Thursday, 31 October 2019

5 Reasons Not to Bad-mouth the ‘Other Parent’

For the kids’ sake, resist the urge to speak ill of your former partner.

Splitting up? No matter what twists and turns highlight your divorce or breakup saga, one truth emerges: The same problems that ultimately killed your relationship will probably continue.

Of course, breakups are infinitely more complicated when kids are involved. Essentially, there’s no “forever breakup,” because – ideally – you’ll always share responsibility for your kids. And while celebrities flout their no-conflict co-parenting arrangements, the rest of us grapple with nasty disputes over schedules, finances and life changes no one anticipated. Think about it. If you and the other parent had been able to negotiate, compromise and communicate about tough issues, it’s fairly certain you’d still be together.

Parenting is the toughest job around, and post breakup, both parents are in a difficult spot. You’re either trying to do the best for your kids cooperatively with someone you no longer want to share your life with. Or your former partner – the other parent – only sporadically accepts or deliberately abandons parental responsibilities.

If the other parent choses the irresponsible low road, you’re left with unexpected and staggering responsibilities. You understandably feel angry and frustrated. But always remember that kids figure out the other parent in their own time and in their own ways. They may not say it directly, but kids know which parent unselfishly loves and protects them and which parent skirts or ignores responsibilities.

Savvy single parents – despite painful breakup drama – recognize that bad-mouthing the other parent is never the right parenting choice. Here’s why:

Change is hard. Every breakup involves change. Your kids struggle with often unwelcome changes, too. Change can mean a new home, a different school or simply getting used to seldom seeing both parents together. Hearing a parent rant about things kids can’t understand or control leaves them feeling helpless and confused.

You’re the role model. We all struggle to manage uncomfortable feelings. If your kids witness you repeatedly venting anger or frustration without regard for their feelings, such experiences won’t be forgotten. Profanity and other careless language are quickly learned when modeled by a parent.

Online counts, too. Online support groups are often helpful. Counting on the privacy of such groups, however, may not be a wise choice. Anyone with sufficient motivation can obtain online information. Think about your own circumstances and possible consequences before you chime in. Finding a well-qualified therapist, keeping a journal or joining an in-person support group may prove better options.

You must heed the facts of life.
All kids eventually realize they’re the biological half of the other parent. If one or both parents have been labeled a liar, cheat or something equally horrid, the damage to your kids’ sense of control can be significant.

Kids are not confidants. Sometimes single parents defend “talking truth” about the other parent because they fear their kids will somehow never make sense of what happened in their lives. So, they feel somehow justified in giving their kids a play-by-play report of what the other parent did or didn’t do. Such parental oversharing burdens your kids. And it doesn’t improve the situation or make you feel better. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the adult emotional support you need and deserve.


Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Reducing Divorce Anxiety through Journaling

Find Relief from Divorce Anxiety with Journaling

Nothing rouses the anxiety monster like divorce. You’ll do anything to run away from it. Drugs? Exercise? Meditation? Here’s my secret weapon to combat divorce anxiety: journaling.

Journaling? No kidding. It’s a surefire way to kill the demons of doubt. It’s what kept me sane last week during a cross country move where I had left old friends, old loves, old familiar places, picked up sticks in California and started all over again in the Midwest. I was terrified. Was I too old to make this move? Can I make new friends? What if my business doesn’t translate to the new environment? Journaling for the last three years helped remember see why I was leaving. It showed me that I was a lot stronger than I even realized. It reassured me that the hardest part was starting – and that the rest would fall into place. It swept away much of my anxiety. I relaxed a little more.

Here’s why journaling is so critical to dashing the anxiety demons during divorce recovery.
Your brain is struggling to keep up with your new emerging identity. As it searches for answers, you experience emotional ups and downs that feel foreign and frightening. One thing is for sure: The rollercoaster of emotions in divorce happens so fast that you’re left with little time to remember if you’ve felt this way in the past. Each day seems to be a new experience. New thoughts, new memories, new coping skills, new situations. You find yourself crying out, “I don’t know how to deal with this. I’ve never felt like this before."
Anxiety is high. You try yoga, meditation, more exercise, and endless “processing” conversations with friends. None of them seem to help. Off to the doc you go. Valium, Ativan, Xanax, or Klonopin to the rescue! You’d rather not take these drugs, but they seem to be the only antidote that works for your spiking anxiety.

Prescription Drugs Don't Have to Be the Answer to Your Divorce Anxiety

Before you wash down those pills, consider a better alternative: daily journal entries. As I’ve worked with clients going through divorce over the years, I’ve seen that as little as 10 minutes every day (preferably first thing in the morning), keeps life balance and decreases anxiety - without the litany of anti-anxiety drugs.

Don’t be intimidated by the term “journaling.”It simply means dumping your thoughts out of your brain and unto the written page. (By the way, writing by hand seems to be slightly more effective than typing on a computer, but use whichever method works best for you.)
You don’t have to write much. With only one or two short paragraphs a day, you’ll be recording your fears as well as solutions for handling crises. You’ll be documenting patterns and coping mechanisms that worked for you (or didn’t work) over time. Then, days, months, weeks, or years later you can return to your notes and see that you’re stronger than you realized – and that you’ve faced similar situations and worked through them in the past. Your anxiety will start to drop. It’s soothing and comforting to be your own cheerleader and witness your own successful actions. You’ll find yourself saying, “I did this before. I can do it again!”

Why Does Journaling Help With Divorce Anxiety?

Here why journaling during the divorce process is vital to your recovery. With such a great return for such little effort, there’s no excuse for waiting. Start today.

  1. Your brain believes everything you tell it. Writing reinforces it. Repetition makes it stronger. When you write out these positive actions you’ve taken: resolutions you’ve made, decisions for letting go, mental reconstruction of your spousal history – to understand how you got to this place, you get a double bang for your buck in your brain. The initial thinking and writing digs a big commitment pattern in your brain. Re-discovering and re-reading it in a former similar entry cements it. A note of caution: your brain doesn’t discern positive from negative thoughts or actions. Yes, dump the negative stuff on the paper as well, but give more shelf space to bigger, self-confidence building thoughts and processes.
  2. Your brain craves routine and rewards you for the effort by relaxing. Central command above your shoulders (your brain) is scanning the horizon for recognizable repeated daily actions in your life. (Again, red flag: it doesn’t take preference over good or bad habits, which is why destructive habits are so tough to crack.) During divorce, routine can easily turn to chaos. You can reverse that by journaling first thing in the morning or at the same time every day. After several days, your brain will be thrilled to have one event it can count on, and you’ll be looking forward to it. You’ll relax during journal time. It’s one small, predictable event that you can count on. Less anxiety and more sanity.
  3. You’ll see patterns and ideas that you want to revisit and repeat, as well as those that you can finally let go. Journaling lets you see the paths you want to travel again, and those with “Danger! Do not retrace these steps!” You can make the conscious choice to work with the actions that helped you, and avoid the trap of disastrous choices you made previously.
  4. Journal writing is like having your own internal therapist. Like working with a good therapist, you leave the session with less anxiety, but you don’t have to pay for it.Your self-confidence begins to rise as you move forward with life choices based on what’s best for you, from your own experience. You understand the ebb and flow of patterns from reading your own observations of your life.
  5. One tip when you have nothing to say: We all have days when words escape us. Experts tell us to simply write the word writing over and over again. Thoughts may come, or not, It doesn’t matter. There'll be other prolific days to make up for it. The point is that you’re reassuring your brain that this new habit will continue, no matter what.

Let’s face it. Divorce is hard, no matter how amicable or destructive yours might be. During the divorce process, it’s normal to vacillate through emotions – one day you’re high on your newfound freedom, the next day you’re low on your loneliness, and the next day you’re re-examining your life with your ex - trying to make sense of your break-up. You feel 
disconnected. Journaling can help reduce the divorce anxiety without drugs – or at the very least, help you take less drugs.

Learning to be your own best friend during divorce and strengthening your self-determination is critical to faster healing. Invest a few minutes a day journaling, and soon you’ll be able to read your old entries and say, “Oh, right! I remember how I did that." You’ll catapult yourself to a new place of strength.

Stop by any drug store or office supply and grab a lined notebook. Start journaling tomorrow morning. Over the next week, watch your anxiety decrease along with the valium doses. Stand ready for clearer thinking and new found self-determination.

Journaling is your new weapon for conquering divorce-induced anxiety!


Monday, 28 October 2019

"Making it work as a single mom of 3 boys"

'I LOVE being a mom, I love watching them grow... they astonish me daily'

Recently, we published a story You can be a happy divorced family. This Parent24 reader responded, telling us about her experience and the journey she's taken on with her three sons.

"I am a single mom with three boys. I was separated while pregnant with my third, and even when we were together, my ex would be gone for 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.

"Anyway, I think back to those times now, and it only made me stronger and more ready to deal with divorce and raising kids alone.

"My first was a hard won baby, almost 4 years in the making, my miracle boy. When he was 9 months old, I discovered that I was pregnant with baby no. 2, my first two are only 18 months apart.

This was not going to be easy...

"We were very happy, my first was such a dream and having another did not scare me at all. I knew that it was by no means going to be easy with an 18 month old and a new born, but I felt ready.

"Well, my second was/is a very difficult child, from the womb I could feel him constantly moving and jumping. Sometimes, it feels like we have a daily battle of wills, him and I, and I don’t always win!

"Hence, when I discovered that I was pregnant with baby number three, I cried and cried and cried. How was I going to cope? Single with a 3.5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a newborn? But my baby was just the pudding, he fit right into our already established routine.

Let them get involved

"The absolute key: do not alienate the other children when a new one comes along, keep the children involved. We would all sit on the three-seater couch while I breastfed, bonding together. They all bathed together, dressed together, went to bed together, changed nappies together, got muddy together... you get the picture.

"Frankly, it was so much easier for me to work it this way, they just loved being totally involved in everything.

"I also gave up fighting to keep them in their own beds. The baby was in the cot pushed up next to my bed, and often, my other two would crawl into the bed with me sometime during the night. Getting them back into their beds was not worth the fight or the loss of sleep. And they won’t do it forever, they will grow out of it.

"My second still gets into my bed during the night on occasion, but there will come a time when I will have all the time I please to sleep, and will miss the nightly cuddles.

'I work hard to keep our heads above water'

"I am a full time mom, I work full time, I have to be super organized to get through my days. Yes my social life is non-existent, I rarely go out, but I prefer to go home to my boys and spend as much time as possible with them.

"I do not have the luxury of being home by 5pm everyday. I work hard to keep our heads above water, and to give them all the opportunities that they would have with a father in the house and the added income.

"I try and keep a good balance between it all, another key to keeping a happy home, and of course, a happy mom. Time is precious, and it goes by so fast.

'I know I am strong enough'

"For me, it was dealing with the here and now, always being prepared, and continuing with routine. Don’t think too much.

"On the rare occasion that I do have time alone, if I allow myself to think too much about the massive task still ahead of me, I start to feel totally overwhelmed. But I know I am strong enough, I will keep my head up and keep forging on.

"I LOVE being a mom, I love watching them grow, and I love the things that come out of their mouths; they astonish me daily.

"I can’t wait to get home to them."


Friday, 25 October 2019

Why I’m Proud To Be Divorced

Whether it’s meeting new people, spending time with extended family during the holidays, or just having a conversation with my hairdresser, I usually mention my first marriage and subsequent divorce 11 years ago at one point or another.


Well, I’m not ashamed of it, that’s why. And it just happened to be one of the greatest lessons of my life.

I wear my mistakes like badges. I write about them fervently because time is of the essence. I’m only here on this earth for a limited time and the experiences I’ve lived through have a right to be passed on.

There’s almost always a lesson that I’m learning, even 11 years after my divorce, that’s relevant or useful to other people who I come across in my travels.

It’s not that I can’t let go of the relationship itself - because I have - and I’m actually joyful that the marriage ended after many difficult years. It’s what I took away from the experience that I can’t help but bring up time and time again.

Even today, I am absorbing the total effect that the experience of “failing” at marriage had on me. And on the surface, I did fail — miserably. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I gave that relationship my heart and soul and — ultimately — my peace of mind.

I was married at 24 and divorced by 27. Add three years of living together prior to marriage and that’s six years of slugging away at a relationship that was plainly doomed from the start. But I’m not going to hide in the shadows of divorce shame.

I’ve blogged about the experiences of my first marriage, including domestic abuse and drug addiction. At the end of the day, the lessons I learned about myself, the depth of my strength, and my vulnerabilities are absolutely priceless.

I’m proud and excited to talk to other people — especially younger women — about what happened in my first marriage and how I dealt with life after the divorce. Knowing that my prior naivety and suffering can be an “aha moment” for someone who may be in a relationship that’s not working — or even an abusive relationship — is 100% totally and completely worth it.

I often say that I don’t subscribe to regret. What I mean by that is that even though there are things that happened to me or mistakes I made that I’d rather forget, I can’t repress them. Those memories will come back around no matter what, so why not be proactive and turn those difficult experiences into a valuable life lesson that someone else can gain knowledge from?

I’ve said that I love my mistakes. I adore them as if they are my children. But they make me angry sometimes. They remind me of unfortunate choices I made and heartache that once tore me apart. But I’m still going to carry them with me, caring for them and nurturing them until that misery becomes a smile either for myself or someone else.

Everything I am today I owe to my younger, brasher, uninformed, hopeful, kind, and impulsive self. She made me who I am today, sitting here writing about it. She existed and her mistakes existed. I’m not going to erase everything she was just because divorce is — to most people — a failure.

I can say that the younger version of myself tried her hand at love, gave it her all, loved unconditionally, and when all was said and done, she broke through as substantially a stronger mold than she was before.

In my second marriage today, I’m going through experiences that I’ll be able to draw upon several years from now. It’s not so much that hindsight is 20/20 but it’s more like hindsight gives more meaning to past experiences that seemed to be senseless or confusing at the time. Sometimes the painful lessons we learn in the past end up being valuable tools for the future.

Horrible mistakes and experiences are definitely regrettable but that doesn’t mean you have to live a life of regret on a daily basis. Own those mistakes. Make them work for you now.
It’s time.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

What to Do When You Feel Lost After Divorce

Divorce is tough for many reasons. Not only are we dealing with the emotions and logistics and finances, but after the dust has settled, we may feel like our life’s plans have changed direction. The life you planned and your vision of the future may disappear, leaving you with a feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go from here.

But when you feel like this, don’t panic! There is merely one thing you must remember:

You May Feel Lost Because Your Internal GPS is No Longer Working

So many of us had our entire lives invested in our marriage and our families. It was the lens with which we viewed the world. Our concept of being a spouse and a partner was our GPS. Whatever decisions we made through our marriage — whether they were personal or professional — were seen within the context of, “Well, is it good for the marriage and is it good for the family?

When your marriage ends, that GPS and final destination are thrown out the window. But that doesn’t mean that you are destined to wander around in the dark.

We feel like we’re merely surviving and have not yet given ourselves the gift of dreaming again. We are so busy with dealing with the daily roller coaster of emotions and figuring out logistics and finances that we forget to do the one thing we must do.

Identifying that vision becomes our new final destination. And until we identify that vision for ourselves and then take the steps to get there, it is impossible to move forward.

You can go on auto-pilot and go through the daily motions of life, but it will be very hard to move on and reclaim the happiness you deserve unless you figure out your vision, and have a plan to get there. You must do this for yourself.

Need a little help? Here’s an exercise to start on getting rid of your roadblocks. Ask yourself the following questions.

What Do I Want?

If that question seems overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be! Some answers can be as simple as saying, “I want to be happy in my home,” or “I want to feel confident again.”

What is Stopping Me from Getting What I Want?

The things that are stopping us — the obstacles to our vision — are the daily BS things that we face and frustrate us. I want you to list those. Be honest and complete, but don’t spend too much time getting caught up in the obstacles. I know for me, those obstacles included the following:

What’s stopping me?

I am staying in the home although he has left, but I don’t know how to shake the feeling that he is still “here.” There are pictures of us together, some of his books are here, and I feel like everything just seems frozen in time.

What’s stopping me?

I didn’t feel great when we were having marital troubles, but now that I’m alone, I feel like my self-esteem is completely gone. I feel like I don’t have any purpose and it’s awful. How do I rebuild?

Once you have a few of those obstacles in mind, the fun part begins. You are going to learn how to kick those obstacles out of the way by coming up with an easy plan that erases them and gets you closer to your destination.

Start Overcoming Those Obstacles by Writing Down What You Plan to Do

You don’t need some crazy battle plan. It doesn’t need to be a PhD dissertation. All you need are some simple steps that you can start taking today. If you need some help, look at the quick plans I created for myself when I felt lost after my divorce.

Life After Divorce: An Obstacles-Be-Gone Plan

I am not feeling great about myself right now. There are several things I can do to change that. If I am not already seeing a therapist, or one that I really like, I will start searching and asking for recommendations to find someone who can work through this process with me.

I am also doing to do things for myself for a change. I am going to list things that I like to do – hobbies, physical activities — and will put them on a calendar so I remain accountable and committed to doing the things that I love. It’s time to put myself first.

The Road Ahead

Following this plan means you have done two awesome things for yourself. First, you now have something that sticks — something you can use to help boot out those silly roadblocks that are up in your face.

And second, you now know where you want to be. You have the vision of knowing what you want. You have identified your final destination. When you know your final destination and the steps to get there, nothing can stop you.


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Do You Love Your Kid More Than You Hate Your Ex?

”Mom, are most divorced people like you and Dad, or do they usually hate each other?”

My son Caden and I are driving to a movie, just the two of us. Somehow, the other five children in our blended family are otherwise occupied, and we’ve ended up alone on a rare mother-son date. We’re both delighted - Caden for the one-on-one attention and me for the opportunity to hear what’s on his heart.

“I don’t know,” I say. “What do you think?”

“I think most divorced people hate each other.”

Caden keeps talking, cheerfully telling me about other kids in his middle school who act as their parents’ referees, message-relayers and peacemakers. He tells me about adults fighting on phone calls, kids anxious about custody exchanges, and friends who worry they’re clinically depressed. He’s in the seventh grade.

“Why don’t you and dad fight like that?”

I get this question often, though not from my children. Usually I get it from adults, looking for the magic reason my ex-husband Billy and I are friendly. Perhaps we had an easy divorce? No? There must be something unique about us, something that sets us apart from other divorced couples. The implication is that we are much too friendly to be a “real” divorced couple.

The truth is, there isn’t anything different about Billy’s and my circumstances. Our divorce was painful. We each hurt and blamed the other for our pain. We felt alone and rejected and as though we had failed life’s most important task - forming a family.

I tell Caden the truth. “Dad and I don’t fight because we decided early in our separation to make our divorce one wound.”

I can tell by the side-eye look he shoots me that he doesn’t understand, so I continue. Tween boys aren’t likely to ask additional probing questions, after all, and I want him to understand this.

“When we decided to end our marriage, we knew it would hurt the three of you. We knew it would be very hard for all of us. We also knew that we could hurt you once, and then each move on to finding our own happiness separately, or hurt you lots of times. Some parents hurt each other and their kids lots of times by staying together when their partnership doesn’t serve them anymore. Some parents keep hurting their families after they separate by fighting on every topic that comes up - time spent at each house, clothing, vacations.”

He’s listening.

I continue, telling him for the first time that Billy and I didn’t speak for months after we separated. He doesn’t remember that. I tell him, briefly, about the arguments we had when he and his brother and sister had fallen asleep. I share that even then, Billy and I agreed on one thing: the divorce would be the one big painful hurt we caused our children. We were united as a team on that goal, made in therapy as our marriage dissolved. Even when we were on opposite ends of seemingly every spectrum, we agreed on that topic.

“Dad and I still sometimes disagree. We’re different people. You know better than anyone, because you live with both of us. Our styles are different. We like to do different things. We discipline you differently. Dad interacts with Stephanie differently than I interact with Gabe. But we agree on the most important thing: you. We agree to coparent because it is what’s best for you.”

“Dad and I love you too much to ever hate each other.”

I remind him that hating his dad would mean I hated half of his heart. Filling my head and heart with anger about Billy would cloud the happy memories I have of our marriage, and the beginning of my adventures in motherhood. Choosing hatred instead of love would color the start my children’s story.

I’m human, of course. I don’t have only happy memories of our time together. I often disagree with my ex, even when I put the kids first and appear as a united team. I am confident he feels the same way: I can sometimes still catch the edge in his tone when he thinks I’m pushing too hard on something. Our history is messy, filled with hurt and anger. We’re divorced, after all. We chose not to continue hand-in-hand.

But we chose to coparent. We chose, each of us independently and even when we seemingly couldn’t agree on the color of the sky, to keep working as a team. Even when it got messy and complicated and seemed impossible, we kept trying. We looked at the three people we love most and let that love unite us. Our team goal is the same as any other family’s: keeping our children safe and whole.

Billy and I didn’t fail at forming a family when we divorced. Our commitment to our parenting partnership and our children’s childhood means we are forever united. We chose the path that kept our children healthiest and happiest in the long run, and we chose it together. In that way, we are like so many parents who remain married. Our choice to coparent peacefully binds us together.

Coparenting peacefully may seem like a lofty goal. You may not be in that place today. Your partner may seem miles away. I understand; Billy and weren’t always there. But coparenting peacefully is possible. Even for the couples who hurt the most. Even for couples who are miles apart. Start small. Love your babies and start today.


Tuesday, 22 October 2019

How to Win Your Next Co-Parenting ‘Conversation’

These 5 tips will help you feel victorious!

Making the transition from one half of a married couple with kids to being a co-parent is tough. One part of you never wants to see – much less communicate – with your ex ever, Ever, EVER again!

But another part recognizes that your ex is your kids’ other parent. And this part knows that your co-parent will be part of your life F.O.R.E.V.E.R…

You’ve got (at least) these two different perspectives warring within yourself every single time you have to interact with your ex. Every contact is a battle for you. And it’s got you completely stressed out.

You flinch when you hear your phone notify you of a new text. Your blood pressure soars when you see an email from her in your inbox. And when you know you’re going to see your co-parent you hardly recognize yourself.

The unhappy truth is that even though you’re not married any longer, your ex is still controlling you. And because she’s controlling you, she’s winning and you’re losing. Losing is not what you need right now. You’ve already lost enough with the divorce.

So it’s time to take control back, to get strategic about your co-parenting conversations, and to start winning again!

These 5 tips will help you feel victorious when you need to interact with your ex:

Limit conversations to only those necessary for conducting the business of co-parenting.
One of the most difficult parts of communicating with your ex is the emotional toll it takes on you. And the more you communicate the more painful it is. So limit your conversations to ONLY discussing co-parenting issues.

Decide on how you will communicate with your spouse.
There’s no way you’re going to get out of communicating with your ex because it’s a critical part of co-parenting, but you can choose how you will do it. Not every conversation needs to be through text or by phone. Decide what types of information sharing needs to happen by text, by phone call, by email, or in person.

Ideally, you’ll make this determination with your ex. However, if you need to do this on your own, do it today. Then, politely and firmly inform your ex of what you’ve decided. (She might test your resolve on holding to your decision and she might honestly forget what you’ve told her, so be ready for these situations.)

Decide when you will communicate.
Unless there’s an emergency, there’s no need for you to jump to respond to your co-parent right when she reaches out to you. You can choose when it makes sense for you respond. For example, you might want to set up a separate co-parenting email address and only check that inbox once a day for messages from your ex.

And if you’ve already implemented the first tip you’ll know when you have to respond to something immediately.

Be business-like in your communication with your co-parent.
Choosing to interact with your ex in a business-like way and only for the purposes of co-parenting will go a long way toward helping you feel more in control of yourself and the communications.

(Business-like communication means that you’re brief, informative, friendly, and firm. To learn more about BIFF communication, check out Bill Eddy’s book on the topic.)

Visualize how you want to behave before you interact with your ex.
You probably go over every interaction with your co-parent that you feel like you’ve lost a million times thinking about how you could’ve or should’ve said or done things differently.
And what happens when you do this? You feel like sh*t.

Instead of beating yourself up for what has already happened, start imagining yourself behaving differently the next time you have to interact with her.

You might picture yourself using the irritating way she looks at you as a positive trigger instead of the negative one it is now when it makes your blood boil. Instead, imagine that when she looks at you that way you feel thankful you’re not still married to her. Then you can see her as just your children’s other parent who needs to be as good a parent as she’s capable of being because your children deserve that. And once you see her like that, you can easily imagine yourself interacting with her in a business-like manner because you’re doing it for your kids.

Repeat your visualizations of how you want to interact with your co-parent often. The more you imagine interacting with her in this new way, the more natural it will be for you to behave that way.

There’s nothing easy about learning how to co-parent. You’ll still have “conversations” with your ex as you begin using these 5 tips. And you may still feel like you’re losing some of them.

But persevere and be patient with yourself as you develop the skills to fully adopt each of these new ways of communicating with your co-parent. The rewards for doing so are that you’ll start feeling like more victorious and in control. But even better, your kids will win big because they’ll have at least one parent who sees themselves as a co-parent and not a battle-weary ex who is also a parent.


Monday, 21 October 2019

What to Say About an Absent Dad

"Dad questions" come suddenly and at unlikely moments.

Unfortunately, there are no magic answers to your kids' questions because the circumstances that lead to solo mothering differ widely.

For some moms, solo motherhood was a deliberate life choice. Such moms may have used reproductive technology or simply planned their pregnancies with a cooperative partner. 
Other women become solo moms by chance. What began as a shocking surprise evolves into a welcome and life-changing event. Divorced moms often cope with dads who are only inconsistently present or entirely absent in their kids' lives. Other divorced dads rush into another relationship and create "new" families that sadly – and predictably – don't include the kids from a previous marriage. Exclusive relationships sometimes break up leaving the mom unexpectedly and disproportionately responsible for raising the kids.

If you feel angry or upset just anticipating these questions, make addressing your own emotional needs a priority.

Begin by writing down exactly what fuels your anger or brings tears to your eyes. Express your disappointments, regrets and sadness over how your expectations were never met. To add a healing and ritualistic touch, consider shredding or burning what you've written. If you decide to keep what you've written, take care your kids don't inadvertently stumble upon your private writings. If you chose to vent your feelings online, that's your personal choice.

No matter what path you choose, it's challenging to express and sort out painful feelings. If you feel overwhelmed or increasingly upset, seek help through a support group or from a mental health professional. Taking these brave steps forward will ensure you'll be ready to answer your kids' inevitable questions about their dad.

Here's what you need to know to get ready:

Know what to expect. Most kids begin asking Dad questions around the age of 4 or 5. Before that, kids believe all families are just like theirs. Kids at this age begin to notice different types of families at day care and at neighborhood or extended family gatherings. Of course, media influence kids' perceptions, too.

Begin the conversation by talking about what makes your family unique. Build on your kids' observations by talking up the unique advantages and positive qualities of different family types. Celebrating differences in other families sets the stage for your talks about your own unique family. Instill in your kids respect for the life choices other people make.

Keep your conversations age-appropriate. Stick to basic facts. Keep your explanations simple. Your kids are unlikely to understand what commitment, trust or intimacy mean. Reveal more information slowly as your kids mature. Avoid changing the subject when their questions persist or are posed at inopportune times. Kids often ask the same questions repeatedly. It's fine to say you simply don't know or to turn the question around and ask your kids what they think might be the answer. Above all, listen patiently to encourage your kids to talk about their feelings.

Don't lie. Lying never works. When kids eventually discover the truth, the loss of a present and loving dad will be compounded by their loss of trust in you.

Strive to remain positive. Keeping your message positive will be incredibly demanding, especially if their dad is neglectful or routinely dodges his responsibilities. Kids who have been neglected or abandoned will express rage, hurt and anger. Comfort them as only a mother can. Resist the urge to say things which may be factually true, but terribly hurtful to your kids.

Think long term. Staying positive to protect your kids requires all the strength and maturity you can muster. Look for opportunities to say positive and truthful things about their dad. Keep in mind that everything you say about Dad becomes part of how your kids view themselves. So, when you take the high road, your kids gain added measures of happiness and confidence. Think of harsh words about their dad as sharp arrows. Protect your kids from such wounding words just as you would protect them from physical danger.


Saturday, 19 October 2019

Children Without Fathers Are Likelier to Be Stressed

When a father is not physically present in a child’s life — due to death, divorce, incarceration or another reason — the child is more likely to have shorter telomeres, a part of human DNA that’s linked to stress and disease.

In the groundbreaking new study, researchers from the University of Princeton found that, at age 9, children who were in a fatherless situation had telomeres that were 14 percent shorter on average than other children whose fathers were not absent.

Telomeres, which mark the end point of a chromosome, “are thought to reflect cell aging and overall health,” report the researchers. The main job of telomeres is to protect DNA after a cell divides. Other studies have implicated shortened telomeres with heart disease and cancer.

To gain their findings, the Princeton researchers analyzed a group of about 5,000 children whose health and social status have been under observation for more than a dozen years. While they found that the absence of a father was linked to shorter telomeres no matter the cause, the most significant impact appears to occur in situations where the father has died. In that case, telomere length was 16 percent shorter on average.

The researchers surmise that financial hardship and emotional duress may be contributing to the children’s stress marks in their DNA.

“The father is being removed from the life of the child and that is plausibly associated with an increase in stress, for both economic and emotional reasons,” said Notterman, a senior research scholar and lecturer with the rank of professor of Molecular Biology.

The researchers discovered that the biggest adverse impact occurred among boys who lost their fathers before the age of 5. Overall, the impact on boys appears to be of a larger magnitude than on girls.

The study holds wide implications for public policy, notes Notterman.

“The fact that there is an actual measurable biological outcome that is related to the absence of a father makes more credible the urgency of public policy e
fforts to maintain contact between children and fathers,” he said.

Such social policy, such as high incarceration rates, would inevitably come into scope given the short-term negative impact that an absent father has on a child.

“The importance of these findings for research on the social sources of health — and health disparities — in the United States can hardly be overstated,” said Christopher Wildeman, an associate professor of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and the co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect.

“By showing that three causes of paternal absence decrease telomere length, a core biological indicator of health, the authors are able to provide insight into a direct biological channel through which paternal absence could affect the health of their children,” Wildeman added.

Notterman also hopes that the study gives public policy experts more insight into challenging and complex life situations faced by many children throughout the United States.

“We all know that resources are limited and are becoming more limited,” Notterman said. “But by understanding that a social and familial phenomenon — the loss of a father — has biological effects which are plausibly linked with the future well-being of a child, we now have a rationale for prioritizing resource allocations to the children who are most vulnerable.”


Friday, 18 October 2019

The Differences in Divorce for Men and Women

The divorce rate for a first marriage in America is between 40-50%. After a first divorce, the common assumption is that a second marriage will fare better from previous learned experience. The divorce rate for a second marriage is between 60-67%. Although many people who have divorced twice continue to marry again, the success rates are not in their favor. The divorce rate for a third marriage increases to roughly 70%.

Couples with children have a slightly lower rate of breaking up, but divorce impacts more than just the children. Both wife and husband are greatly impacted by divorce. They suffer in both similar and different ways depending on their gender.

Feelings of loss that commonly occur in both husbands and wives can include:

  • Depression. This can frequently cause a lack of ambition or feelings of guilt. Both parties may lose interest in activities they once loved doing.
  • Anger. Unresolved resentments may arise. When trying to “hold the peace”, many conflicts remain invisible. Once the divorce is set in motion, many feel the need to air secrets they’ve kept out of conservation for the marriage.
  • Jealousy. Even if a spouse was not involved in an extramarital affair, the knowledge that he/she may be dating can lead to powerful emotions. If the couple remains in the same town, they may find themselves bumping into their ex with another partner. These incidents can fester for a significant amount of time.
  • Anxiety. With divorce comes change and most people fear the unknown. The majority of couples move out of their house. They may move to an entirely different location or they may enter a foreign social scene to avoid their ex. Common interests may be avoided out of fear. The routines that were once so commonly executed on a daily basis, may be completely different than what they once were.

A form of identity is lost during divorce. Where one lives, what school their children may attend, and who they confide in are all subject to change. Since the “unit” of marriage often involves friendships with other couples, expressing dissatisfaction with their previous married life may feel uncomfortable. These friends may only know the divorcing couple as a married couple, making it increasingly difficult to separate an independent identity from the marriage identity. Financially, sexually, and socially, all aspects of individuality change for both men and women.

The Journal of Men’s Health states divorce can have a greater toll on men than women. Men are prone to deeper depressions and more likely to abuse substances after divorce. The suicide risk for an unmarried man is 39 percent higher than that of a married man. Men are also at greater risk for physical health problems such as heart attacks and stroke.

Men start to mourn later in a divorce than women, thus extending the grieving process. Since women are more likely to initiate divorce, men may experience denial during the initial stages of separation.

When actively dealing with divorce, men are more likely to use action rather than words to express their feelings. Common actions taken by newly divorced men include, working too much, having casual sexual encounters, avoiding their apartment/new home.

Women experience more financial distress after the divorce. Since often times women have custody of the children, they are responsible for more of the household and family expenses than men. According to an article in the American Sociological Review, ‘The Effect of Marriage and Divorce on Women’s Economic Well-Being’, women do not completely recover from their financial loss due to divorce until they remarry.

Women have less physical health problems than men in the beginning of their divorce. Because of psychological stress and often poverty, physical health is the outcome of these results. These physical health problems can range from the common cold to heart conditions and even cancer.

Although the statistics may range in severity from men to women, most symptoms are frequently the same. Healing from a divorce is like healing from any other sort of loss. It must be acknowledged, felt, and grieved for as long as the time is needed.


Thursday, 17 October 2019

10 ways parents can do divorce differently

Bypass the destructive effect divorce can have on a family, and move into the new territory of mediation and co-parenting.

“Our conventional way of handling divorce is for the parties to engage lawyers whose expertise is limited to the legal matters,” points out Nina Mensing, a counsellor and FAMAC accredited mediator who specialises in family matters.

“Without help, guidance and support around all the other powerful aspects of divorce, it’s no wonder that it so often results in a bitter and traumatic fall-out impacting over the long-term not just on adults, but on children too.”

There’s growing awareness that there are significant benefits to doing divorce differently, and this is becoming more of an imperative if there are children in the family.

Research shows that respondents who went through mediated divorces reported less conflict in co-parenting a year after the divorce, whereas parents who had litigated divorces reported an increase in conflict (Sbarra & Emery, 2008).

“Mediation is based on a model of co-operative dispute settlement,” explains Nina, “The process aims to prevent the escalation of conflict between the parties, which is so easily fuelled by litigation.

"This is vital when there are children involved. In any divorce involving children, the relationship between the parents has to be maintained at a mature and suitable level so that they are capable of co-parenting effectively.”

  • Your child comes first
  • You can be a happy divorced family
  • When parents divorce

Nina's 10 steps to doing divorce differently:

1. Make an informed decision, and be sure that divorce is the way forward

If divorce is presented as an option, it is important that both parties are well-informed about what lies up ahead before this decision is actually made. Reactive decision-making can have long-term negative effects on all involved.

It is important to know and understand all the different impacts and implications involved in a divorce, from the legal and financial ramifications to the practicalities of co-parenting and the effects of the identity shifts.

It gives both parties a sense of control over the process if they’ve done research, gone to counselling and experienced divorce coaching before they reach a decision to divorce.

2. Get the professional help you need

Divorce is an arduous process that can push the limits of our usual support networks. Each party needs to take responsibility for managing their emotions, expectations and the stress.

Going for individual counselling or coaching allows you to tap into a robust resource of independent, professional advice and support.

3. Get your finances in order

Make sure you understand your financial situation before discussing how to split your finances.

4. Empower yourself

Learn about the process. Learn about the law. Learn about what would be best for your situation and your family. You don’t need others telling you what you should be doing – this is your life and your family.

Don’t let others make decisions for you. Learn from others, get support from others, but make your own decisions.

5. Do not discuss adult subjects with your children

First and foremost is to not talk negatively about the other parent.

Children like to know what is happening in their lives. Allow them to ask questions, tell them what is going on, but do not go into details or blame the other parent for anything.

Be the adult, and let the children be children. Learn about how to co-parent effectively.

6. Stop defending yourself

Attacking and defending plays into the game of litigation, and is a never-ending cycle. De-escalate the conflict by not attacking and not defending – except in the case of abuse.

If the marriage is abusive then go through the correct procedures to ensure your safety, emotionally and physically.

7. Work with a financial planner

Do this together for the sake of the children, and also individually.

8. Go to mediation

An accredited mediator will facilitate the process in a collaborative manner, always with the children’s best interests as the focus.

Ongoing communication during mediation allows for more effective co-parenting during this difficult time.
9. After mediation, get independent legal advice before signing
The mediation process will result in the drafting of a negotiated divorce agreement. Go back to mediation if advised by your lawyer that the agreement is not fair.
Starting a litigation process (suing the other person) at any point will escalate the conflict, which will have an adverse effect on the children.

10. Remember that every decision that is made, and every action and reaction between the two of you, will affect the children
It’s easy to fall into a mode where it feels like the divorce is all happening to you. But divorce is never about an individual, it is a family process.

Think always about the children’s best interests – some times that means backing down and lessening the conflict rather than having full control over every situation.

Don’t win the battle to lose the war. Our children learn from us, and will learn how to handle conflict the way we do. Teach them that one can collaborate, and despite the marriage breaking down, that the two of you can still be parents together for their sake.

“It is important to re-frame the way we have always looked at divorce,” concludes Nina, “Divorce does not break families up; it recreates new types of families.

"How you divorce has a big impact on how you will co-parent and interact with your ex-spouse, for years to come. Doing divorce differently through mediation is essentially doing it in a far more mature and constructive way.”


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

When Your Teen Sides with the Other Parent After Divorce

So, you feel you have done nothing wrong, yet your teen has created a story with you as the resident bad guy! Are your ears burning?

It is very hard when one or both parents involve the child in their agendas and it can be so detrimental to the child’s emotional well-being and subsequent relationship with the alienated parent. It can make the estranged parent feel angry, hurt, stressed and pushed out. It can be a lonely frustrating place to find yourself.

What can you do about it if you find yourself in that situation?

First and foremost, don’t despair and think it’s the end of your relationship forever. Parental break ups can be very hard for adolescents to integrate even when the split has been amicable. Teenagers go through huge emotional transitions that see them make all or nothing decisions and catastrophize their life when obstacles arise even temporarily!

Perception is reality and what he/she has experienced maybe very different to your view of what the relational history and facts are. Being wise enough to acknowledge that you have made a mistake, by seeing it from their perspective is the biggest investment tool in your positive relations bag. It smart and its strategic and will get you more of what you want than you can get by simply refusing to ever be wrong.

Here are some tips which may help in your efforts at reconciliation:

  • Encourage them to tell you if you have upset them in anyway, “Please let me know so that I can sort it out and apologize.” Saying you are aware of where they are coming from, you understand THEIR view point and why THEY are upset even though YOU don’t necessarily agree, helps. Take responsibility for your part in this breakdown of your relationship. Whatever they “feel” — their view may be inaccurate but their pain is real. Denying their right to perception will only make things worse.
  • Keep in contact even if it’s one-sided for the time being. Continue the emails, texts, or even hand-written letters, telling them how much they mean to you and why you are proud of them. If they refuse to accept these messages, write them anyway and keep them. You never know when the tide will change. Telling them later how you felt about them during that time will be a comfort and give you brownie points! They need to know they are loved unconditionally.
  • Never criticize or disparage their Mum/Dad or others in their life, even if you think it or hear it from them first. When issues involving their other parent and you are brought up by your teen, don’t engage in conversations and don’t involve them in your relationship. Children do not need to feel burdened by their parents’ issues, and it may well come back to bite you in the future!
  • At the same time, be firm but loving about your stance on issues that involve you and the family dynamic. It takes two for a relationship to be problematic.
  • Be supportive and encouraging always. Stick to safe topics: school, friends, work, etc.
  • Never give up trying to connect, they are still maturing psycho-emotionally, and teens go through a huge development stage between 18 and 25. As they learn more about the world and how to navigate relationships they will not see their loved ones in such black and white terms. The other parent is not so perfect after all! They will also begin to understand that it takes two to keep a loving relationship afloat.
  • They may not yet legally be an adult, but they are not far off. So your relationship will soon change to one of two adults, when you are still a parent but in a different way. Treat them more maturely, by asking them lots of questions about their future goals and their opinions on things. Adolescent’s love it when they are asked their views and advice on issues or even whether should you buy a new car. It makes them feel empowered, and important.
  • Always be wiser, stronger, kinder. It will hopefully be a great investment for the future adult to adult relationship.
Most importantly take care of yourself during this time of estrangement. Seeking support and relaxation is imperative to get you through and help to keep you on track.

A friend of mine lost contact with her teen daughter after an acrimonious split with her husband and, for many years, thought they would never reconnect. Her heart was broken. I knew that as a child this teenager had been loved dearly and nurtured by her Mum, and told her that the psycho-emotional ground work had been done, even if her teen was angry and distant now. I said to my friend once the teen reached her twenties she would start to change as she started to see the holes in her previous narrative. And she did.

A lot more happens at around 21, 22, 23 years old. That’s when young people tend to start understanding their parents as people with flaws like everyone else. They take a wider and further, lens when it come to their childhood experiences with their parents and sift through and collate what to them was, and was not, acceptable from the past. This maturing often means they create new perspectives that are more nuanced and gentler. Hey, maybe the old man/lady was not so bad after all!

We are all a work in progress!


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

You Can't Fool Yourself: Acting Like You Don't Care Isn't Letting Go

It can be difficult to let go of certain things or to let go of certain individuals in your life. Our minds are funny that way.

Although we understand that, in theory, we have control over ourselves, our minds, our thoughts, etc., in practice, taking and exercising control proves much more difficult.

Sometimes it's a matter of quieting the mind enough to navigate through all the thoughts running loose, bouncing off each other, making clear focus and full control unlikely.

Sometimes it's about giving ourselves time to re-navigate our course in life and restructure our lifestyle – often it's the habits we're accustomed to that make change so incredibly difficult to achieve.

Other times still, what we're trying to let go of and forget has influenced our lives and the people we are today so greatly that letting go seems basically impossible.

The truth is, there are things in our lives we can't easily let go of. There are things and individuals we won't ever forget, nor – to be honest – should we forget.

Most importantly, you need to remember acting or pretending like you no longer care, like you are no longer somehow connected to that particular point or path in life, like you've moved on or forgotten isn't actually letting go.

You may be fooling the rest of the world, but you aren't fooling yourself.

Distractions can really only get you so far.

Whether we're talking breakup, career change, traumatizing event or any other life-changing experience, distracting yourself after the initial fallout does have its benefits.

It allows you to cap your emotions, giving you time to breathe – which can sometimes prove to be exactly what we need.

Taking your focus off the issue you're dealing with and focusing on other things going on in your life can make transitioning into a new life more seamless; however, distracting yourself can only take you so far; in fact, it's only good in the beginning.

Eventually, continuously distracting yourself will remove you from reality. Of course, this is the goal in the beginning, but continuously removing yourself from reality inevitably does even more harm.

Sooner or later, you're going to have to come to terms with your situation.

Likewise, it's important how we're distracting ourselves. People tend to make some of the worst decisions when trying to distract themselves from someone or something causing them emotional pain.

What we ought to be doing is our best to avoid such bad decisions, and instead force ourselves to focus on more positive things.

Acting like you don't care can actually make things a whole lot more difficult for you.

You can lie to the whole world, which is usually what pretending not to care starts off as, but you can't allow yourself to lie to you.

Everyone else in the world can – and likely will – lie to you at one point or another in your life – you have no control over that. You do, however, have control of how honest you are with yourself.

I can understand saving face, saving yourself from feeling embarrassed and from having people snoop around your business when it's none of their business.

What I can't understand is building a delusion for yourself. I want to say you aren't ever going to fool yourself, but the truth is that is exactly what may happen.

The human mind is incredibly powerful. So powerful in fact that sometimes the shifts in realities we experience, we don't even notice.

If you play a part for long enough, you may very well end up believing you actually are the person you're pretending to be. Until, however, reality comes crashing in – because it almost always inevitably does.

When that happens, you're going to have a difficult time finding yourself, once again figuring out who you are and – most importantly – what it is you want in life.

You've been acting so nonchalant for so long that you forgot where it is you actually stand.

Have you ever stopped and wondered why you feel the need to let go?

Obviously, you feel the need to let go because holding on is painful. We don't like pain because it makes us feel uncomfortable, and therefore, we want to do our best to avoid it.

At the same time, some things you simply can't, and never will, let go of. So what the hell are you to do then?

This is the point that, when most of us reach it, we begin to drown in the realization that we are never going to be able to let go and move on completely.

We will never let go entirely because we can never forget. So what are you supposed to do? Accept that you're going to be dealing with intense emotional distress for the rest of your life?

Not at all. You see, it's one thing to let go and forget and another to accept, learn from and move on. The former isn't always possible, while the latter is really the only wise and viable solution.

Some misfortunes, mistakes or people you will never fully let go of or forget, but this is a good thing. If we were to go through life forgetting all the pain we've experienced on our journey, we would never learn or make progress.

Instead, we'd keep making the same mistakes, never learning, never finding peace or happiness.

The most painful moments in our lives are not ones to be forgotten, to be let go of and left behind.

On the contrary, they are moments we should delve into, dissect and try to understand as best as possible.

If we made mistakes, we need to understand what mistakes we made and why we made them.

If things didn't work out for other reasons, we need to figure out what those reasons are. Trying or pretending to let go won't get you anywhere in life.

Being in denial of all that you've been through and experienced will only make the likelihood of you repeating the same mistakes much more likely.

Some things – and some people – you will never be able to fully let go of. Why? Because they changed you. They added their stroke with their paintbrushes, which added to the composition you are today.

Embrace it. Don't hide from it or ignore it. Accept it. Understand it. Learn from it. And grow from it.


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

How to avoid relationship mistakes when dating after a divorce

Does the idea of dating after divorce arouse the same dread as does a root canal? Are you trying to get back into the dating scene but don’t know how or are scared that you will attract the wrong person? Well, have no fear. Here is some after divorce dating advice to help you jump back into the dating deepend before you know it!


Do understand why your last relationship failed

Following divorce, it’s only natural to have cold feet when it comes to finding a new flame. Whether conscious of it or not, divorce leaves most people scared of getting burned again. And there’s good reason for fear. What’s to say you won’t make the same mistakes again? If you want to prevent your next relationship from going down in flames, it’s vital to understand the reasons why your last relationship went up in smoke. With clarity comes the courage to jump again into the dating pool -- and attract your true Mr. or Ms. right this time around.

Do take notice of your repetitive mate selection patterns

Most of us have been emotionally injured during our “de-formative years.” It is these old scars from childhood that drive us to choose partners who emotionally resemble the parents who injured us so that we can recreate our old scars; not because we’re gluttons for punishment--but because we secretly hope to achieve a happy ending this time around. If our partners bring us the emotional goodies that we didn’t receive from our parents, our old scars will finally feel healed.
Sadly, this plan rarely works, precisely because our partners are limited and damaged in the exact ways that our parents were--meaning they can’t give us any better treatment than our parents did. Awareness of our old scars enables us to make a more conscious choice this time around, and head-off unnecessary heartache.

Do choose a partner who will give you your happy ending

After identifying your old scar, your next task is to become conscious of what your happy ending is. Hint: Your happy ending is the kind of treatment that you always dreamed of receiving from the parent who let you down. Your quest for this happy ending is your blueprint for your next relationship. So, for example, if you had a father who paid no attention to you, look for a partner who is present and attentive to you. The bottom line: This time around you want to choose a partner who will feed rather than frustrate your deepest needs.

Do interview candidates and be highly selective

The only way to determine if someone is right for you is to do your homework. Dating homework consists of asking lots of questions and observing your intended’s actions over time. With both eyes open, you want to be looking for a partner who is similar to you in all the areas that count, including financial, sexual, political and religious values. The more similar you both are, the more compatible you are. And, above all, you want to ensure that the person isn’t like the parent (or your ex) who let you down. Doing your due diligence is the key to preventing a repeat performance of the heartache that you experienced in your first family and in your relationship with your ex.

Do be authentic

Thirty-five percent of all new marriages are the result of online dating. But, with online dating, it’s easy to present a false mask. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University found that 80 percent of online daters lie about their age, height, and weight. So be careful! Don’t take another person’s profile at face value. Keep one eyebrow raised until you can verify the other person’s honesty. And, when it comes to presenting yourself, remember: If you paint a false picture of yourself, you’re painting yourself into a corner! And you can’t undo lies and omissions.
Besides, the more authentic you are the better your chances of attracting the right partner for you. The idea is to give a snapshot of your personality, tastes, and interests without oversharing. So you probably don’t want to talk about your recurring IBS, but you do want to offer pertinent details that will help potential partners know who you are and what you’re into.


Do not choose a partner who hates his/her mother or father

If your date is like most of the world, he/she may be looking to replay unfinished business with a parent using you as the emotional punching bag. Your bottom line is this: If someone has an ax to grind with his/her parents, run for the hills, because it won’t be long before that ax swings in your direction.

Do not choose a partner who’s a project

When you find yourself drawn to someone who’s damaged goods, that’s your warning sign that you’re on the verge of repeating old scars. Trying to fix damaged partners is an unconscious attempt to fix our parents in the hope of achieving our happy ending. If this is your case, step back from dating until your old scar is healed. Then and only then will you be ready to find a healthy relationship rather than a partner who’s a project. Remember: The way to spell heartache? Choose a partner who’s a project!

Do not delay meeting in person

If you’re new to the dating scene, or you’ve been burned and are recovering from a messy breakup or divorce, you probably won’t feel comfortable rushing an in-person meeting. But beware: Anonymous, faceless conversations play a trick on your mind, allowing you to develop an intimacy without really knowing the other person. In other words, that guy or lady becomes a blank screen you can project your fantasies onto—enabling that person to become anyone you want. Keep that going too long, and you may fall in love with a phantom. Be wary of prolonged email exchanges and never-ending phone calls and meet in person asap.

Do not choose a person who refuses to take ownership

When “interviewing” dates as candidates for a possible relationship, listen carefully to what your date says about past failed relationships. If that person blames everything on the ex and takes no responsibility for his/her role in the demise of past relationships, grab your marbles and go home! Otherwise, you will soon be losing your marbles when you find yourself on the receiving end of that person’s blame.

Do not settle

After a breakup or divorce, our self-esteems can be lower than pond scum. In this state, we don’t feel desirable, which can make us come across as desperate and needy. When our self-esteems are flying at half mast, we are at risk of settling for someone who isn’t right for us or even attracting a dating deadbeat. So, before reentering the dating scene, make sure to raise your personal net worth and you will raise the odds of attracting your Mr. or Ms. Right!


Reentering the dating scene is a wonderful opportunity to set yourself free from the childhood emotional demons that haunt our adult relationships. The key to freedom is consciousness: Know your old scars and consciously choose a partner who will bring you healing rather than heartache.