, are highly at risk of having their relationship with their grandchildren drastically altered if not completely severed. Although prevalent in North American society, such “grand-parental alienation” is rarely a source of professional discussion or concern, even among those who study or practice in the realm of parental alienation. For grandparents and children alike, where the previous relationship involved a good deal of emotional investment and healthy attachment, its loss may eventuate a grief process containing all the major elements of bereavement or trauma which is likely to have profound consequences.       
What are the responsibilities of divorce professionals in regard to the post-divorce grandparent-grandchild relationship? Many have suggested that family mediators and post-divorce family practitioners need to expand their definition of the post-divorce family system, widening their target system of intervention from the nuclear to the extended post-divorce family. Family mediators and practitioners may also strive to engage both sets of grandparents, adopting an inter-generational model of practice with the post-divorce family. Such a model assumes that given the opportunity to participate in the divorce and post-divorce therapeutic process, grandparents are more likely to become important resources in both in the therapeutic endeavor and as supports to children adjusting to the consequences of their parents’ divorce. Grandparent involvement needs to be reframed in a positive manner, particularly in those cases where residential parents view grandparent contact as a threat to their new post-divorce identity.
The new roles and relationships that need to be negotiated in the extended post-divorce family should also extend to grandparents and extended family members.  This entails the recognition that grandparents are in a unique developmental stage with tasks that need to be addressed in conjunction with learning the new post divorce family rules. The therapist must assess the position of the grandparent in the family constellation both before the divorce and in light of the changes required in the post divorce family system. As well, factors such as the health status and age of the grandparents must be considered as they may limit the type and quantity of involvement with grandchildren. Grandparents and grandchildren must be given the right of self-determination in deciding how involved they wish to be with each other and other family members.
Family practitioners and mediators need to ensure that they provide assistance in helping grandparents negotiate their new roles as well as assisting them in regard to their ongoing relationship with their grandchildren. Excluding grandparents from mediation and post-divorce therapy may in fact exacerbate or even create intergenerational conflict. Family practitioners need to assist the entire kin system to develop new family guidelines as they learn to cope with the impact of divorce and subsequent impact on intergenerational relationships.
Family practitioner attitudes toward the involvement of grandparents vis-a-vis post-divorce family issues should be carefully examined, particularly in light of children’s needs and interests. It is only when mental health professionals begin to address the needs and advocate on behalf of the involvement of grandparents in divorce and post-divorce practice that we should begin to see increasing numbers of grandparents initiating requests for help. To date, the alienated grandparent population has remained largely invisible to post-divorce family practitioners and mediators.
An overriding concern of many grandparents today is that of access to their grandchildren. How can we begin to address their concerns? One approach is to empower grandparents in relation to access to their grandchildren. This can be done not only by therapeutic means but also by educating parents regarding the salience of grandparents to the child's emotional well-being during and after divorce. When adult children are divorcing it is imperative that the family be encouraged to seek out mediators who are sensitive to the needs of the extended post-divorce family system.
Family practitioners, mediators, and legal professionals are in a position to have considerable impact on post-divorce grandparent-grandchild relationships. By embracing the concept of the extended post-divorce family system and adopting a multi-generational approach in post-divorce work, these groups will serve to empower those grandparents whose relationship with their grandchildren is vital to both parties. As we recognize the salience of grandparents in their grandchildren's lives, both before and after divorce, the necessity of actively advocating on behalf of the grandparent population at the point of family divorce, particularly those grandparents who are most at risk of alienation, is critical.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

10 Positive Things I Got Out of My Divorce

When going through a divorce and after it’s final, it is easy to get caught up in all of the negativity. But here are 10 positive things that I got out of my divorce.

1. Holy [crap]! I survived!!
I filed! I fought! And I won! My divorce didn’t kill me, and even though at times it felt like it might, it didn’t.
The pain was real and at times completely overwhelming, but eventually it went away and has made me stronger than I was before. I actually feel alive!
When you are going through a divorce, it’s normal to feel bad about yourself…feeling like the ultimate failure…but you’re not. It takes two to marry and it takes two to divorce. Am I still bitter? Yep…sure am…but I’m stronger because of it.
2. My girls are strong, healthy, and happy.
My girls are strong, healthy, and happy despite the divorce. In fact, I believe that they are stronger, healthier, and happier because of the divorce. They don’t have to feel the tension anymore, hear the arguments, see mommy cry, or see their dad lose his temper and punch the wall.
Children are very resilient, overcoming situations much faster than adults and I think we need to give them more credit! Here is my #1 rule when talking about your ex in front of your kids: always speak nicely of the other parent, even if you hate them. This is an absolute must. I would like nothing more than to tell them that their dad is a self-absorbed asshole, but I don’t. They will learn the truth in time and even though they are still young, they see and understand things more than we realize. Kids are amazing!
3. I am not alone.
“I’m alone and I will die alone because my marriage is over.”  “No one will ever love me again.” These are just a couple of the thoughts I had during my divorce. But the truth is, I’m not alone, never was, and never will be. He left, I filed. It happened. But I have my two beautiful girls, my family, my friends, my co-workers, and even the old guy at the gas station that always stares at my boobs, so how could I even think that I was alone?!
It’s because I was the worst at reaching out and asking for help, but I soon learned that people all around us want to help, they just don’t know how until you tell them what you need. Don’t be afraid to open up to people! And remember, you lost one person in your life…look how many more are still around!
4. Life goes on.
Life goes on and you can do one of two things: you can either dwell in the past while feeling sorry for yourself, which I did for about a month OR, you can learn to live again. Life doesn’t stop just because we are hurting. Go out and experience everything that life has to offer you. Every story has an end but in life every ending is a new beginning.
5. There is sex after divorce.
Yes, I have had sex since my divorce! Yes, it was better than BOB (my battery operated boyfriend)! And yes, I plan on having much, much more! Sex is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, to pump up your self-esteem, it’s good exercise, and it’s so much fun! Have you ever heard that expression, “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else?” Tacky, but it’s not exactly false! Does it make you instantly get over your divorce? No, it doesn’t. But it does make you feel desirable and sexy, and after a divorce, who wouldn’t want to feel that way?
6. It’s OUR home now.
It’s our home…meaning my daughters and mine. Not his. No part of it is or ever will be his again. It’s very liberating to have the freedom to decorate in any way that you want and to do whatever you want without having to ask permission. You can buy pink throw pillows for the couch, eat off of purple plates, or host an all ladies poker party when your kids are with your ex. You can and should make your home into your own little cozy retreat.
7. I am brave.
When you are married, you feel safe. It’s your little world and nothing can burst your perfect little bubble. You might feel safer when you have a big, strong man there to fend off all the bad guys and shoot Bigfoot if he breaks into your house. Why is that? No offense to men, but why do we assume that a man can keep a home safer than a woman can? Want the truth? It’s a load of crap. I sleep with a gun by the bed, pretty sure that I can dial 911 faster than a man, and I’m handy with a baseball bat. So, I’m not afraid of being without a man to protect us because I can protect us just as well.
8. I know who my real friends are.
During and after a divorce, you quickly learn who your real friends are. There are the so-called “friends” that side with the ex and the real friends that stick by your side. This is a positive because it shows you who is really there for you, who you can count on, and who you never should’ve trusted in the first place. Delete them from your social media accounts and your life. You don’t need them! Stick with the people who make a positive influence on your life and genuinely care for you and your children.
9. I’m in control.
I’m the one in control now. In control of my life, my daughters’ lives, and the entire shebang! I choose what I do in my life, every single minute of every single day. I choose. I don’t have to ask permission to do the things I would like to do…I just do them. No one gets to talk down to me or treat me like crap again. NO ONE. And the feeling of having control over your life is wonderful. “FREEDOM” (imagine me shouting this like Mel Gibson does in ‘Braveheart’!)
10. Happiness makes a brighter future.
Once the tears stopped and the divorce fog started to clear, I could finally see the sunshine and blue skies ahead. I felt…happy! I seriously couldn’t even remember the last time that I felt actual happiness within myself.
My kids made me happy every day, but this was different. This was all me! Being happy opens your eyes to the future and what it could hold for you. The possibilities are endless! Well, I probably couldn’t drive up to NASA and join the astronaut program (I don’t look good in helmets), but my life is wide open to whatever kind of change comes my way.

Monday, 29 July 2019

It May Come as a Big Surprise to Discover That You Are a Better Parent Post-Divorce

Being in a toxic marriage sucks the energy right out of you - so there is less available for the children. Youngsters are smart, so may act up to get your limited attention when you are still wed.

After my divorce was finalized, I truly could then focus on my sons. Even my cats seem to appreciate the extra time we spend together post-divorce. I did not realize that being in survival mode meant trying to avoid conflict rather than being spontaneous.

Now my sons and I can be vagabonds traipsing around the planet - budget and time permitting.

Single parenting brings a flexibility which allows going to the cinema on the spur of the moment or indulging in an impromptu picnic. I do not have to check with the other parent or plan events far in advance.

Instead of viewing life as an obstacle course, it is an adventure with serendipitous moments post-divorce.

My sons give this feedback about single parenthood. They claim I listen to them intently now which in turn enables them to feel more valued. We discuss our lives in depth instead of merely skimming the surface as was done pre-divorce.

As a stressed out married mum, I was more of a dictator echoing my German grandfather’s “and that’s that,” instead of hearing what the boys had to say. Although I set boundaries and make the rules - I am more willing to get the lads’ points of view in this new chapter of our lives.

Single parents told me that they became more patient in the post-divorce period and do not get angry over every little thing. Being in a toxic marriage was like having road rage. One is angry in general and perceived infractions can put one over the edge leading to explosions. 

Anger builds walls around people and understanding with compassion tears them down.
Another adjective used after a break up was “relaxed.” Parents said they felt relaxed since no longer doing verbal combat with a spouse in a war zone.

Reduced tension in the home helps the kids to be relaxed too. Relaxed people are easier to be around which encourages more family time in this pleasanter atmosphere. Tension has the opposite effect and scatters family members to their own places of safety.

Post-divorce there was more fun and laughter in our lives. We could even giggle at our mistakes and not take ourselves so seriously. Instead of hiding our screw ups as we did in the past, they were a source of hilarity.

After being a single parent, my sons and I became more open and could admit when we goofed and ask for help and advice from each other. This increased our enjoyment of being together.

As I developed into a stronger, more reliant person, this had the ripple effect on my sons. 

They became more independent and self-reliant.

On this journey of becoming a single parent, my boys were right at my side and we were a source of support to each other. If I had stayed in that bad marriage, I never would have gotten to really know my sons.

If I knew divorce would be such a positive thing for my sons and me, it would have happened much earlier. In the post-divorce period, notice the improved aspects of your relationship with your kids and the positives in this transition.

Friday, 26 July 2019

10 Key Tips to Dating After Divorce

Dating after divorce can be a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be.

Dating after divorce tends to be a deliberate action, entered into consciously and tentatively after years or even decades with the same person. This can be an opportunity for you to clarify your needs and the needs of a relationship before you step out on that first date. The following are my suggestions for your ten commandments of dating after divorce.

One: Your “Must Haves”

Take some time to generate this list; do not assume what it contains. You may be surprised to realize that there are aspects of your ex that you want again or perhaps characteristics that were not important before but are now. For me, my ex was never a match for me physically (I’m not talking about intimacy here; we were an excellent match in the bedroom). I loved to run and lift weights, and enjoyed the social aspect of exercise, whereas he only exercised to lose weight and even then was very private about it. I knew that I wanted someone that would join me on a run or meet me at the gym. I also wanted someone for whom fitness and exercise was a way of life, not just an opportunity to cinch in the belt a bit. As you list your “must haves,” try not to censor them; your subconscious may know more about what you need than your rational mind does at this point.

Two: Your “Must Not Haves”

This list compliments the one above and, in fact, you may find that it is generated at the same time. 

Like with your “must haves,” you may find that some of these are rather concrete and others are vague and hard to define. That is okay. List them. Even the ambiguous will have meaning to you as you meet people. Two of my items on the “must not have” list were 1) cannot be dishonest (uhmm..great. How do I tell this on a date?) and 2) cannot have kids or want kids (I have pretty strong feelings on this one and it’s not fair to start a relationship with someone who does not match me here). Once you have your lists generated, keep them handy and allow them to be modified or updated as you date and meet new people. They are not set in stone, but they are also not be ignored, especially if you find yourself in the biochemical throes of love lust.

Three: Release Expectations and View Each Encounter as a Lesson

This is a big one. First a reality check. Life is not a romance novel nor a Hollywood movie. That insufferably cute and perfect couple at the park is either in the biochemical throws of lust or has another side to their relationship that you do not see. No one is perfect. No date is perfect. No relationship is perfect. Just let that thought go like a helium balloon in the wind.
Still with me?
Not every date you go one will be good, but every date you go one will teach you something. Try to enter every encounter with an open and curious mind, ready to receive the lessons to come. On some dates, you might learn about someone else, some you may learn about yourself, and yet others you may learn about the intricacies of being a private pilot for a billionaire (yup, true story there). If you enter each date excepting a positive experience, you will be disappointed at least some of the time. If you approach the meeting as a lesson, you will never be let down and you will gain valuable (or at least interesting) information in the meantime.

Four: Be True to Yourself

The period after divorce is a vulnerable time. You may feel amorphous as you break out of the box that defined you as a spouse. You may feel that the true you is unlovable and seek to change your identity. It can be so tempting to expand yourself like a pressurized gas let out of a sealed container. Some expansion and growth is normal and healthy, but make sure that you remain true to yourself and your basic beliefs and values. I started out with a “try anything” approach, but I soon realized that there were “anythings” out there that I had no interest in trying.

Five: Take Baby Steps

This one took me some trial and error. I was so used to being married. I did marriage well, whereas I had no clue how to date. In my first few encounters, I would easily settle in and make myself comfortable as though it was a marriage. It was a known and safe place for me, but not exactly an ideal way to date. There is no rush, no race. Learn to find comfort in the process and the path of dating, rather than being focused on a destination. Move slowly enough that you can appreciate each step and acclimate along the way.
This was a lesson that I learned from my current beau of 2+ years. He emphasized the need to progress slowly, pausing along the way like divers coming from the deep. It allowed both of time to become comfortable and provided opportunity to work through issues as they arose. We were able to set up partnership deliberately, not out of my automatic default setting.

Six: Keep Some Distance

It can be easy to be swept away when you meet someone new. It’s exciting and it feels so good to have that feeling reawaken after you may have been fearing its death. Remember that this feeling is temporary, as the hormones fade back to normal levels, that initial rush will fade too. It’s simple biochemistry. Enjoy the rush when it happens, but maintain enough distance that your rational brain has time to communicate its thoughts to you as well. It’s fine (actually, wonderful) to get caught up in a moment, but don’t let that moment turn into a marriage that you do not intend. Keep some distance so that you can make informed decisions about your future.

Seven: Be Open

I know what you’re thinking: “First she cautions me to keep some distance and now she wants me to be open? Which is it?”
Be open to new possibilities. Your new paired life may not resemble the old. Your new partner may be different than the former. You, yourself, will most likely change from how you were in your marriage. Be open and willing to investigate these new alternatives.
But keep some distance so that you can check with yourself to make sure that you do not deviate too far from the true you.
When I first joined, I went out on dates with men that didn’t jive at all with what I thought I liked. I found myself consistently surprised as I found characteristics and attributes attractive that were not on my radar before. If I entered the dating arena with a closed mind, sure of what I liked, I would have never have met those men and learned those lessons.

Eight: Address Your Social Needs

Divorce is alienating. Lonely. The person that you spent most of your time with is gone. You may have lost other friends in the deal or had the nature of friendships slip and slide away. 

Dating is certainly social, but it should not be the only item on your social calender. In fact, I would recommend that you ensure that you identify your social needs ahead of time (2 hours a week? 10? It varies for everyone.) and plan to have 60-80% of those needs met outside of dating. Join a class, sign up for (I swear most of the people I met on Meetups were divorced!), form a social group at the gym…it doesn’t matter how you address your social needs, just don’t put the weight of them at the feet of your dates.

Nine: Have an Outlet

Ever feel angry at your situation? Sad when you think about what you have lost? Ever need to scream? Cry?

Me too. As you enter the dating world, make sure that you have an outlet for these powerful typhoons of emotion. It can be a therapist, a family member, a friend, or even a dog. You don’t have to keep all of your powerful emotions hidden from a date, but you also don’t want to flood him/her with them either.

Ten: Have Fun

Dating is fun. You get to meet new people and engage in new experiences. You get to explore and question, as you see the world in new ways. Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy yourself along the way.


Thursday, 25 July 2019

Ten Steps To Deal With An Impossible Ex.

Help! My Ex Is Manipulating My Children.

Dealing with divorce is never easy. In fact it is probably amongst the most stressful and grueling experiences one can go through. When we get married we start off with a tremendous amount of hope and expectation. Intellectually we know it will take work but it is truly impossible to really know what kind of work it will take until we are already down the path of the marriage. I believe the reason it is difficult to get an idea of what the work of marriage will look like is because I believe it is individual to each marriage and the specific issues which exist between the partners.

Whatever the issues are which end the marriage being divorced can often be harder than it ever was being married, especially if you share children. When divorced couples share children there is no ending to the relationship which makes moving on difficult because the children bind us together for our lives. We not only have to deal with our ex but we have to often deal solely with all the aspects of them that we tried to divorce. This can be the most frustrating aspect to cope with. Here we have divorced this person to get away from their negative traits and we seem to deal more with them post-divorce then we did married.

This is where the children often become the victims because control (especially for the spouse who was left) becomes the big issue in these circumstances. When this happens so often does parent alienation syndrome. If children start distancing from the other parent we can be sure parent alienation is occurring. There is nothing more debilitating emotionally then when our spouse manipulates the children against the other. The loss of one’s children to manipulation is maddening and very difficult to recover from because the children are not old enough or mature enough to really see what is happening.

When our ex is manipulating our children it can be the hardest thing to let go of. There is no greater pain then watching our children being poisoned. We often feel powerless and heart broken. The only cure for this is time. In time children always come to see the bigger picture. When these circumstances occur, which sadly is more often than not, it can feel impossible to keep any balance in our lives or in the lives of the children because there is so much manipulation being inflicted upon them that they cannot see or understand.

When this type of situation is happening there is only one recourse. We have to stay focused on the love we can give our children when we have our time with them. We have to stay focused on our individual lives and make them so strong that we have fulfillment individually which will make us a happier more emotionally available parent. When we have control in our own world it gives the children the space to feel their own emotions and go through their own experience of the manipulation. In scaling back and focusing on our own lives this will not only start to bring stability back into our world but it will also begin to slowly bring stability into the world of the children when they are on our custodial time.

If an amicable relationship cannot be had regardless of our efforts with our ex-spouse then learn how to treat that person as a business. This relationship should be minimized to talking only about the children and their needs. This is not an easy thing to master especially when you are aware the children are being manipulated and decisions regarding the children are being made without our full agreement or consent. We have to keep in mind that there is no way to control our ex’s or what they covertly do to the children emotionally. 
The only thing that can heal that wound will be time. See, the truth is like the cream in coffee it will eventually raise to the surface.

Ten steps to take to make the relationship with your ex a business:

1.) Only communicate the necessary information to your ex regarding the children

2.) Get wages garnished to eliminate money games.

3.) Communicate only through writing so you have a line of documentation if necessary to review with your legal team. If your ex responds to your communication with attack, re-read what you sent and see if you communicated all the necessary information and if so, do not respond to the attack. Be cordial but say very little when in person with your ex.

4.) Become aware of covert tactics and manipulations by your ex. Educate yourself so you can see them so you can avoid getting sucked in.

5.) Repsect the custodial schedule. Minimize asking favors from the ex like switching weekends as this will be held against you in the future. Also respect your ex's time when he/she does not have the children.

6.) If your children have athletic practices on your ex’s custodial times do not attend them. Attend practices on your time and attend all games.

7.) Remember that the children love you both and deserve for you to both love them rather than barter and fight over them. If one partner stops the fighting the other will soon have 
nothing left to fight with and things will calm down.

8.) Refrain from telling your ex how to parent. Let the children experience your ex in the truth of who they are. Manipulation can be hard for the children to see so just be patient…time will heal this

9). Focus on yourself and making your life happy. You have paid your dues.

10.) Stay out of manipulating offers of friendship by your ex when friendship means that you do whatever your ex wants so they won’t manipulate your children. This is extortion not friendship.

These steps will help to clean up the power struggle which often occurs when people divorce. There is a lot of grief adjusting and loss when our nuclear family falls apart and many of us get caught up in being more commintted to our ex’s in fear or in hate than we were ever committed to them in love and this makes the divorce even harder than the marriage. We can only be committed to fearing or hating someone until we decide it is not worth the energy and time. If we have divorced we need to remember why we made this decision. The decision was made in the thoughts of getting our lives back to happy and we did it for the health of our children. Stay with that mindset. We made this decision to make our lives more at peace and more open for love. No matter who our ex is or how difficult they are to deal with it is up to us how much of this we will tolerate or not.

After a divorce it is our time to focus on loving ourselves. Giving ourselves the love we were in drought of in the marriage. We have to find the places, out of the marriage, where we can see freedom. We have to be creative and enter into new adventures. When we have our kids we need to make the world about them with love and discipline, and when they are with our ex we need to let them be with our ex. When we have our alone time we need to take advantage of this time to focus on ourselves by setting some goals and taking the steps to achieve the happiness we chose to find in making the decision to divorce. It is a new time in our lives and a time for us to celebrate and find love again. It is not a time for us to waste all kinds of energy in trying to either control our ex or spending too much time defending ourselves to our ex. If this is happening then we are not free yet. If the manipulation by our ex has given us the feeling that we have lost our children we need to find people who we can love and trust to share our grief with. Find a good therapist and legal team. Be assured that with time children always see the truth.

Advice: Focus on the best interest of your children and focus on the best interest of you. If your children ask you questions answer them honestly. It is in no one’s best interest to stay committed to negativity. Let go. Let go of the need to control, let go of the need to defend and let go of the need to fight. Start to make a list of all the things you would like do and achieve as a single person and make steps each day to reclaim your identity and your life.

When you stop allowing your ex to engage you in drama, you finally sever the last bit of commitment between the two of you. It is a real lesson in humility to do this but it is the one thing that will set you free. At the end of the day we have to let each soul walk its path. The only path you have to focus on is your path. Whether you like your ex as a person or not you will always have to respect that to your children that is their other parent. Not always an easy pill to swallow but those are the facts. When your children see that you accept this it takes pressure off of them to not have to take sides or to feel as if they are somehow flawed and defective if they still love their other parent. Guilt is one of the most covertly manipulative tools used on children.

We all have lessons to learn from the relationships we have, and what we have to trust for our children is that they were meant to have the exact parents that they do or else things would be different. There will be many learning opportunities provided to the children through your ex that they could not get from any other person good or bad. They are meant to have these lessons and so try and back off and trust that. If they come to you in pain be there to understand and comfort them and this will build deep bonds between you and your children based in understanding by experience.

For now, focus on renewal and rebirth. Separate all your emotions from your ex and let them go to be whoever it is they are. If they choose to stay connected to you through their own hate (whether overtly or covertly) then so be it. That is their waste of life and energy and you do not have to engage. Focus on you. Add love to your life. Eat right, laugh, go out with friends, love your new romantic interest if you have one, exercise, sleep well and love your children. That is what life is all about.

Little Life Message: When we take good care of ourselves and our emotions we teach and model our children to the same.


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

From Entitled to Thankful: Raising Children with an Attitude of Gratitude

It isn’t until later in life that most people discover one of the keys to happiness: gratitude. 

The concept of thankfulness can be difficult for adults to embrace, and even harder for children and teens who believe the world revolves around them.
There are so many valuable qualities we want to instill in our children — why should we focus on gratitude? Grateful teens are not only more pleasant to be around, but according to one study, they are also less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, be depressed and have behavioral problems at school.
This isn’t the first study to explore the science of gratitude. In a 2003 study from the University of California, Davis, grateful people reported higher levels of happiness and optimism, as well as lower levels of depression and stress. High school students who score high on gratitude have more friends and higher grades, while more materialistic students report more envy, lower grades and less life satisfaction, according to a study in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
While some people may be blessed with a natural inclination toward thankfulness, for most of us gratitude is learned. By learning gratitude, children become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing their innate capacities for empathy and altruism, whereas entitled kids end up feeling perpetually disappointed.

What Gratitude Is Not

Sometimes in our efforts to instill gratitude, we use approaches that look similar to gratitude but have unintended negative effects:
Threats. Lecturing your child about how spoiled they are or threatening to take away their toys because their room is too cluttered does not teach gratitude.
Comparisons. “Other children would give anything to have what you have” and other comments like these are really comparisons, not lessons in gratitude. This kind of “reverse envy” is more likely to inspire greed and guilt than gratitude.

Indebtedness. Feeling obligated to return a favor or do something nice to get out of another person’s debt is not gratitude. The feeling behind indebtedness is negative and focused on a specific person, whereas gratitude is positive and can be directed toward anyone.

Flattery. Lavishing gifts or compliments on someone isn’t necessarily an expression of gratitude. Thanking people in these ways produces resentment, guilt and a sense of obligation rather than appreciation.

Manipulation. Some people have questionable motives behind their expressions of gratitude. For example, kinds words may be used to manipulate someone into doing something, exert control or secure someone’s loyalty or good favour.

The Recipe for Authentic Gratitude

Most parents want their children to be happy, yet we shower them with gifts, protect them from the natural consequences of their actions and do all kinds of things that actually make them less happy. If we really want our kids to be happy, we need to instill an attitude of gratitude. But how can we instill gratitude in children who are naturally self-centered and growing up in an entitlement-driven society?
Model Gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just a lesson to be taught to children, but alsoan ongoing exercise in learning for parents. Instead of clamoring for the newest gadget, work on being grateful for what you have right now. When interacting with your kids, share frequently and generously and say please and thank you so that good manners are “what we do” not just what we say we do.

Share the Gift of Giving. Experienced parents have learned that the more kids get, the less they appreciate what they have. Receiving gifts can befun, but make sure your children also recognize the joy of giving. Around the holidays, focus on celebrating, making memories and visiting with friends and family rather than who gets the most presents.

Teach Family Values. Many children grow up believing that life is about acquiring money and material possessions. If your family values hard work, saving money and simple joys, make sure your principles are being communicated regularly.

Start a Family Tradition. Make gratitude a habit; for example, by going around the dinner table saying one thing you’re grateful for or reflecting on the day at bedtime, noting the small things you enjoyed.

Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks. The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Even if it takes twice as long or ends up creating another mess, give your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job). Not only will they appreciate that these tasks require effort but they will feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family.

Serve Others. Service can be part of a child’s life from a young age. Get young kids involved in decorating thank-you notes, baking cookies for a friend or donating belongings to less fortunate children — and point out how good it feels to make someone else’s day brighter. With older kids, volunteer at an animal shelter, nursing home or soup kitchen, or figure out a type of charitable work they’re passionate about and offer to help out.

Practice Mindfulness. Kids spend much of their day in front of television and computer screens, too often losing sight of the small but enduring pleasures found in nature and in their interactions with other people. Take time to appreciate the sights, smells and sounds around you, and you’ll model mindfulness for your kids.

You’ve probably heard it said that “happiness is a choice.” While it can be difficult to choose happiness in tough times, research suggests that happiness is, in fact, less the result of circumstance and more the product of our own thinking and habits. In other words, you don’t have to wait until you have the perfect life to be happy — you can choose it right now by focusing on what you’re grateful for and encouraging your children to do the same.


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

7 Financial Management Tips For Anyone Who Just Went Through A Divorce

A divorce is painful, that’s a given. And anybody who has gone through a divorce would admit that if there were anything that would have kept their marriages off a divorce court, they would have readily done it. Divorce obviously affects the children in the union negatively. But apart from that, it affects the couple emotionally, psychologically, mentally and of course, financially.

Yes, divorce hurts the finance and leaves too many loopholes to be filled. Everyone wants a break after a drawn out litigation battle; a break from lawyers and dates and paperwork. But there are still a few things to be done if you want to breathe easy after a divorce.
Life is never really the same after one is freshly single and there will always be those things that remind you of the good times and the bad times you had with your ex, moving on becomes a little difficult, but move on you must! So here are a few tips that could be very helpful to get you to move on while securing your finance as well:

1. Revisit Your Insurance Broker

Contact your insurance broker and update your umbrella liability coverage. Screen Your list of assets scheduled on your homeowner’s policy and screen out the things your spouse received in the divorce also screen them out if they were sold. There is no sense in paying insurance premiums for assets you do not own.

2. Apply for a new credit card

Depending on your situation, it may make sense to apply for new credit cards before you cancel joint accounts. Especially if you have marginal credit and don’t have an emergency reserve of cash.

While credit cards are generally not very good financial helpers, comparing its downsides to what can happen in the short-term if someone does not have sufficient funds to cover their core bills can make it not only desirable, but a priority. A Credit card can provide a temporary bridge fund for you while you get on your feet after a divorce.

Again, you need to make a list of the accounts you had while married, and seek to replace them as soon as possible; Savings accounts, Investment accounts etc.

3. Re-title Your Assets

If you owned any assets jointly with your spouse and that asset was retained by you or received by you in the divorce settlement then you need to re-title them. For instance if you owned your house in a trust with your spouse, you’ll want to re-title it in your name personally or in the name of a new living trust you create.

4. Get familiar with Your Investments

This will apply where your spouse handled the investing, there may now be things you own that you aren’t familiar with or that perhaps aren’t right for you.

You need to do a deep analysis of all your investments to see if it is prudent and beneficial to you financially at the present. Sell off investments that will not help you and retain those that are potentially or presently rewarding.

5. Sell Off Some Valuables and Move On

This tip is reasonable not just because it makes financial sense, but because it also helps you move on while securing your financial future. There might be a few things that you owned jointly that you may need to sell off even if they have or had sentimental value. Resources like makes selling off such valuables more reasonable by giving you a financial advantage.

There are also a few suggestions about what to do with your engagement ring after a divorce for instance, especially if it is the kind of ring either of the Kardashian sisters received which was worth thousands of dollars! You may need to think of selling it and moving on.

6. Consider Moving

Moving from a family house is often an emotional decision, but deciding not to move on the basis of sentiment is “...often the beginning of a very difficult situation because it costs a lot of money and the house is not liquid,” says Pilz.

Since you’ll have to pay for this home with one person’s income, if your budget’s tight, moving to a less expensive home or renting may be a good option to consider. You need to approach it as an investment asset, and you need to make decisions from that context as well

7. Get a new everything

In addition to getting a new account, you might need to make a number of other changes. Divorces can mess up your finance and you will need to re-evaluate your finances in general; what comes in and goes out and what are assets and liabilities, what taxes you now qualify to pay.

You may need to change your will, get a new filing system, and perhaps even get a new name if that will help you sleep better at night.

The point is that a divorce is a major (and sometimes devastating) life change and the earlier and faster you can get back up and on track, the better for you.


Monday, 22 July 2019

6 Toxic Thoughts Smart People Quarantine

Your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can make or break you. When you make a mistake, they either magnify the negativity or help you turn that misstep into something productive.

Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of.

All self-talk is driven by important beliefs that you hold about yourself. It plays an understated but powerful role in success because it can both spur you forward to achieve your goals and hold you back.

“He who believes he can and he who believes he cannot are both correct.” -Henry Ford

TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence. These successful, high EQ individuals possess an important skill⎯the ability to recognize and control negative self-talk so that it doesn’t prevent them from reaching their full potential.

These successful people earn an average of $28,000 more annually than their low EQ peers, get promoted more often, and receive higher marks on performance evaluations. The link between EQ and earnings is so direct that every point increase in EQ adds $1,300 to an annual salary.

When it comes to self-talk, we’ve discovered some common thoughts that hold people back more than any others. Be mindful of y
our tendencies to succumb to these thoughts, so that they don’t derail your career:

1. Perfection equals success. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

2. My destiny is predetermined. Far too many people succumb to the highly irrational idea that they are destined to succeed or fail. Make no mistake about it, your destiny is in your own hands, and blaming multiple successes or failures on forces beyond your control is nothing more than a cop out. Sometimes life will deal you difficult cards to play, and others times you’ll be holding aces. Your willingness to give your all in playing any hand you’re holding determines your ultimate success or failure in life.

3. I “always” or “never” do that. There isn’t anything in life that you always or never do. You may do something a lot or not do something enough, but framing your behavior in terms of “always” or “never” is a form of self-pity. It makes you believe that you have no control of yourself and will never change. Don’t succumb to it.

4. I succeed when others approve of me. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain⎯you’re never as good or bad as they say you are. It’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, but you can take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what people think about you, your self-worth comes only from within.

5. My past equals my future. Repeated failures can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, these failures result from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Just remember that success lies in your ability to rise in the face of failure. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed.

6. My emotions equal my reality. If you’ve read Emotional Intelligence 2.0, you know how to take an objective look at your feelings and separate fact from fiction. If not, you might want to read it. Otherwise, your emotions will continue to skew your sense of reality, making you vulnerable to the negative self-talk that can hold you back from achieving your full potential.

Bringing It All Together

I hope these lessons are as useful to you as they have been to me over the years. As I write them, I’m reminded of their power and my desire to use them every day.


Friday, 19 July 2019

A happier life after divorce

I'll never forget the loan specialist who congratulated me on my divorce.

I was getting a cashier's check from her to bring to the closing on my townhouse, and she asked why I was selling.

"Moving to the suburbs?" she inquired cheerfully

Nope, I told her. Getting divorced.


That was a first. From friends and acquaintances I had heard plenty of, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" And, "I had no idea!" And, "How are the kids holding up?" I had not one single time been congratulated.

I told her as much.

"It usually means a better life is ahead," she assured me.

She was right, of course. But you rarely hear that. Or read that. Or find an expert who will tell you that.

Divorce is messy and painful and expensive and not to be glorified nor entered into lightly. But it can also be the beginning of a more tranquil, authentic, happier — indeed, better — life.

And that's worth telling people.

"The gifts of divorce may take some time to reveal themselves, but there are gifts," says psychotherapist Abby Rodman, author of "Without This Ring: A Woman's Guide to Successfully Living Through and Beyond Midlife Divorce" (Lulu). "One day you wake up and it hits you that you no longer have to manage an unhappy marriage. You no longer have to manage your spouse's unhappiness. That clears the way for more of your own happiness."

Reclaiming priorities

Rodman, who surveyed hundreds of women about their divorces for her book, said very often divorcees rediscover passions they shelved, friends they ignored and talents they allowed to atrophy. This goes for men too, of course.

"A bad marriage corrupts your entire existence," she said. "Once you've extracted yourself from that, you have the opportunity to think about the things in your marriage that didn't work for you. We all make sacrifices in marriage — and we should. But did you make really big ones that you can now revisit? Do you want to go back to school or become a writer or go to church every Sunday? Things maybe your ex-spouse wasn't supportive of? In some ways it's an opportunity for reinvention."

Maryjane Fahey, co-author of "Dumped: A Guide to Getting Over a Breakup and Your Ex in Record Time!" (Sellers Publishing), said it took becoming single for her to focus her energy on her own work.

"My ex, whom I loved deeply, was a brilliant man," Fahey said. "But he didn't live up to his potential as an artist and a writer and I was constantly on him, pushing him. When he dumped me I realized I needed to become the person I was telling him to become. And that's exactly what I've done."

Fahey, who runs her own design and branding firm, included the following quote, credited to author Joseph Campbell, in her book: "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."
"I moved my life goal from being a good wife to saying, 'Hey, what about those projects I've been sitting on?'" she said. "Now that I don't have a man to push, I can push myself. And that's been a really beautiful ride for me."

Creating your next act

A clear-eyed focus on what you want your post-divorce life to look like can help you through the toughest parts of the breakup process, says family attorney Angie Hallier, author of "The Wiser Divorce: Positive Strategies for Your Next Best Life" (Megeve Press).

"It is so important for people to start planning what they want their after-divorce life to look like as they go through the divorce and to make every decision during their divorce through the lens of how it will impact their next life," Hallier said. "This includes being very clear about what their budget will look like, but also focusing on things that will change for the good that cannot be measured — the lack of conflict, the lack of emotional intimacy, pursuing dreams and activities that were set aside during the marriage.

"Creating a vision for your new life is actually easier than staying in a soul-killing marriage," she said. "And your attorney should help you create this vision."

Wise, clear-headed counsel can also help you prioritize your kids' needs, if you're a parent.

"Every part of (your kids') lives will be disrupted to a greater or lesser degree by this decision to change the only life they've known," Hallier writes in her book. "This isn't a reason not to divorce, if divorce is the only way to create a happy, healthy future for yourself and your children. … This is simply a call for you to place your children's needs first in your thoughts, your words and your actions throughout the process. If you can do this, your children will come through divorce in a better place than they were in during a miserable marriage."

Keeping it positive

An eye toward the happier future can also keep you from getting bogged down in revenge fantasies and other toxic energy expenditures.

"Accept who your ex-spouse is and isn't and move forward without wanting revenge and without anger," Hallier said. "Get rid of the notion that this divorce will somehow vindicate you as the one in the right. Certainly there are emotions that have to be dealt with, but if you focus these negative energies on the process of divorce you lose this golden opportunity to reshape your life for the better."

That will likely mean setting aside some old habits and, equally important, embracing some new ones.

"To anyone divorcing, I would tell her or him, 'Dig a little deeper and engage yourself in activities you never thought you'd do,'" Fahey said. "Maybe do a little meditation. Maybe go on a trip on your own. Start to feel your power and the beauty of taking care of yourself inside and out and embrace the wonderful, happy, fabulous, sexy things that can happen when you're alone."

And keep in mind that you're not all that alone.

"There are all kinds of groups and clubs and travel organizations that cater to people who are single or divorced," Rodman said. "We've moved away from the old paradigm to a culture in which nearly 50 percent of people are divorced, and society at large has had to make room for that."

Happiness, after all, can take up a lot of space.


Thursday, 18 July 2019

After Divorce: 8 Tips for Reinventing Yourself

8 ideas to help you shape your post-divorce life.

It's over. You've signed the divorce papers, and the relationship you entered with so much hope is officially dissolved.

Everyone's divorce story is different. Maybe you had been married for decades, maybe just a year or so. Maybe you have children, maybe you don't. Maybe the divorce was your idea and maybe it was your partner's, or maybe you both agreed that separation was best. 

Maybe you're relieved, maybe you're heartbroken -- or a bit of both.
But however you got here, the question now is where do you go from here? And how do you figure out who you are and what you want as a newly single person? What is your new life going to look like, and how do you start moving in that direction?
Here are eight of the first steps:

1. Let yourself mourn.

Nobody gets married thinking, "I sure hope we can get divorced someday!" Even if, by the time you split, the divorce was something you wanted, a divorce still represents a loss.
"Whatever your marriage and divorce experience has been, there will be emotions that have to do with grief," says psychotherapist Florence Falk, PhD, MSW, author of On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone.

"You may feel remorse for what you did or didn't do, or wonder what you did wrong. Don't dwell on those feelings, but make room for them," Falk says. "Loss is loss. There is an empty space where something once filled it up, even if that something may not have been desirable."

2. Work through your feelings.

Don't tote that heavy baggage from your previous relationship into your new life. Find a way to work through the lingering emotions from the demise of your marriage advises psychologist Robert Alberti, PhD, co-author of Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends.

That may mean talking out your feelings with a therapist or focusing your energy in a healthy activity you enjoy. "It's common to sweep these emotions under the table, but you have to work through them or they'll pollute your life going forward," Alberti says.
If you find yourself resisting the idea of therapy, you might want to keep in mind that therapy doesn't mean you have a problem or that you're in crisis. It can be a way to work toward a better life, with someone who has no agenda but YOU.

3. Learn to like yourself.

That may sound cheesy and New Age-y. But the fact is that many people feel a lot of self-rejection after a divorce.

"You might think that there must be something wrong with you if you couldn't make this relationship work," Alberti says. "You have to work on getting confidence and faith in yourself and ability to believe in your own worth."

This is also something you could pursue in therapy, or through Tip No. 4:

4. Rediscover who you used to be.

Especially if you were married for a long time, you may have given up a lot of the things you enjoyed as a single person because they didn't fit with your "couplehood."

Maybe you loved to go out, but your spouse was a homebody. Maybe you always loved going to the theater but your husband hated it.

"What were your hobbies and activities before the marriage? What did you defer in favor of the relationship?" Alberti asks. "Exercising your interest in those again is important to rebuilding yourself."

5. Discover a new side of yourself.

The life-changing period of divorce, though often difficult and unwelcome, holds a silver lining: to shake things up and try on a new lifestyle.

Maybe it's as simple as a pixie haircut after a lifetime of wearing long, flowing locks. Maybe it's trying a new sport, considering a different place of worship, or going back to college.
Maybe you realize that you'd like to move to a new city or even spend a year living in Paris.

Of course, you can't just flit away and throw caution to the wind. Chances are, you have some very real considerations -- kids (if you're a parent), a job, and a budget (which may have been hurt by the divorce).

But chances also are that although you might not be able to do whatever your fantasy is, there may be other changes that ARE within your reach. So don't reject the idea of any change, just because you can't make every change. "As long as the changes you make are healthy and constructive, these are very appropriate," says Alberti. "Think about who you want to be -- the person you were before the marriage, or maybe a new person? What are some of the things you can do differently?"

Look for changes you can say yes to, instead of dwelling on what's out of reach.

6. Dare to be alone.

Being alone doesn't mean being isolated and never seeing anyone. It just means not being coupled up, or in a rush to do so. Society is much more accepting of singles than even a decade ago, when solo restaurant diners often got the hairy eyeball.
"There are more than 30 million people living alone in this country today," Falk says. "That's a lot of people, and there are a lot of opportunities for social connection. There are possibilities to pick up new friends and enter different kinds of groups that have to do with your interests. The social dimension after a divorce can be very rich."

7. Consider transitional relationships.

This isn't about rebounding. It's about considering dating (once you feel ready) outside your comfort zone -- someone who's not your type -- without thinking that it has to head toward a permanent relationship. "For example, maybe you've always dated people from a certain socioeconomic background," Alberti says. "Or perhaps you always preferred sensitive musicians, or athletes, or the quiet, shy type. Turn your usual preferences inside out and stretch your dating horizons a bit."

8. Embrace your new roles.

Especially if you were coupled up for a long time, your partner probably handled certain aspects of life while you managed others. Now it's all up to you. And it's not likely to go perfectly, but that's OK. "If your partner was always the one responsible for the money -- earning it, managing it, investing it -- suddenly you have a whole new realm of learning and responsibility," Alberti says. "Dealing with those can give you confidence in your own ability."
You don't have to figure it all out yourself. Look for help.

"Even if you make mistakes, like paying too much for a car, you can learn from that experience," Alberti says. "Mistakes give you life skills and teach you that you can handle being alone."