Children

Combat Your Teen’s Narcissism By Teaching Them Sincere Empathy

Teenagers are notorious for two things—teen angst and narcissism. In fact, many parents wonder where they went wrong in bringing up their kids to become so self-centered.

The good news is, your teen’s self-absorption is not a reflection of your parenting. They are just going through the normal phases of growing up. It turns out that being egocentric is a normal part of teen development, as it helps them figure out their unique identities separate from their families.

However, normal teen narcissism should not be confused with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The latter is a diagnosable condition and people with the disorder normally experience difficulties in having normal lives.

Also, those with NPD often struggle to maintain healthy relationships, and the disorder usually affects their education or employment. Teens who are diagnosed with NPD require lengthy treatment and a change of environment like that provided at a therapeutic boarding school.

Dealing With Your Narcissistic Teen

The key to dealing with a self-centered teen lies in building empathy. You will need to find ways to help your teen learn how to understand and share other people’s feelings. Here are some strategies that might help.

Get your teen to volunteer.

Volunteering has several benefits for teens including opening their eyes to what others go through. Through volunteering, your teen will learn how to be a giver, not just a taker. They will come to experience the satisfaction that comes with helping those who are in need.

Help them see other alternatives.

Teens have a way of assuming other people’s behavior is somehow related to them. For instance, your teen might think that the teacher who gave him a poor grade doesn’t like him. So help your teen see that while his conclusion is a definite possibility, there could be other alternatives as well.

Don’t overindulge your teen.

Set limits on how much cash or presents you give your teen and avoid showering them with too many lavish experiences or gifts. Those only reinforce the notion that their self-worth lies in material things and showing off to others. Instead, teach your teenager that self-worth comes from the inside out and help them develop confidence in their abilities.

Limit their social media use.

Social media can encourage your teen to become superficial and obsessed with having perfect looks or material items. Limiting their screen time is a good place to start. You can also encourage them to take up other pursuits and hobbies that will help them become well-rounded teenagers instead.

Don’t shield your teen from failure.

Another excellent way to fight your teen’s narcissism is allowing them to face the consequences of their actions and not shielding them from life’s failures. Allowing your teen to experience disappointment and failure once in a while is actually good for their healthy development. Just remember to equip them with the necessary problem-solving skills to address situations on their own should they get into trouble.

While it’s normal for teens to be a little narcissistic, you should still encourage your teen to change their behavior by instilling the values of empathy in them.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter

What Are the First-Year Costs That Come with Raising a Baby?

When you feel you’re ready to have a baby, it can be exciting as well as overwhelming. Having a baby means expanding your family, but it also means that you’ll have some logistics to consider. Namely, what about the financial considerations that come with having a child?

There are short- and long-term factors to think about. In the short-term, you’ll have to think about the medical costs related to pregnancy and labor and delivery, as well as maternity and paternity leave from your job. You’ll have initial investments for items such as cribs and other baby accessories. Then, you’ll have to think about health insurance for your new child and childcare when you do return to work.

These first-year costs can add up very quickly, and they require planning and strategizing to manage them effectively.

LendEDU recently surveyed 1,000 parents with a child who was at the time of the research, at least a year-old but not older than three. The goal of the research was to determine what to expect when it comes to raising a child and the costs it requires within the first year of the baby’s life. The survey took place over two days in February 2019 and was conducted by online polling company Pollfish.

The following are highlights of the research.

On Average, a Baby’s First Year Will Cost $13,186

The research indicates that the year-one costs for a new baby amount to an average of $13,186, with a median cost of $6,000. This number represents quite a jump from a 2010 USDA report, that showed the average household would spend $12,000 during the first year of a baby’s life.

  • For around ¼ of the poll respondents, first-year spending for a new baby represented anywhere from 21 to 30 percent of annual income.
  • 13 percent said it was 31 to 40 percent of take-home pay, and eight percent said they had to spend up to 50 percent of their income.
  • Eight percent spent more than half of their annual income on costs related to the baby.

How Is the Total First Year Cost Broken Down?

So, more than $13,000 is quite a bit in a year. What is that spent on? The costs break down in the following way, based on the LendEDU research:

  • Toys, diapers, and gear like strollers was the most expensive category. These costs represented 30 percent of total spending, amounting to $3,965.
  • 28 percent of spending went to food, which was on average $3,692 of the total first-year costs.
  • Next was healthcare, taking up 17 percent of total first-year spending.
  • Childcare accounted for 13 percent of first-year costs for a new baby, and behind that was miscellaneous expenses at 12 percent of the total.

Did Parents Save in Advance?

With such high costs associated with having a baby, did parents plan, save and budget in advance of having a child?

58 percent of people who participated in the survey said they started saving money to prepare, although 42 percent said they didn’t budget ahead-of-time. 52 percent of parents who did say they started budgeting and saving didn’t save enough for all costs.

Many parents also underestimated how much it would really cost. The average parent in the survey expected to spend $9,371 on a newborn, with their estimates being off by more than $3,800.

So what’s the takeaway? Babies are expensive, and it’s important for parents to have an idea of just how expensive and start financially planning and preparing as soon as possible before having a child.

Author of this article is Mike Brown  at  lendedu.com/

Going It Alone: Tips for a Divorced Single Parent Expecting a Disabled Child

Becoming a parent is a time of exhilaration and anxiety. You’re thrilled to bring a new child into the world, but at the same time, you worry about the logistical and financial challenges that come with having a child. However, your job becomes a little harder if you’re a divorced single parent expecting a disabled child. There are questions and concerns about health care, insurance, and living environment that need to be addressed to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the demands of parenting a disabled child on your own.

Physical Environment

The nature of your child’s disability will determine the modifications that’ll need to be made to your living space. Safety is always an issue where little ones are concerned, so it’s advisable to install safety gates to block stairs and to put in padded flooring that will cushion falls. Remove objects with hard edges, and place padding over the hard corners of your furniture. Safety rails in the bathroom and hallways are generally a good idea for a child with any kind of disability, as is sensor-activated lighting in the bedroom, bathroom, and any dimly lit sections of your home.

If your child has a physical disability that places a premium on mobility and access, widened doorways (a minimum of 36 inches across) and level transitions between rooms will make life much easier for a child who needs a wheelchair or some other mobility assistive device. It may be necessary to hire a local professional to make safety or accessibility modifications, particularly if structural changes are necessary. Always get estimates from at least three contractors if you’ll need a professional’s assistance. The more you can do to address your child’s physical needs in advance, the easier your job as a single parent will be.

Insurance and Expenses

Insurance can be a tricky matter for the parent of a disabled child. It can be difficult to determine the extent of your caregiver relationship (you may be needed until your child is well into adulthood), so it’s important to take out a life insurance policy to provide for your child after your death. If you’re not familiar with Medicaid, be aware that it can help you cover some of the medical expenses (not covered by health insurance) that come with caring for a disabled child.

There may be non-reimbursed medical expenses that can be deducted on your tax return; you’re at liberty to write off those costs once you’ve exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Also, don’t put off estate planning, and consider discussing your insurance and financial needs with a financial adviser or estate-planning expert. As a single parent, you’re the sole source of financial and medical assistance for your child, so don’t overlook long-term planning.

Self-Care

As the single parent of a child with a mental or physical disability, it’s essential that you pay close attention to your mental and physical well-being. It’s difficult to be an effective caregiver if you’re feeling run down and mentally fatigued, so take advantage of offers from family and friends to go out and do something for yourself once in a while — anything that will recharge your mental batteries will help. However, be sure to work in a little exercise every day. Even something as simple as a brief walk can be beneficial.

Yoga and Meditation

Caring for a disabled child around the clock by yourself can be extremely stressful. Consider making time for meditation (especially when you’re feeling out of control) or learning yoga, which is a unique combination of physical exercise and mental discipline.

Parenting a disabled child is a unique challenge when you’re going it alone — you need all the help you can get. Once you’ve determined your child’s safety and accessibility needs, figure out what modifications will be needed to get an idea of cost. And don’t put off seeking the advice of people who know the best options when it comes to health insurance and long-term financial planning for your child’s welfare. The day will come when you’re no longer there for your child, and having a plan in place will give you peace of mind and provide for her.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   disabledparents.org         

Teaching Children About Self-Care

Teaching Kids About Self-Care Childhood is a time of joy, growth and new adventures. Anything is possible, and there is a lifetime ahead of wonders that we can only imagine for our little ones. As they grow, the future begins to solidify itself. Goals become clearer, new responsibilities are taken on, and they begin the process of developing into who they will be as adults.

Through this process, we parents, teach them many things. But are we neglecting a critical lesson? Are we teaching our children how to engage in self-care?

The World Our Children Live In Is Stressful

A landmark study done by the National Surveys On Drug Use and Health found in 2016 that depression in teens was on the rise. Whether that is because there really is a rising number, or if we are just better tracking the phenomenon, is unknown.However, given that experts agree that teen stress now rivals that of adults, it is at least clear that something needs to be done.

Once you have seen the signs of depression in your child, one of the simplest ways to help reduce the risk in your own children is to teach them the value of self-care. Here are some ways to guide them to do just that.

Set Aside Some Off Time

By “off time” that means completely off of everything. No phones, no computer, no TV, no screens at all. No responsibilities, either. Take out a chunk out of every day for everyone to just relax and do something unplugged they enjoy. Maybe that is taking a long bath, or playing some basketball, or settling in with a book.

Have Family Dinners

Did you know that something as simple as sitting down for a meal with your family can wash away a bad day? Maybe it won’t be dinner, maybe it will be breakfast, or lunch, or even just something you do on the weekends. But having that time together to unwind as a family and talk about the day or week over delicious food is perfect self-care for everyone and a great example to set for your children.

Teach Your Children To Meditate

Meditation is not a difficult skill to acquire, even for young children. All it takes is breathing and a conscious calming of the mind. Learning to stop, breath and clear the head is a valuable coping method that can help your child through many difficult situations they may face in life.

Encourage Them To Drop Something

Is your teen overwhelmed? Are they taking on too many extracurriculars, trying to juggle a job on top of keeping perfect grades or just struggling to stay above water? Sometimes they just need you to sit them down and tell them that it is alright to drop a responsibility. It is for their own health.

By both modeling these things and directly teaching your children about self-care, you can help your teen learn how to take care of themselves well into adulthood.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter

 

 

Keeping Divorce Drama Out Of The Schools

Here are tips for parents, and divorce professionals to help keep divorce out of the schools. Children bringing their parents’ divorce drama into the classroom is disrupting. It wastes teaching time and can cause other students to lose focus on their lessons. It is not fair to anyone.

A first step is informing various school personnel of the divorce situation.   School staff cannot be fully supportive if they have no clue what is going on in a child’s life. I worked with students, parents and staff with divorce issues in the schools. Some of the problems were due to lack of communication between parents and staff.

It can be embarrassing for a child to be asked what they did over the weekend with their parents in front of the other students. They do not want to say, I went from’ Mum’s house to stay with dad. The teacher who is not informed, can put a child in an awkward spot. It is up to adults, not children, to explain what is going on at home.

Teachers and the school secretary need to know to send copies of reports and letters to each parent. Then both are on the same page. When I did not realize a divorce was in progress, an uncomfortable student would ask which parent was to receive the test results. It is up to each parent to make sure the school has their e-mail address for newsletters and so forth. Both parents can check the school’s web site for events and updates. A child is not to be told, by a parent that they were not aware of an event at school. Do not put kids in the middle.

A fallout from divorce is that the student does not have all they require for class. Some leave homework at the other parent’s house. One time a sobbing child was in my office while I called a father to bring in an item left behind at his house the prior week.  It was a crucial piece of a project which had to presented in class that morning. Unfortunately, this occurred with other students as well. Get a system, such as a check list which stays with the child between homes.

Parents, do not overshare divorce details with your offspring. That seems quite obvious, however it is not always put into practice. I had to deal with students who were upset or on the verge of vomiting when distressed over the minutia of their parent’s divorce. One boy spent time in my office while his parents were with solicitors, fighting over a shared care schedule. He did not know if he was moving house, or would not see one parent very much. Just say “we have a meeting with solicitors” and leave it at that. Why does anyone need to know what is on the agenda for each divorce session?

Schools often send home a form to be filled out with contact information and any additional notes about the student. If one parent is not allowed to pick up their son or daughter, or is out of the picture, make sure to write that down. I asked a five-year-old which parent should I call, when he was sick in my office. The little guy got upset and said “mum.” Although nothing was put in the official contact form, his teacher later told me that the father had abandoned his family. In another instance, a form had both parents and their mobile numbers. When the little girl was sick, I called her mum first and left a message that I would try dad.   Her father explained that he was out of town at the moment.

Her step-father later came storming into my office and screamed that the father should never be called. I showed him the form which listed the father. He calmed down when he realized that his wife had never informed the school about this situation. He and his wife promptly took care of it.

A ploy of a divorcing parent can be to try and get school staff on their side. We are not going to get caught up in the conflict and choose one parent over the other. Our job is to be supportive of the students and remain neutral about their parents.

If your child is anxious about the divorce and is bringing it into the classroom, consider short term counselling. My two boys met with a therapist during divorce and for a bit afterwards. It helped them to be calmer and more centred, both in and out of school. Talking to a professional or impartial adult, will help kids sort out their concerns instead of bringing them into school.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

 

 

A Simple Way To Help Your Child Feel More Loved

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If there is anything that you learn right away when you have children it is that kids are all different. They have different personalities, needs and interests. As they age from young children into teens, many parents feel that it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate with their teens. It may even feel as though everything you try to do and say is leading to an argument or making your child feel worse.

When we are already feeling overwhelmed, the entire process can be near insurmountable. But you don’t have to feel that way forever. One option is to adapt to how you interact with your child so you can make your child feel more loved and secure.

The Love Language Approach to Parenting

The first step in this process is knowing your kid’s love language. You have probably heard of the love languages before. Created by Gary Chapman, it is a way of establishing what ways of showing affection and care each of us responds to the most. There are five languages:

  • Word of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

People can have multiple love languages and some will be stronger than others, while some might have a couple be equally important. There are quizzes for the language, apology language and an anger assessment. Each can help you and loved ones better understand one another and even change the way you interact with other people on a professional level.

Families with older children can make taking this quiz a group activity and discuss how each can help use one another’s love language to show they care. For younger children, it may come down to guessing based on what your child appears to enjoy and not enjoy. For instance, if your child likes to be comforted with a hug or enjoys cuddling that provides a clue to their language. If they prefer verbal reassurance that is a better indication.

The Importance of Warmth

A study by the University of Amsterdam looked at what helps to build self-esteem and positive self-image in children. According to their results, lavishing praise on a child can have the opposite effect.

Instead, what has the greatest impact on a child’s self-esteem is the warmth that is shown to them on a consistent basis. Each of the five languages is based on warmth delivered in different ways. You can customize that warmth in a way that your child will respond to most, making it even more effective for their emotional well-being. All of this can help your family to become closer and help ensure you child feels truly loved.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter

 

Travel Tips For The Single Parent

Travel as a single parent gives one the opportunity to strengthen the bond between parent and child, and leave the complications of divorce behind. Taking a vacation does wonders for getting rid of stress and returning rejuvenated. When used to having a travel partner (former spouse), it can be unnerving to go alone with the kids. Having to watch the youngsters 24/7 without a break can be tiring, however there are ways to meet everyone’s needs. Enlist a family member to go with you. My mother went on a Hawaiian cruise with my sons and I at the beginning of my turbulent divorce. I got much needed alone time when she did a few activities with the boys on shore. All of us were happy. Some siblings and their offspring have taken trips together or shared a holiday home. An adult took a turn watching the cousins, so the other one could relax.

What works for many single parents is selecting a hotel with a kid’s or teen club. The wee ones are busily engaged learning songs, crafts and games while their single parents can relax with a book or enjoy the facilities. In Nevis, my boys learned about Caribbean traditions and marine life, while I headed off to the gym. There are resorts with great kid’s clubs globally, in Greece, Mexico, the Caribbean and so forth. A divorced friend likes the Club Meds where the children are occupied in their groups and she interacts with adults. They also do enjoyable activities as a family. She prefers the all-inclusive resorts so there are no financial surprises. This is one reason why I like cruising – I can budget my trips and know what the cost will be.

Cruises are a fun way to see many destinations without packing and unpacking. Most have clubs for the little ones and their teenage siblings. There are numerous activities, sports and shows on board that can be done as a family. After my divorce, my sons and I wanted to start fresh with holiday rituals. The three of us sailed around New Zealand and made several stops in Australia over Christmas and New Year’s. The décor, food and concerts were fabulous and I did not have the usual holiday stress. Ships provide an easy way for us to see the world and experience different cultures.

Various travel companies have tours for families, such as safaris in Africa, with child centered activities. They are slower paced and are also ideal for grandparents. These tours give adults an opportunity to have time without the kids, while they are engrossed in an activity. My teen and twenty-year-old did fine on a regular tour to India. Teens like trips packed with interesting sites, such as ancient stone fortresses, colorful bazaars, and activities that are not available at home. If you can time a trip around a festival or cultural event, that adds excitement. For example, we went to a Hindu Temple in Delhi on one of their holiest days of the year.

Consider only having one or two places to stay on a trip, particularly with very young children. Have that be your hub and plan day trips or primarily see the sights around your location. Changing hotels frequently with much travel is tiring and can be stressful. Going to a Dude Ranch and riding horses for a week can be memorable. There are hikes, campfires and outdoor fun. Kids enjoy farm stays and playing with the animals. A city break such as London, has many kid friendly museums and historical sites, like the Tower of London. My sons loved feeding the ducks in the various large parks and I liked sitting on a park bench reading. Orlando is another example where a single parent and kids can stay put in one hotel and enjoy the many amusement parks in the area. Trying to see too much in a short time is exhausting. On a trip to Burma (Myanmar), I crammed too many destinations and hotels into our itinerary. My young sons got cranky and I ended up sick. Spending a week at a beach, lake or mountain cabin is a lovely way to unwind.

When planning a trip post-divorce, there are practical aspects to remember. Inform your ex-spouse before taking your children across the state line. Get written permission that is notarized by the other parent, when taking youngsters out of the country. You do not want to be accused of international kidnapping, plus the airlines may ask to see this letter. Both parents must be present for a child under sixteen to obtain or renew their passport. A notarized letter giving permission from an absent parent will suffice. Make sure that each of you has at least six months left on your passport before it expires or another country can deny entry.

View travel as an adventure. Yes, things will not always go as planned, so be flexible and pack your sense of humor. Something that goes terribly wrong can be a funny story for years to come. Enjoy your single parent vacations, as your children will grow up too quickly. Bon Voyage!

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)

How To Handle Parental Guilt

We are not immune from parental guilt which can be intensified during divorce. One feels like they could have done more for the children, even when nearly at the breaking point. It is a challenge to juggle so many balls in the air during proceedings and not drop one from time to time. We can be our own worst critic – when in reality our actions were fine.

What helps is to have a conversation with the children and tell them that you are under stress. If you snap at the youngsters or are a bit blunt – it is not about them – but rather your tense situation. This helps the kids to feel more secure when told they are not the source of your periodic angry outbursts. When I was about to lose it, I took a time out. I told my sons to let me read for awhile and then I would be calmer.

When feeling that you have failed a child, talk it over with them. Often my sons did not see that anything was wrong, when I thought they were hurt or disappointed. Getting their perspective was a good reality check for me. Apologize if appropriate. Let the youngsters know that you feel badly for what happened. Both of you will feel better afterwards. This is a good example for them to see when someone has messed up, to say that you are sorry.

Even when some things cannot be helped, we still feel guilt. You may have a mandatory meeting at work scheduled during your daughter’s class play. An obligation may keep you from your son’s rugby match. Express your disappointment and let your child talk about how they feel. Reassure offspring that you still love them when you cannot be with them.

Do not label yourself as a bad parent when it is your choice to do something that you need to do for yourself. I recently had to stop calling myself “A bad mum” since I chose to go to a conference in London when my son would be home from university for spring break. I was torn about whether or not to leave, however decided to take the trip. As it turned out, my son had to work and departed before I did.

Notice where in your body you feel tension when you get that parental guilt. It may be a tightening in the chest or discomfort in the gut. When these sensations start to occur, recognize the need to step-back and regroup. Take deep breaths, go on a walk, do meditation or whatever relaxes you to prevent your stress level from escalating

Going out with friends was my cure. Discussing perceived parental shortcomings with others, can help you realize that you are actually doing a great job. Or your friends may have made a much bigger mistake than you did. Nice to know that other parents are not perfect either.  To read more  www.divorcemag.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-parental-guilt/

 

Communication Through The Arts For Children With Disabilities

fluteLife can be hard for children with disabilities. Athletic activities may be less practical for children with physical disabilities or difficulty balancing. However, the arts can be a safe space where they can express themselves, develop their minds and bond with others through creativity. Frequently, the challenge can be to get your child interested in an artistic endeavor.  Here are some ways you can help your child tap into their artistic side.

How the arts can help children with disabilities communicate  

The arts are important because even if your child has difficulty in academic subjects, you may find that they are naturally gifted in the arts. Engagement with the arts gives children, who may not be able to express themselves verbally, the opportunity to demonstrate their thoughts and feelings about a range of topics. The process of creation, whether it is visual art, music, or a dance routine, is powerful and helps to build self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to an in increased amount of determination to do well in all other areas of life including school.

Each type of fine art can benefit your child in different ways. Drawing, for example, helps to refine motor skills while teaching your child about shapes, shading, contrast, balance and other mathematical concepts.

How to help your child choose a fine art  

Occasionally, your child will gravitate to a particular subject, topic or form of expression on their own. This makes it significantly easier for you, as you will already have an idea of which type of artistic endeavor they will be interested in. In general, even if your child doesn’t have a particular focus of interest, it is relatively easy to tell. During free time, how does your child behave? Does he draw freehand, hum to himself, or move in rhythm in his chair? Also, how does your child act when around people? Is he gregarious and friendly or more withdrawn? Give them the opportunity to break away from established rules and express themselves artistically without any guidance other than their own inclination. Each of these can be indicating factors that can help you decide which fine art to enroll your child in.

Another way to discover your child’s interests is to expose them to different types of art – try playing different varieties of music, taking them to an art gallery, or going to see live theater. None of these activities are too strenuous for a child with disabilities and can be fascinating for children who have not experienced the arts in person before.

How to encourage your child in music  

If your child is musically inclined, the first task is to figure out what instrument they may wish to play. There are two ways to do this: either talk to them about what instruments they hear in different pieces and songs, or take them to a music shop and let them test out different instruments. Woodwinds including flutes, clarinets and saxophones, can be particularly good for children with impaired hearing, as they will still be able to feel the vibrations of the sound in the reed between their teeth as they play. To encourage your child to play their instrument, show genuine interest. Ask them questions about how their current piece is progressing, or even hold a home concert. If you are engaged in their artistic lives, they will be more likely to stick with it as they grow older.

Even if your child has had difficulty in school, becoming involved with the arts may be the way to get them interested in a wide variety of topics as their confidence builds. Showing excitement at each day’s progress will help raise their self-esteem even more.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   ashley@disabledparents.org

4 Key Life Skills To Teach Your Son When His Father Is Not Available

thumbnail__4KeyLifeSkillstoTeachYourSonifDadCan'We all wish our kids could have two solid, involved parents. But sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Regardless of the reason why their father isn’t in the picture anymore, it can feel as thought his place in your child’s life falls on your shoulders. That is a lot of responsibility, especially if you have a son. How can you teach him the same lessons that his father should have taught him?

The truth is that you may be able to teach him even better. There are some life lessons that go beyond how to shave, or the right way to tie a necktie. Lessons that are uniquely suited for a mother to pass down to her son, to make him a better man.

Expressing Emotion

Boys are taught from a young age to be “tough”. They aren’t supposed to cry, get too close to anyone, share how they feel…it is a toxic and unfair image that I have tried hard to break in my own sons. But the world is harsh and that message is so prevalent that it can be difficult to reach them.

As a mother, you can instill sensitivity and empathy in your son and show him that it is OK to have and express emotions.

Respecting Women

There is no doubt about it, there is a serious issue in our youth of how women and girls are portrayed. It is a battle that has been fought for many years and will continue to be. Whether because of pornography, modern media or just an incorrect view of a woman’s place in the world, we seem to be going backwards at times.

You can be a champion for respect, teaching your son how to view women in a healthy way and to treat them with the courtesy they deserve.

Trust and Dependability

A man’s word is all he has…that is a saying my dad used to say and I believe it firmly. Your son should know that if he wants to be trusted he has to show that he is dependable. If he lacks a steady fatherly role in his life, this may be an easy lesson to teach him, as he has seen the impact first hand of a lack of dependability and trustworthiness. You can also utilize the examples of wonderful father figures that surround your child to illustrate these key aspects needed in a man’s character.

Education

This one is a no-brainer. The importance of education, especially in today’s world, can’t be overstated. You should work with your son to see this critical idea. Be involved with his education and help him in his goals.

So many single mothers lament the lack of a father in their child’s life. But your son couldn’t be luckier…he has you! You can teach him those critical life lessons and help him to grow into the man you know he can be.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter |

 

 

7 Tips for Taking On Parenthood When You’re Living With a Disability

7 tipsWhen you’re about to be a new parent, it can be tricky to truly prepare for what lies ahead. But there are a few things you can do ahead of time to prepare. Here are seven steps you can take when you’re going to be a new parent and are living with a disability.

Talk About Parenting With Your Partner  

If you plan on parenting with a partner, it’s a good idea to sit down and really hash out what parenthood means to each of you. Talk about how tasks will be divided and what roles you expect each other to play. Discuss different parenting techniques and make final decisions together. Getting on the same page before your baby is born will diffuse any additional tension during an already stressful time.  

Set Budget Goals But Be Prepared for Surprises  

With a new baby on the way, you’ll want to set a budget. Expect monthly expenses to increase, and factor in new items, such as baby clothes, bottles, and diapers. Try to set aside some savings to cover any sudden financial issues. If you’re receiving any benefits, figure out if there will be changes to your benefits if you’re having a child, and don’t forget to review your health and life insurance as well.

Be Flexible With Your Schedule

If you live with a disability, you may be used to a certain routine. Know that children, and especially newborns, will cause some serious changes to your daily schedule. It may take time to work out a normal sleep pattern, and your life will revolve around feedings and care. Clear out your calendar for the first few weeks and don’t make any other plans except for parenting.  

Max Out Accessibility in Your Home  

Make sure your house is safe and ready for you and your baby. You’ll need to focus all your energy on the new little one, so take steps now to increase accessibility. If you haven’t already, think about replacing steps with a ramp, purchasing expandable hinges for doorways, and even installing skid-resistant flooring. Preventing accidents, like slips and falls, will make life as a parent easier and can make your home safer for a growing baby as well.  

Start Small Practices to Relieve Stress  

Any parent will tell you that nothing will stress you out quite like a new baby. So try to get yourself in the habit of practicing stress-relieving self-care now. You’ll likely be short on time when you bring your new baby home, so find brief, effective methods to relieve tension. Work on a little meditation routine or practice some acupressure on yourself. Minimizing stress will help you parent more productively.

Plan Out Meals for Those First Few Weeks   

Having a new baby will leave you with very little time to cook. So it’s smart to set up some quick, easy meals ahead of time. Prepare some casseroles and throw them in your freezer, or bag up some simple crockpot meals. If you have family and friends nearby, you can also ask them to organize a “meal train” to keep your family fed. Keeping speedy meals and convenient snacks around is a lifesaver for busy new parents.  

Find Help When You Need It  

Every parent needs help from time to time as we settle into our role. If you feel overwhelmed, think about calling a friend or family member to help you out with tasks around the house. You may even want to think about hiring someone to help you out, especially during the initial adjustment period. To a new parent, help can be priceless.

Every new parent feels some anxiety at first. With practice and planning, you’ll start to feel better soon. Know that you are fully capable of taking on this task. Congratulations on your new family member and welcome to the wonderful world of parenthood!

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   ashley@disabledparents.org

How Society Can Be Supportive To Children Of Divorce

Society is not always putting children’s interests first in other people’s divorces, and sometimes side with a parent. They do not understand the affect that their actions have on the children when meddling in others’ affairs. The key is to be cognizant that you were not present behind closed doors, and were not privy to exactly what occurred. One witnesses the mask of an adult’s public persona which may hide a much darker side. An example of this is, my son was asked by a friend to be a character witness when he was trying to get custody of his children away from his late wife’s parents. He did do this and later was appalled when discovering the father was a sociopath who manipulated others and did atrocious acts. The moral of this story is to let the professionals sort out a situation and do not assume you know all of the facts.

Believe the children. When a few children showed me bruises and discussed abuse or neglect, I immediately called the police in my role as school nurse. I did not say, “Oh, their parents would never do that” because this is how some clergy and pillars of the community are able to molest kids. One youngster was molested by a parent and confided this to his long-term Martial Arts instructor who was active in a child protection organization. He flat out told the boy he was lying because he knew his father and he would not do such a thing. This crushed the young student who dropped out of that activity. You may think a kid is trying to get attention and the allegation is not true, but do not say that to the child. The child’s best interest is the most important thing, not someone else’s reputation.

Do not agree to be a messenger service for a parent who is estranged or the court denied them contact. One parent who lost visitation, repeatedly sent his friends to his teenager’s workplace. They pumped the boy for information about his family or said how sad his dad was. Others tried to bribe the son to resume seeing his dad. This puts a child on the spot and is disruptive when being on the job. The teen is trying to be professional and does not want to discuss an abusive history with strangers or acquaintances. When I was dining in my favourite restaurant post-divorce with my kids, the owner came over and said that he had a message to deliver from my ex. This took me by surprise and upset the boys. I did not listen to it, told this friend not to play middleman again, and to refuse to take on the messenger role in the future. He actually was relieved.

If you witness verbal abuse towards a child of divorce, please step in and intervene. One mum was livid when the parents present did not help her son at a Boy Scout Meeting. The scout master was a good friend of the boy’s father and was continually telling him he was behaving badly towards that parent. One evening he screamed at the child and accused him of being disrespectful to his dad. The lad became hysterical and my friend had to rush over and pick up her son. Both collaborative solicitors accepted the therapist’s advice to drop scouts. At school, I occasionally overhear pupils asking a kid about an absent parent. I quickly change the subject and bring up a topic, such as the upcoming science fair or school concert. When you see a child of divorce is uncomfortable or is in a bad spot, please come to their aid.

Personify kindness and be non-judgemental when being around children of divorce. Do not try to reunite a child with a parent as that is not your business. Be supportive to children and let them know you are happy to listen. A divorce is between two adults and is not a free-for-all, with others getting involved. Hold your opinions and judgements when talking to children of divorce, especially when it is about their parents. If people think before they open their mouths in general, the world would be a better place.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine   thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Parenting Tips For Disciplining Kids With ADHD

Parenting Tips For Disciplining Kids With ADHDParenting a child with ADHD can be hectic, especially when you’re trying to find a healthy balance between your work and family life.

By definition, kids with ADHD frequently have trouble staying on task, controlling their impulses, sitting still and even following direction. Thanks to these unique symptoms and behavioral issues, discipline tactics that are effective on other kids might not be suitable for those with ADHD.

Parents of such kids need to seek out discipline strategies that will help their children to not only keep out of mischief but also learn how to control and manage their symptoms.

Here are some tips on how to best manage kids with ADHD and get them to follow your rules:

1. Provide daily doses of positive attention.

Children with ADHD can be exhausting to keep up with. They seem to have an unending supply of energy coupled with a desire to talk constantly and this can tire out the most patient among us.

However, in order to curb attention-seeking behavior, practice giving your child focused positive attention. Spending even 30 minutes daily playing and bonding together brings you closer and makes your discipline more effective.

2. Give simple and clear instructions.

Rattling out chain commands for kids with ADHD to follow isn’t a good idea as they have notoriously short attention spans. A better approach is to give simple clear instructions.

To make your instructions more effective, get your child’s attention by establishing eye contact, then say something like, “Please put your toys away.” Have your child repeat what you’ve said to make sure they’ve understood. This works better than giving multiple instructions at once.

3. Motivate good behavior with positive reinforcement.

A little praise when your child does something good goes a long way. It motivates and encourages them. This is especially important for kids with ADHD as they require frequent feedback. When doling out praise, make it specific. So instead of saying, “Good job,” say, “ Great job putting away all your toys after playing with them.”

4. Pick your battles wisely.

Kids with ADHD usually exhibit attention-seeking behavior. They may make loud noises, whine or otherwise try to interrupt you. Rewarding such obnoxious behavior with attention only encourages it to continue.

On the other hand, constantly disciplining your child for mild misbehavior can make them feel like they can’t do anything right. Allowing some minor misdemeanors to slide helps keep the peace sometimes.

5. Use a reward system to keep your kid on track.

Another great way to encourage children with ADHD to stay on task is by rewarding them. These kids get bored if they have to wait for their rewards for a long time so a token economy system would work perfectly. This way, your child earns tokens throughout the day for good behavior and these can be redeemed later for rewards like more screen time or a playdate.

When it comes to disciplining kids with ADHD, some creativity and a whole lot of love and patience will produce the desired results.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

 

7 Things Single Parents Must Do to Keep Their Sanity with Teenagers

7 Things Single Parents Must Do to Keep Their Sanity with TeenagersBeing a single parent to little kids ain’t easy. Being one to teenagers? Even harder. For most parents this is uncharted territory that comes with a whole new style of stress that is so different from how parenting was before the dreaded thirteen benchmark was breached. It doesn’t help that we so often try to compensate as single parents by trying to be Super Mom or Super Dad and do it all.

You have a lot on your plate, but it is crucial that you still take some time for yourself. Otherwise you can be sure of burnout nipping at your heels. This will make you a less effective parent and a more stressed person, in general.

Here are seven things you can do to keep your sanity through the teen years, by making some adjustments to your priorities.

Find The Humor In It – Next time you are getting ready to confront the kids, save your breath. Try and laugh it off and let it go. It saves you time and stress.

Don’t Panic – Tempted to fly off the handle and begin panic-fixing all the issues your teen just brought you? Go for a walk. Cool off. You will probably find a better solution that won’t take so much effort.

Let Them Fail – It is ten at night and your teen just told you they had a science project due. Don’t come to the rescue, sacrificing your sleep to get them out of the bind. Let them fail…it is a good life lesson.

Start Giving More Responsibility – Don’t have any time to take for yourself? Start handing more responsibility to your teen. Not only does this free up your schedule, but it begins to prepare them for the adult world they are rapidly approaching.

Balance Parenting With Friendship – You are their parent, not their friend. Right? Well, you can actually be both. By looking at the time you spend with your teens as also being pleasant time with friends, you may find yourself relaxing more in their presence.

Have “Office Hours” – Obviously, important matters have to be addressed right away. But short of that, set times when you are “in the office” and times when you are “out of the office”. When you’re out, they fend for themselves.

Get Active and Stay Active – Yoga, running, swimming, hiking, sports, weight lifting…whatever if it you enjoy that keeps you active, get out there and do it. Not only is this great “me” time, but it is a way to stay healthy, relieve stress and improve things like sleep and energy levels.

Having teenagers is stressful, but it is also an opportunity to begin taking better care of your own needs. By taking some time for yourself you will be a more effective parent and happier, healthier and ready for anything thrown your way.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Banish First-Day Jitters: Tips for Heading Back to School

tildaWho doesn’t love the magic that only summer vacation promises? However, as those relaxing summer days come to an end, it’s never too early to talk and listen to your children about their hopes and concerns for the first day of school. First-day jitters are normal for kids and their parents. Often, it’s the fear of the unknown and those “what-ifs” that jangle the nerves. Incorporate these suggestions as the summer’s end marches closer.

Out with the Old  

Set aside a day or two to go through last year’s clothing and supplies to see what works; make piles of items to keep, toss, and donate. Check with local churches or other organizations to find back-to-school supply and clothing drives; donate your child’s outgrown and gently used things.

Plan and Adjust Those Schedules  

Many kids scale back extracurricular activities during the summer. As late August approaches, tackle logistics by sitting down with everyone to coordinate each day. Use a dry-erase weekly calendar to track activities. Discuss educational nuts and bolts like homework routines so they’re kept consistent. For older kids and families, synch everyone’s calendar apps so you’re all on the same page. If your kiddo plays a sport or has a job, make sure to account for the time those activities require while also ensuring your child gets enough sleep.

Easier (If Not Happier) Mornings  

Elementary-aged kids need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. Before school resumes, start your kiddo on a regular bedtime and wake-up routine to reduce first-day stress. Pack lunches and backpacks, and lay out outfits the night before. Plan breakfasts ahead of time, too.

Back-to-School Prep  

Not much trumps the excitement of shopping for brand new school supplies. Get the kids involved! Schedule a date day to take your kiddo shopping for new clothing and shoes; make it extra-special with a “just the two of you” lunch or ice cream treat to celebrate a new beginning — and all those new supplies and clothes!

Many school supply lists include a request for headphones. Many over-the-ear options, which are better for little ears, are relatively inexpensive; you can find a good pair for less than $100. It’s a worthwhile investment your kiddo can use while listening to music, playing online games, or completing online exercises for school.

Help Calm Anxiety  

When your child’s a bit anxious about his new teacher or new school, stay positive. Attend an open house, especially if it’s scheduled before the new year starts, so you and your child can meet the new teacher and get acclimated to the school. Encourage your kiddo to get excited about the new year by reminding him about past trips, projects, and fun events — and upcoming opportunities to learn cool stuff this year.

Know other kids in your child’s class? Set up a few playdates before school’s back in session so that the kids can reconnect. It’s a great way to rekindle friendships, especially if the kids haven’t seen each other all summer.

Smoothing the Transition for Younger Students  

Younger children who are moving to a different school or starting school for the first time have other fears and anxieties that you calm with these suggestions.

If your kiddo attended the same school last year but has moved to a new grade/new teacher, remind her of the routine, and invite her to share the differences and fun changes to anticipate. If it’s her first year, visit the school a few times — check out the playground and see if it’s open and whether you can take a tour, even if you’ll attend orientation. The more she sees the school, the less she’ll worry on the first “official” day.

Create a goodbye routine that may include a special goodbye phrase. Plan something special to celebrate the end of the first day — a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies waiting at home or dinner at her favorite restaurant.

Although it’s still too soon time to trade swimsuits for backpacks, remind your kids that the upcoming school year promises a different kind of discovery, exploration, and fun — and that nerves are normal, too!

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

 

How To Help Children Going Through Grief During Divorce

It may appear that children are adjusting well to their parents’ divorce, however they may be going through grief and hiding it. They do not want to be an extra burden to stressed-out parents. The youngsters’ world is being torn apart and they may be struggling. We are preoccupied with out divorce proceedings and can miss what is really going on with the kids. Through no fault of their own, the children often have to pack up their possessions for a move which may entail going to a new school. Divorce involves loss which includes financially, possibly resulting in a few activities having to be eliminated.

The stages of grief, according Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who wrote the classic book On Death and Dying, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At first, youngsters can be in shock hearing the divorce news, especially when a couple drifted apart without a flaming row. Give them some space and a little time to absorb this new situation. The kids need time to process their emotions and realize what aspects of their lives will remain unchanged. It helps to have them talk to a neutral third party, especially when in denial, thinking the separation will blow over and their parents will be getting back together. Children may be in denial because the future looks uncertain. Having a divorce book for children, such as Soila Sindiyo’s When Love is Broken can be reassuring.

The kids may be quite angry, act out, or voice the unfairness of it all. Accept that anger is a natural part of the grief cycle, for both parents and offspring. It is how anger is expressed which is important. Going around the house smashing china is not okay, but sparring with a punching bag is. Give the wee ones opportunities to release anger through physical activities. Allow extra playtime in the park or taking up a sport. Venting to a family friend or teacher can be cathartic for the children.

Explain that while the marital relationship is ending, you both will be co-parenting together. It is crucial to let kids know that they are in no way responsible for their parents’ break up. In the bargaining stage, kids may think “If only I do… then my parents will stay together.” Help youngsters not to blame themselves for the divorce and to accept that they cannot fix the marriage. Divorce is happening.

Depression is often defined as anger turned inwards. Children may feel helpless and become depressed. They may experience sadness especially in a prolonged, acrimonious divorce. The kids may hide depression and just go along with the program. If seeming out of sorts, consider having them meet with a professional for at least one session to assess how they are coping. One of my sons was diagnosed with depression during divorce and had therapy to get him through it. He is a jovial fellow now.

Eventually kids come to acceptance in the grief cycle. They realize that divorce is not just dark storm clouds, but also ones with a silver lining. My father remarried a few years after divorce and as an only child, I was delighted to acquire an instant extended family. That was my silver lining. My new grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins treated me as one of the tribe.

There are ways to help kids move through divorce. Plan special outings – such as going to a carnival (my son’s suggestion), an amusement park or playground. We watched comedies, walked in parks, went bowling and had some adventures. My late mum loved traveling, so the boys and I accompanied her on cruises during and post-divorce. There is nothing like the sea air to get one out of the doldrums. See what works out best for your situation, such as taking up a sport together. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage youngsters to express their feelings. It helps people to know that experiencing grief during divorce is normal and life does get better.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine   thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Why Staying Together For The Sake Of The Children Is Not Always Best

Parents sometimes feel that they are doing their children a favour by staying together instead of getting a divorce. Are two parents in the house better than in two separate households? Not according to a study done in the UK. 82% of children stated it was better for their parents to separate than stay together because of them. Emotions are contagious which means kids pick up on the unhappiness and tension in the home. Parents may erroneously feel that their angry or hurt feelings are well hidden behind smiling masks. Youngsters are smart and figure out that something is not right between their parents. My sons asked me for several years why I waited so long to get a divorce. My parents screamed at each other behind a closed door when I was a toddler. They divorced when I was four and it seemed like Christmas every day afterwards.

Some couples claim that they are staying together for the sake of the kids when the real reason is fear of the unknown. Consider consulting a professional if this might be the case. If wondering if you would have enough money post-divorce, meet with a financial advisor or career coach. They can look at your assets and financial state to give an idea what to expect. A relationship therapist can help you sort out the pros and cons with staying or divorcing plus give support. One grandmother was afraid if she divorced that it would affect how much she could see her grandkids. A reality check helped her to follow what was really in her heart.

In the same study by the charity Resolution, 31% of the children were upset about their parents putting the other one down in their presence. This draws kids into one’s divorce drama. If they defend the absent parent, the one criticizing may get angry. If they are silent that may be perceived as agreement with the criticism. It puts the youngsters in an uncomfortable position. Nearly 90% of the children felt that their parents needed to stop making the divorce process seem as if they had to take sides. Even if a third party is involved in the divorce – do not talk about them to the youngsters.

Children know that they got half of their DNA from each of you. Trashing the other parent may be misconstrued that part of them is bad, mentally ill or whatever you said about the other parent. I told my sons that each of us made some mistakes and look at what did and did not work. Use that information to become fantastic parents themselves someday. It is okay not to mention the other parent at all. I still do not talk about their father, but will listen without commenting if they feel the need to speak about him. Some people can co-parent wonderfully together and others cannot for various reasons. I interviewed former spouses in the school setting regarding their secret to being able to co-parent so well. All stated “we put our egos aside.” Fabulous advice. Make “doing what is best for the children” be your motto.

When splitting up, keep in mind that you have needs too. It is easy to let friends fall to the wayside when struggling through the divorce process. This is when you need a support system the most. Make some time to be connected with others – even if for a quick latte. One accountant who was swamped with end of tax season work, went off to see a movie. She said when life is most stressful, that is the time for a short break to get one’s batteries recharged and get rejuvenated. Just as you require some fun built into your schedule, so do the kids. They need to blow off steam, get away from the divorce situation and just be kids. Think of some enjoyable activities – a carnival, bowling, ice cream, white water rafting etc.

Shake up the rituals that you did when married with a different twist post-divorce. Go to different restaurants and venues to replace old memories with new ones. I was trying to keep many of the same routines post-divorce with my sons. After they commented about the unpleasant times spent in places that we went while still married, it was my wake up call for a ritual overhaul. We stopped going to the old restaurants and replaced them with lively cafes and coffee houses. We found different travel destinations which were exciting. A way to get over the past is to have new adventures. If fear is holding you hostage, there are professionals who will hold your hand all through the divorce process and guide you every step of the way.

Originally  published in Splitsville    splitsville.com   which is a social utility where you’ll connect with others,
swap stories, get ideas, solutions and much more.

Helping Adult Sons And Daughters Cope With Your Divorce

Adult sons and daughters are sometimes an overlooked group when it comes to divorce. Support is given to youngsters with more people looking out for them, such as teachers and coaches. Although adult offspring may have encouraged unhappy parents to split – it is not okay to utilize them as sounding boards or guidance counsellors. Parents can fall into the trap of using their grown up kids as a confidant. Thirty years post-divorce, my friend’s father felt the need to spill the ugly details of the reason behind their divorce. Lena vaguely remembered something about her mum had an affair. Hearing the lurid tales about it was quite upsetting, with her dad stating that he was only telling her this “To set the record straight.” These big kids are not to be privy to divorce details even years later, when in their fifties.

Although they are adults, these individuals are still dealing with divorce issues. These sons and daughters may be losing their family home which is jarring even when living many kilometres away. This means sorting through their childhood memorabilia in the midst of angry parents divvying up personal assets. They need some space away from both parents. Having distance is helpful in processing their mixed emotions, especially if the divorce news was a jolt out of the blue.

An adult son or daughter may appear to have it altogether, but can be hurt little kids inside. Do not assume they are alright – ask if they are okay. They may be afraid to burden you with their unresolved issues, so encourage them to express their feelings to friends. Having a talk with their godparent or older family friend can be therapeutic. If they are floundering, a divorce coach can help them deal with the divorce situation.

Just as with young ones, do not criticize their other parent, or make it seem as if they have to choose sides. Do not ask them to deliver messages or put them on the spot with questions about the other parent. If you are divorcing their step-parent do not put them down. Your child has their own separate relationship with a step-parent and may desire continuing it after the divorce. They do not want to shut the door to it, by becoming your cheering squad during your divorce. I know of a few biological parents who tried to coerce their adult offspring to end step-parent relationships by insinuating it was a matter of loyalty. That does not work.

Your adult offspring may have their own youngsters who are trying to come to terms with the divorce. Reassure your grandchildren that they are not losing grandparents, but will see you separately. You will still have fun times. Think about continuing the rituals that they enjoy doing with you. It may be baking holiday goodies or puttering around in the garden. Some newly divorced grandparents encouraged the parents to take some holidays away together while they stayed and babysat. Their single status gave them more flexibility in taking care of grandchildren. Others take a grandchild on a short jaunt (with written parental permission).

It will take a load off your son or daughter’s mind if they realize their parents are coping well after a late in life divorce. Let them know about the fun times you are having and the fascinating people you are meeting. Then they do not feel that they have to be your source of entertainment. Moving on and showing others that you are enjoying your new life is a gift to your children. They have enough on their plate without constantly worrying about how you are doing post-divorce. Reassure your adult offspring that you are fine. Think about having an adventure such as ticking a destination off your Bucket List.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

The Difference Parents Can Make In Their Teen’s Depression

The Difference You Can Make In Your Teen's DepressionIn 2016, suicide moved up the list from third to second leading cause of death in teenagers. Think about that for a second…teenagers are killing themselves more than ever and it is terrifying as a parent to realize that we have children in this age range.

Teen depression is a serious problem. In a world that seems programmed to make them doubt themselves, just developing a healthy self image seems like an insurmountable undertaking. Add in other factors like divorce, a difficult co-parent or trauma and the list of potential triggers for serious teenage depression becomes longer and longer.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Teen Is Depressed?

Changes in appetite, increased or decreased sleep, apathy, sudden bouts of crying, isolation, signs of self harm….these are all signals of depression in a teenager. If you have noticed any of them, or a combination of these or other symptoms, you probably feel very anxious.

But studies have shown that your are a lifeline for your teen and your support is critical in their health and success. Here are some ways you can make a difference in your teen’s depression.

  • Listen To Them Speak Honestly – One of the hardest thing to do is speak openly and honestly to someone about how you’re feeling. With a child, they have to worry about changing the way you look at them. Show your teen that they can be open and speak without being judged.
  • Don’t Punish Them For Their Feelings – Feelings are impossible to just ignore and yet we will so often push them away out of fear of the consequences. Your teen could be afraid to share their feelings because you may punish them for what they express. Make it clear you would never do that.
  • Recognize That It Isn’t Up To You To “Fix” Them – You are a parent and you probably see it as your job to fix things for your kids. But their emotions and mental health belong to your teen. Don’t make them feel pressure to lie and say they are fine so you can feel like you are fixing their issues.
  • Get Them Involved In External Activities – Isolation is a common symptom of depression and also one that can make the depression worse. Try to get your teen involved in activities they once enjoyed, even if they push back at first. Sometimes you have to force them to interact with others, for their own mental health.

Seek Professional Help

All of the above tips won’t stop the depression, they will only support your child. Professional help may be necessary, especially if other conditions exist. Don’t be afraid to turn to a therapist or doctor.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Tips On Finding Summer Programs For Children

Summer is here and the yearly dilemma for parents can be what to with the children. Many single parents rely on school and after care while they are at work. When school is not in session, this can be a challenge. Non-profits can offer summer programs at low cost to fill this gap. An accountant mentioned that summer programs can be eligible for a “Child independent care credit” when a working parent has an income. This means that some of the money spent on programs counts as child care for a tax break.

A rabbi whom I interviewed, suggested calling one’s local synagogue or Jewish Community Center (JCC) to see what is being offered for children. She said that there were sleep-away camps, particularly in the Northeast. A woman at the JCC, said in larger communities there are day programs. The JCC can also be a resource for what else is available where one resides. The Protestants and Catholics have Vacation Bible School which gives parents a break when they need some child care.

There are non-religious options, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs. The one I contacted charges $700 for the entire summer or $350/month. This is all day sessions which includes food and many activities. Local community colleges and recreation centers have their own programs which can be a little less than other day camps. There are programs for special interests, such as chess camp, with a low fee so that all can attend. These people do it for the love of chess (or whatever it is) and to get youngsters excited about it too.

Summer provides the chance to take advantage of the special family events around town. Go to street fairs and festivals to enjoy the lively atmosphere, music and great food. This is almost like being on vacation in Greece, Africa or other exotic locales. Many parks have concerts which is a nice opportunity to have a picnic with the kids. Some cities show movies outside with food carts nearby. Play tourist in your own city. It is amazing how many people have not been to museums, the planetarium, zoo or other attractions right on their own door step. Go to a larger metropolis nearby or the countryside for a change of scenery. There is an artist colony on the periphery of our city. My sons and I feel as if we have been on vacation after browsing through the offbeat shops and indulging on homemade ice cream plus other treats.

Get away, whether it is to the shore, lakeside cabin or a farm nearby. My mother took me to Wildwood, New Jersey every summer. Swimming in the ocean and walking along the boardwalk created lasting memories for me. When parents and other relatives live out of town, going for a visit can be an affordable adventure. There are new places for the kids to discover. My sons were thrilled to visit a farm near the city where my mother lived. The tractor and fabulous milkshakes were an extra bonus. They picked blueberries and strawberries which is not possible on their home turf. What may seem like a mundane activity to you can be a unique experience for your child.

Some single parents send their children to their parents for a chunk of the summer and use that time to work extra hours. They accumulate more time off to spend with their youngsters upon their return. Or, when their offspring is with the other parent, they put in overtime and have more days off with the little ones. My mother sent me to sleep away camp for several weeks every summer and worked during that period. I had a blast and she was off when I was home. Camps can be pricy, so perhaps make them a special treat and not the main course for their summer break.

A young teenager may be too old for summer programs and too young for employment. Parents in this case recommended a membership to the local pool or recreation center. This gets them out of the house and interacting with others. Some children’s museums and other program invite this age group to be a junior intern and entertain the young campers. My sons did the summer reading programs at our library with other activities, such as magic shows. Young teens were on hand to make this program a success. These individuals can be volunteers for various charities during their summer break. My sons volunteered with a cat rescue group and that encouraged me to become one too.

Make the most of each moment during the summer, because one day your little ones will be in their twenties just as my sons are now.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)

Ways To Help Children Cope With A Difficult Parent

Dealing with a difficult parent

Children need support when a parent is bitter and vindictive post-divorce. The mum or dad may have a personality disorder and are incapable of parenting in a nurturing way. When a difficult parent takes centre stage and the youngsters treated as bit players, it is important to explain that it is not their fault. Children need to know that when indifference is shown or caustic remarks overheard, it is the parent’s issue, and not them causing it. When a parent is toxic, kids can be quick to blame themselves. It is a balancing act to get support for your children while at the same time not making disparaging remarks yourself about their other parent. Give children extra cuddles and attention. Let then know that they are loveable. Point out their talents and strengths as one way to build up self-esteem which may have been affected by being around negativity.

Discuss various strategies on how to deal with problems in an uncomfortable situation

My sons got angry hearing nasty comments about me, from their father and his mother. There were ways to handle it, such as by using “I statements.” “I don’t want to hear…..” Other ideas were they could quickly change the subject or walk away to somewhere else. The boys had specific actions which helped them to feel more empowered.

Supportive people

Have a neutral third party available who can listen to the children’s concerns when time spent with a toxic parent is not going well. My sons reported this continual situation to their therapist and to the court appointed mediator, who was overseeing shared time post-divorce. This situation did improve slightly when their father realized that professionals were looking over his shoulder. Supervised visitation or at a Children’s Contact Centre may be warranted, when a parent is using the children to get back at the other one. If children do not feel safe, then visitation is not productive.

Connections

When it is hard to deal a parent out for revenge, my older son suggested connecting to a Higher Power – whatever is in your belief system. Singing in the choir and spirituality gave him support from something outside of himself. Divorce support groups for children help them to realize that they are not alone. Connections with others, such as through sports or after school activities lead to positive experiences.

Volunteering

Volunteering takes the focus off your child’s situation. One teenager felt appreciated when taking care of cats who depended upon him at a rescue charity. It increased his self-worth when he felt needed. Another teen was a chess coach at a primary school. Watching the youngsters become enthusiastic about chess under his guidance was gratifying. Being called “The chess god” was a nice bonus. Both of these fellows had a rough time with a parent post-divorce, and volunteering helped life to be happier.

Life is about balance

We may be stressed by divorce and have a serious outlook. Children require fun, especially when going through tough periods. They need play and some unstructured time for creative pursuits. Take them to the park, the beach, to a festival or whatever your family enjoys. Kids will get through dealing with a difficult parent easier, when the other one is relaxed and full of fun. That is how my sons made it through their stressful situation. We watched comedies, took holidays, gave back to others through volunteering and maintained connections to people. Make sure to take care of yourself, so that you have the energy to be there for your children.

This article was originally published in The Divorce Magazine  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Teaching Teens to Love Themselves From the Inside Out

girl-1848477_960_720Teens, and especially teenage girls, often suffer with body image issues brought on by multitude of factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include puberty-induced weight gain and media portrayal of the ideal female body.

A healthy body image is vital for overall physical and mental health and development. As a parent, you will play an important role in helping your child learn to love themselves and to be comfortable in their body. It starts with loving yourself. After all, your children will learn their behaviors from you, and if you constantly express dissatisfaction with your own body, how are they to learn to love theirs?

Talking about body image  

While it may be uncomfortable, you must realize that, as your teen is developing physically, they are also becoming more aware of their own sexuality. This is where most body image issues begin. Talk to your children about the changes that will happen as they exit childhood and begin to experience puberty. Weight gain is a normal part of this process. It is not uncommon, however, for young children to display signs of having a negative body image. This is especially true of kids who display characteristics of self-criticism and perfectionism.

Social media messages  

Media, especially social media, is full of other people’s opinions on the perfect body. And since teenagers are spending more and more time in front of the screen, they begin to believe that the unrealistically thin Instagram model they follow exhibits the only possible traits associated with beauty. When social media impacts a child’s body image, it may be time to unplug. Monitor your child’s Internet usage and, if possible, limit her exposure to those platforms that make her question her physique.

Boys have body image issues, too  

The Atlantic recently featured an editorial on body image issues in boys. Don’t overlook your son and his struggles with self-esteem. Unlike girls, boys tend to focus on gaining weight, specifically muscle mass. Another body image issue for young men is the constant struggle to display masculinity.

The dark side of the quest for perfection  

Body image issues can trigger a host of other problems for teenagers. These include depression and social anxiety and may turn in to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a mental health condition characterized by distress over a particular aspect of the body. Tara Well, Ph.D. goes into greater detail on BDD in this Psychology Today post. Concerns over body image can also trigger eating disorders. There are many different types of eating disorder. The most common are anorexia and bulimia. Warning signs of these include weight fluctuations, extreme weight loss and avoiding social situations that revolve around food. If you suspect an eating disorder, pay close attention to your teen’s behavior. If he or she disappears or regularly visits the bathroom after eating, this could be a sign of purging (intentional vomiting in an effort reduce the amount of calories consumed).

If you suspect an eating disorder it’s imperative to get help immediately. Unhealthy eating habits can cause cardiovascular issues, slowed digestion, constipation, and neurological disorders. The National Eating Disorder Association also reports that eating disorders can wreak havoc on the body’s endocrine system, resulting in lowered levels of vital hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and those that control the thyroid.

Embracing diversity  

Finally, your children should be taught to embrace diversity. Remind them that the world is comprised of people from all walks of life. People come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses that shape who they are. Help teens find those things that make them unique.

Body image issues don’t have to ruin your teen’s life. Help him or her learn to love their body, and you’ll set them on a path toward a healthy future.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information

5 Simple & Fun Family Bonding Activities

5 Simple & Fun Family Bonding Activities - Copy (2)   Ways To Bond With Your Children

Did you know the number of divorces has gone down since the 1990’s? It’s true, there are fewer divorces now in the United States than there have been in two decades. But that is little comfort to families who go through it and you might be feeling as though your bond with your children has been compromised in the face of the emotion and stress even the most amicable splits bring.

It is important to nurture your family with quality time. Not only will it help to keep your family close during hard times, but give your children the support they need to adapt and grow. It brings positivity to their daily life (and yours).

Here are five easy, fun activities that you can do with your family to help bring you closer together.

Cook a Meal

Every week my family and I spend the evening making individual pizzas with our favorite toppings, then after dinner we watch a movie. It is the perfect weeknight activity that gives us a chance to spend time together, talk, and do something relaxing at the end of a long day.

Cooking a meal is such a simple way to connect and a lot of fun, too.

Take a Hike

Living in Utah, I consider myself so very lucky. We have trails everywhere, gorgeous mountains, endless lakes…it is an outdoors lovers dream. We try and get out once a month to hike a new trail all together.

It is an adventure each time and my kids love taking pictures on their phones to post on Snapchat to their friends. It has even gotten a few of their buddies involved and hiking with us!

Find the natural beauty where you live and explore it as a family.

Game Night

Whether it is video games or board games, a bit of friendly competition is a lot of fun. There are so many options, as well. RPG tabletops, card games, multiplayer video games…you can find several that will tickle your family’s fancy.

You just might find that game night becomes the favorite night of the week!

Volunteer Together

A less popular, yet amazing, option for bonding time. Volunteering is a way of helping a cause, doing some good, assisting others and still spending time together. All while teaching lessons of empathy and gratitude.

Soup kitchens, nature cleanups, animal shelters…you can find something that works for your family.

Find Local Meetups

Families will often get together for fun activities as a group a few times a month. That might be potluck dinners, park days or local events. It is worth checking websites like Meetup.com for information on what is happening in the neighborhoods around you.

All it takes is a bit of time and creativity and you will be overflowing with ideas on how to spend time and bond with your kids!

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

 

Tips For New Graduates To Land Their First Job

Getting that first job is a critical step into future careers, but all too often it can be a real catch 22: all jobs seem to require experience, yet you need to get a job to gain that experience. It can leave you feeling very frustrated and wondering what to do next.

If that sounds like you, don’t worry – with our expert tips you will be able to find and secure that all important first job in no time.

Finding a job opportunity

When you are relatively inexperienced in job searching it can be hard to even find opportunities that might be relevant. It can pay to be a bit creative here; there are jobs available, it’s just a case of finding them (or even making them appear). Here are some suggestions:

  • Job adverts are probably the most obvious options – there are many websites that advertise jobs (indeed.com, monster.co.uk, reed.com etc.). This is good in that it lets you see the types of jobs that are out there, but often the competition can be particularly high when jobs are advertised in this way. Not all organisations advertise their opportunities, so if there’s an opportunity you’re particularly interested in, make a list of employers in that area and check their websites directly.
  • Graduate schemes are eternally popular for fresh graduates, but they’re not for everyone. Not only are they really competitive, a lot of people may find that the nature of the work might not suit them, that said there are many jobs available and it’s always worth taking a look at sites like www.prospects.ac.uk.
  • Internships/work experience are great for getting a foot in the door of your career – particularly if you want to work in the creative industries. However, these are often unpaid which can leave you with a dilemma – if you can afford to work for free then this can really open doors for you. Some organisations do pay interns so it is worth looking around for these.
  • Directly approaching employers can be surprisingly successful. If you want to work in a particular field, then it can be worth sending your CV and a covering letter to a number of organisations in that area. You can improve your chances of success by making sure the letter is addressed to a particular person, and following up with a phone call.
  • Use your network. Don’t be shy to ask people to give you a job or even introduce you to potential employers. It can be useful to draw a network diagram highlighting all of the people you/family/close friends know who might be able to help you. LinkedIn is also good for this.

Acing an assessment

Once you’ve got an invitation to a selection event/interview you’re halfway there – next you need to secure the position. If you’ve never had a (successful) interview in the past you need to spend some time preparing. Here are some useful suggestions:

Research the company. Make sure you know all about the company and the job; you need to be able to talk intelligently about this. Take a look at the organisation’s website, do a google search, talk to people who already work there. Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • Why do you want this role?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Who do you see as our main competitors?

Package up your experience. You are going to need to talk about yourself and what you can bring to this role. If you haven’t had a job in the past then this can seem quite hard, but don’t worry, you will probably have plenty of relevant experiences to draw upon. The key here is to look for the specific competencies (or knowledge, skills and experience) the organisation is looking for; you’ll be able to find these in the job description or advert.

Let’s look at an example. Perhaps an organisation is looking for experience in ‘Planning and Organising’. Whilst you might not have experience of doing this in the workplace, you probably do have experience of doing this elsewhere. Maybe you had to complete a project or dissertation as part of your studies. How can you relate the things you did to achieve this to competency of ‘Planning and Organising’? Did you make a to do list? Add items to your calendar? Make a plan? These are all good indicators that you can do this so make sure you are really selling the experience you do have.

Practice, practice, practice. We get better at things when we practice and getting jobs is no exception. Get someone to do a mock interview with you so that you know what it feels like to be in that situation. Make sure they give you feedback so that you know how to improve the next time. Lots of careers services offer this for free, but if that isn’t available to you, ask friends or family. There are also organisations or individuals who offer mock interviews and you can find them on google.

Some jobs require you to complete psychometric tests of ability as well as an interview. These tests present you with a number of problems and ask you to solve them within a specified time period. They typically include Numerical, Verbal or Abstract Reasoning. These tests can be tricky and feel very different to things you might have done before, so sitting some practice papers and getting some advice about how to answer the questions is really important this guide is a good place to start.

Manage your impact. It is really important to make a good first impression in an interview, here are some ideas to help you do this:

  • Dress smartly and ensure you are well presented. Neat and tidy is what we’re aiming for here so keep hair styling and make up elegant, and wear clean, smart and ironed clothes. Polish your shoes.
  • Be polite and friendly. Make eye contact and smile. Shake the hand of the interviewer and look at them when you are talking.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before the interview and have something light and healthy to eat before you go in, you need to make sure you have enough energy to perform well.

About the author:   Ed Mellett is an entrepreneur, careers professional and founder of practicereasoningtests.com. He is known for co-founding and launching the leading student and graduate careers website wikijob.co.uk. Now in its 11th year, wikijob attracts over 400,000 unique users per month and is a must-visit resource for students considering their careers post-university. Ed’s other interests include AI, neuroscience and psychology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Children and Teens Conflict Resolution Tactics

Teaching Children and Teens Conflict Resolution TacticsIt goes without saying that divorce is difficult for everyone involved. Even when it is as civil and cooperative as possible, it is disruptive to the lives of both the divorcing parties and those around them. Children are especially affected and a divorce can lead to emotional and behavioral issues that are difficult to address.

But in spite of its difficulties, a divorce can be the perfect time for a teaching moment. Your teen is facing a lot of stress in their life, not only related to the changes happening in your home and family. Teaching them coping strategies can help them along the way. Also, as you are going through the process of conflict resolution, you can teach them right alongside you.

Why Young People Fight

Listening to your teen or adolescent talk about their day, you may have noticed a trend – there is a lot of drama. Welcome to the world of developing minds and social skills. Young people are prone to fighting and even outright cruelty.

Why is that? Part of it is the underdevelopment of certain areas of the brain, which includes risk assessment, emotional control, and impulse control. As they age and gain more experience, these parts of the brain will also grow and start to more impact their decision-making skills and ability to manage difficult emotions.

Until then, you can teach them alternative strategies for conflict resolution that help them avoid fighting, whether that is emotional or physical.

Effective Conflict Resolution Tactics

When teaching teenagers conflict resolution tactics, there are a couple tactics which are more effective than others.

  • Encourage communication. It may sound over-simplified, but most conflicts can be resolved through communication. Encouraging them to sit down and talk about their feelings and what they think is happening is an effective way of promoting a peaceful end of a fight. It also teaches how important listening can be, given how many conflicts are started from a miscommunication in the first place.
  • Ask them to consider the other point of view. “How would you feel if you were in their position?” This is one of the most powerful questions when dealing with a conflict. Children can become very focused on their own feelings and miss the fact that the other person has their own to deal with. By making them consider the other person, teens have a chance to build empathy.

While teens may have hot tempers due to a variety of circumstances, with patience, it is not impossible to teach them how correctly deal with conflict in their lives.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Keep Children’s Well-Being First During Divorce

Think about your children’s well-being in the midst of divorce, when you feel like going into battle with their other parent. Divorce results in the breakdown of the relationship between two adults. However, the fallout can greatly affect the little ones. An amicable divorce means that they go between two happier homes. A contentious one turns into war, with the youngsters getting caught in the crossfire.

Divorce triggers anger and hurt feelings. These emotions are expressed to the spouses’ lawyers, not to children. A way to keep kids out of the divorce is to decide on a similar mantra. Each parent says something along this line, “We are no longer marital partners, instead we will be co-parents” or “Divorce is between us. We still love you.” No mention of cheating or other vices. Just a simple message given by both parents.

Children want to be reassured that both of you will still be in the picture. No abandonment or feeling that they have to choose sides. A change in living arrangements will be happening. Even if one parent moves out of town, frequent contact and specified visitation will be arranged. Skype and phone calls can also be done between visitations, when both former spouses live in the same city.

Fear of the unknown can be frightening. Kids have vivid imaginations and can envision a worst-case scenario. They might dream up something that would never happen. They require reassurances that their lives will continue as before in many areas. Have a discussion with the children about their concerns, such as whether or not they will remain in the same school. Let them know that sports and after school activities will continue. They will still have their friends. Help kids to stay in touch with grandparents and relatives from both sides. This constancy in their lives will enable them to get through this crazy divorce period. Have them carry on with activities that have been enjoyable, such as helping Grandpa in the garden or baking cookies with Grandma.

I have heard parents congratulating themselves for “putting their children first” during and after divorce. What I have witnessed as a school nurse did not always jive with their noble intention. Plenty of students of divorcing parents ended up in my office with stress related conditions. Teachers have complained how the youngsters were bringing their parents’ divorce dramas into the classrooms. Fortunately in the schools, there are some well-adjusted children whose parents have divorced. These parents deserve five gold stars for co-parenting. What is their secret? “Put your ego aside.” This group revealed that they truly put their kids’ needs first. By being on the same page with the same philosophy, it made co-parenting easier. Ironically, some confided that the relationship between their former partner was better post-divorce.

Take a look at your situation. Are you saying anything at all about the other parent? Are you going into details regarding the divorce?  Please read more  http://www.divorcemag.com/blog/keep-kids-out-of-your-divorce-drama-focus-on-their-wellbeing

Ways to Help Your Teen Get Their First Job

thumbnail_WaystoHelpYourTeenGetTheirFirstJob - CopyMoney can be a touchy topic in any household, especially if you’re a single parent who’s been through a divorce. So nudging your teen to secure gainful employment can work out well for both of you.

As a parent, you can use your teen’s first job to prepare them for adult life, encourage their independence, and impart some lessons on life and personal finance. All these will serve your son or daughter well as they embark on becoming successful adults. Additionally, you’ll get some reprieve as your teen starts funding their individual interests and hobbies, easing the strain on your purse.

Your teen, on the other hand, will enjoy the freedom and independence brought about by earning personal cash. Securing a job and performing well could also give them a leg-up on their college applications, making them stand out from other applicants.

However, you should avoid pushing your teen to take a job that they’re unhappy or uncomfortable with just for the sake of a paycheck. This approach is likely to backfire and foster a negative attitude towards work.

So how do you go about helping your teen land a job? Start with these three tips:

1. Help your teen with their job search.

Sit down with your child and discuss their interests then compare that with the jobs that are available. Many teens are often disappointed to learn that entry-level jobs differ greatly from their dream jobs. Let your teen know that first jobs don’t necessarily have to be in line with their future careers and they won’t be stuck there forever.

Also don’t just assume that it’s easy to land a job or that your tech-savvy teen will know where to start their job search. Give them a helping hand to trawl through online job boards and pointers on how to correctly fill out any job applications. Remind them to respond promptly to any job offers they receive.

2. Help them get ready for their interview.

It is a good idea to hold mock interviews to practice interview skills with your teen so they become comfortable answering common interview questions. Also go over their expected body language (i.e., firm handshake, making eye contact) as well as their dress code. The latter is especially important because first impressions matter and your teen should make the most of it.

Additionally, encourage them to ask questions of their own to clear up anything they haven’t understood during the interview. This indicates their level of confidence and interest in the job.

3. Encourage a positive attitude and strong work ethic.

Your teen’s first job can be a drag sometimes, but they can still make the most of it. There’s always something they can learn, e.g. how to handle cranky customers professionally, how to work with people from different backgrounds, etc.

Encourage your teen to keep an open mind and positive attitude at work. Things like arriving promptly to work, being respectful to everyone, filling in for others when required and meeting work expectations will help them stand out and show their boss that they have what it takes to succeed.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

 

Family Travel Bucket List Destinations – Island Getaways

IMG_5944 Island Getaways that will please both children and parents. Guest author shares his tips and experiences for where to go on holiday.

Something I’ve spoken about before is the benefit of travel. By the time I was 25 I’d visited around 40 countries. This may seem a lot but considering there are upwards of 200 and the fact that I’ve met plenty of people who´ve surpassed 100 puts this figure in perspective. Of course travel shouldn’t be about quantity of places or ticking names off a list, quality of experience is much more valuable. I merely highlighted my relative travel experience to give some context in regards to my view point and hopefully some credence too!

I first left the UK when I was three. All I remember of Italy was a beautiful but stony beach; however that doesn’t mean to say there was no benefit in this experience. Being introduced to other cultures and countries at a young age definitely left an impression on me, it fed my longing for adventure as a young child. This developed in to wanderlust at a later age and has most certainly helped define who I am as an adult. The thing about travel is that no matter what your or your children’s fascinations are there is something for everyone. History, engineering, farming, art, culture, music, trekking, adventure, sports, relaxation and well-being, wildlife, science, food, architecture, religion and geography are all topics you can indulge in and learn about all over the world.

I previously emphasized the value of the precious family time and togetherness that a vacation provides, whilst simultaneously helping you de-stress and your children learn and grow. Now I’d like to give some more practicable and specific information pertaining to different destinations.

Once you become responsible for children of your own your ideal holiday destination changes in accordance with their likes and dislikes and also becomes dependent on what type of trip will give you the least stress! In the past I never understood the fascination people had with holiday resorts. For me they are never representative of the country you are visiting. Now I whole heartedly recognize the attraction. The ease in which they can booked, the reliable safety of the locations, the lack of issues to consider and the relative ease in which all the family can be pleased. However my experience on these types of trips is limited, what I’d like to do is give a breakdown on some unique bucket list holiday destinations. Even if you just managed to visit one of these places in your lifetime it will be a uniquely rewarding experience for everyone involved!

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Lesser Known Island Getaways

South East Asia

A well-trodden backpacking trail but still an area of the world filled with hidden gems and getaways that would make a special family trip. The first thing you’ll notice about South-East Asia is the price, it is incredibly cheap.

Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel around and is really quite a large country with plenty of tropical island paradise spots, Bali and the Gili Islands being the most famous but the nearby Lombok is my personal favourite. This lesser known cousin of Bali offers some postcard perfect beaches without the tourists. For the adventure seekers there is volcano trekking and also Indonesia is the only place in the world where you can see, in the wild, the planets biggest lizard and living dinosaur: the Komodo dragon. The nearby islands of Flores, Rinca and Komodo can be reached easily by boat for this excursion. Alternatively you shouldn’t pass on the opportunity for a boating day trip for snorkelling, diving or just island hopping!

The Philippines consists of over 7000 islands! You really are spoilt for choice here. Whether you’re interested in swimming with whale sharks, exploring forests full of the world’s smallest monkeys, hiking through traditional rice terraces or walking a picturesque beach at sunset on your own island, The Philippines is special. Less explored than traditional destinations such as Thailand, nevertheless The Philippines is on the rise as tourist hotspot. Manila is a nightmare of an airport but you can catch very economical internal flights to the white sands of Boracay, the turquoise waters of Palawan and everywhere in between. Island hopping in Palawan introduced me to the most perfect islands I’ve ever seen in my life.

Caribbean islands

A cruise can be fantastic for a family holiday but if you’re not ready to splash out and would prefer to see one or two islands in depth I can definitely make some suggestions.

Aruba is a beautiful island which much like Hawaii is easily traversable by car but can be managed in less time as it is a really small island (with a MUCH smaller population.) It is very safe and the whole population appears to be multi-lingual, fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento the local language, popular in the Dutch West Indies. To my ears this language sounds similar to Portuguese. There are beautiful uncrowded beaches in abundance and the locals are very friendly, amiable people. You will have no problem using US dollars here and for the adventure seeking there are plenty of options from renting dune buggy type vehicles to diving and water sports.

St Lucia is becoming a popular honeymoon spot for a reason. The island’s rugged dramatic scenery is attracting more and more visitors each year but yet St. Lucia remains far from overdeveloped and you get a real sense of nature and natural beauty here. Again English is widely spoken and the US dollar regularly accepted. Your time here can be spent relaxing or adventuring with all the family! Rainforest hikes, ziplining, volcanoes and waterfalls, this island has it all!

So there you have it, the first instalment of my unconventional family holiday bucket list destinations!

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

 

Creative Child Care Solutions As A Single Parent

It can be challenging juggling childcare as a single parent. The key is to have Plan B. Seems children get sick when a parent has a mandatory meeting or work project.   Enlist people ahead of time to be available in case of an emergency. Several parents I know have used up all of their stick leave on ill babies and toddlers. They learned the hard way to have someone on speed dial for that eventuality. Talk to a neighbour to see if they are able to be a last-minute fill in if your little one needs to come home from school. Possibly a friend who works from home can plug a childcare gap when you have to be on the job. You can reciprocate the favour another time.

If you have your own office it may be feasible to bring along an older child who is recovering. Pack books, art supplies and snacks. My insurance agent allows his secretary to have her son there after school every day while she does her tasks She has her boy go into the waiting area when a client needs to speak to her. Maybe you can make arrangements to work at home if your child has a stomach bug. Several offices permit older kids to take over the conference room during a bank holiday or short break. This helps the organizations to keep their employees on the job. Some hospitals and companies have nurseries, like the one I attended where my mother was a nurse. Ask co-workers how they are handling their childcare needs.

If you are able to negotiate with your co-parent, perhaps you can split up school holidays. Then neither one of you has to find childcare for the entire period. Some divorced people remain on good terms with former in-laws who are happy to babysit. They enjoy seeing the grandchildren and the single parent on a tight budget gets a break. In one case, a woman’s former mother-in-law watched her daughter and a divorced friend’s one also. The girls had great fun with that gran.

Talk to your friends and see if they are willing to share a nanny. Parents I know hired a caregiver who watches a group of children and rotates houses on a weekly basis. It is cheaper when more parents share a caregiver. I did this with my older son. One’s family can help out too. My mum did some of the school runs after my divorce.

If you and your friends are on flexible or different work schedules, consider watching each other’s kids. This also is helpful when you want a bit of time to yourself or to get errands done quickly. Check into what clubs or activities there are after school. Often, they are free or low cost. Scouts, sports and chess are a few of them. My mother sent me to sleep over or day camp when she wanted to pick up extra shifts as a nurse. Then she had a block of time to be off from the hospital to spend with me.

When married, I ran a medical practice plus was the nurse. Soon after my divorce I changed jobs within my profession that would better suit my childcare needs. I became a school nurse with a work schedule that coincided with my sons’ one. See if you can change jobs or tweak the one you already have. My solicitor that I hired for post-divorce issues, left the law office everyday by 4 pm to be with her young daughter. She returned e-mails or read documents when the girl was doing homework or in bed. Other people have been able to adjust their jobs to work part-time from home.

Your children’s teachers can be a resource for childcare. They are usually up-to-date on what is available in the community and may know individuals who babysit. There are web sites who post caregivers and their credentials. It seems like only a few months ago I was juggling childcare and now I have an Empty Nest.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

Vacations With Your Children In Their Twenties

image5 ship 2017Vacationing with your youngsters was easy. If they got tired of culture, a neighborhood park was fun. Watching squirrels and birds was a blast. Twenty somethings are more of a challenge to keep them amused. Going on vacation requires plenty of pre-planning for this age group. One friend says that her sons want to go to “hot spots to pick up chicks.” A trip to Iceland was fascinating for these young men. -hiking among waterfalls, over lava rocks and being awed by geysers. At night while she and her husband rested their old bones, the lads went clubbing. All were happy.

Choosing destinations that will keep older teens and ones in their twenties entertained is important.

A lovely resort on a small island was magical for my young sons. The children’s club was top-notch where they were exposed to Caribbean culture, songs and cooking. The boys learned about marine life while strolling along the beach and the rainforest was their outdoor classroom. Fast forward a decade. Two bored teens begged their former playroom teachers to let them come back with the little ones for various activities. Learned my lesson. We recently went to Dominican Republic which is a larger island with more action, such as ziplining. There is the Water World complex which has marine life, events and a casino. They were pleased. The mountains were breath-taking and that alone was enough for me.

Our latest trip to the Caribbean was a cruise. On quieter islands – more known for beaches than nightlife – my twenty something companions found entertainment on board. There were shows, games, dancing, and staff who were their ages. My older son befriended two who worked in the Dutch Café. He had been to their homeland, The Netherlands, and enjoyed talking with them every evening over cappuccino or beer. These lively young adults were the highlight of my son’s cruise. At the beginning of a cruise, there is a gathering scheduled for singles. On one, it was for twenty somethings only and this group hung out together most of the time.

Traveling with twenty somethings who have much younger siblings can be tricky.

The islands that we explored have attractions for a wide variety of ages. The brightly painted buildings in Curaçao are stunning. Its city Willemstad, one of the larger ones we visited, has an aquarium and maritime museum which are appealing. Wandering around the centuries old alleyways is an adventure in itself. The twenty somethings enjoyed the nightlife and the fireworks display. Aruba has a butterfly farm and a compact downtown area very close to the pier. Easy to navigate with a stroller and charming pubs with local brew for the young adults. We spent most of our time on Gran Turk at the beach. There is an informative exhibit of when astronaut John Glen landed here after being the first American to orbit Earth.

Bonaire is a paradise with water so clear one can look down and see beautiful tropical fish and coral. No wonder it is one of the dive capitals of the world. While older ones are part-taking in the plethora of water sports, the youngsters can splash around in the warm ocean. The shells, coral and beach glass washed ashore are amazing. To get to the city (Kralendijk) from the pier, one goes through the historical Fort Oranje whose walls are partially constructed with coral. The shops and cafes contained within these walls are patrolled by iguanas. Kids of varying ages will enjoy the craft markets particularly on Dominican Republic and Bonaire. Talking to the locals and seeing their wares was educational and fun at these venues.

A cruise is a good way to have a family reunion when there are three generations with various interests and energy levels. Look for resorts or hotels that have a kids ‘club, and activities, such as water sports. The older ones can learn surfing, go snorkelling and swim in deeper water. The wee ones enjoy sitting on the beach making sandcastles or playing with a plastic bucket and spade (which I would pack). For city adventures, the tots can be wheeled around in a stroller when exploring the new locale with the whole family. After doing sightseeing that is interesting to all, the older siblings can part ways to concentrate on what they want to do. Parents sometimes travel with a paid nanny to take the baby back for a nap or playtime. Others like me, bring along a granny. My mother would get tired tramping around ruins and museum at about the same time as my youngest. Those two would head back to the hotel or ship for down time.

Tips on making vacations more affordable.

  • US News & World Report has information on credit cards with no transaction fees creditcards.usnews.com/no-foreign-transaction-fee Make sure that you are billed in local currency on your credit card and not in US Dollars. The venders’ exchange rate is higher. My credit card is with an airline and I use it for almost all purchases. I get at least one free trip overseas each year.
  • Skip the expensive internet packages aboard ships. It is easy to find free Wi-Fi at coffee shops in ports and cities. Soft drink packages can also be pricey. Satisfy your craving ashore. If you are planning on cruising again, passengers can get extra discounts when booking for another one while still onboard.
  • Consider making purchases more in the middle of a city. In Curaçao, one son reported beer was almost half the price three streets from the harbor front. In Prague I paid more than double for crystal necklaces bought on the Old Town Square.
  • Consider booking directly with the hotel or wherever you are going. In London, I e-mail the hotel and since they know me, they give a much lower rate than available on any discount site. Book early for better prices. Be on an e-mail list for last minute deals. A friend and I went on a European river cruise when we were able to grab a cabin a week or so before departure.

When travelling with family of vastly different ages, pack your sense of humour and curiosity. Leave expectations at home.

 

 

 

 

How To Help Your Teen Deal With Anxiety About School

Anxiety is a common affliction, especially these days. Many of us feel it when we’re in public spaces, at school, or in a new situation. Sometimes it pops up when we’re not expecting it, and it can be difficult to get rid of. Coping with anxiety is tricky, especially when we don’t understand what’s at the root of it. For many teens, this feeling comes and goes, but for others, anxiety is a daily occurrence that can affect performance in school if not checked.   

It’s important, then, to talk to your teen about those feelings and let her know that it’s totally normal. Sometimes, feeling weird or different only adds to the anxiety, and it builds up until we hardly know ourselves anymore. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to identify it and learn how to handle it. Here are some of the best.   

Let her know it’s normal  

If your teen is experiencing anxiety and it’s affecting her at school, talk to her about what she’s feeling and let her know that it’s totally normal. The idea that she’s different than her peers may be contributing to the negative feelings, so assure her that, on average, about 1 in 5 young people deal with anxiety every day.   

Differentiate  

Help your teen learn that there’s a difference between feeling something and being her own person. Those feelings of anxiety are not tied to her personality; they are temporary and will go away, whereas her ideas, thoughts, and personality are all her own.   

Listen   

Because school is such a big part of a teen’s life, having anxiety about some aspect of it can affect many different things, such as academic performance, sleep, eating habits, behavior, and can even cause physical issues that seem like an illness, such as stomach trouble or shaky hands. Talk to your teen and listen to the things that make her feel worried or negative, then help her figure out the best way to overcome those feelings. If she’s scared she won’t get good test scores for college, help her study or set her up with a tutor. Let her know that you’re there for her and that you’ll get through the exams together.   

Get help  

Sometimes anxiety comes on so strong it requires therapy or counseling. Don’t be afraid to talk to your teen about seeking support from a counselor or therapist who is trained to handle these things. There may be some resistance at first, but having a conversation with someone who understands all the ways anxiety can affect a young person can be very eye-opening.   

Be patient  

Staying patient can be difficult, especially if you don’t understand what your teen is feeling. Remember that anxiety can show itself in many different forms, and don’t take it personally if an emotional outburst occurs. It’s most likely just your teen’s way of letting off some of that steam.   

Explore coping methods  

A therapist can help you find many ways to cope with anxiety, but one of the most popular is meditation. It can help by focusing the mind on the present, rather than allowing our thoughts to get away from us in worrying about the future or the past. Talk to your teen about taking up yoga, or simply sitting in a quiet space and narrowing down the thoughts to focus on breathing.   

Remember that many forms of anxiety are only temporary, and they can all be coped with once your teen finds the best way to do so for her. Use this as a time to talk about negative coping methods that should be avoided. Ultimately, try to be patient and let her know you’re there for her.   

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information.

Parenting and Co-Parenting: Country Comparisons

Different approaches to child raising

Internationally there are always going to be differences in most aspects of life from culture to food, sport to conduct. Parenting is no exception, with a new culture comes a new perspective. With new perspectives come opportunities for learning and adaptation.

Many countries adopt a group parenting method, where extended family and more often than not close family friends collectively help look after and raise children. This usually occurs in countries where large close families are common but also where family time is of paramount importance. This includes countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Brazil and Colombia. The fact that internationally children are staying at home until a later age could actually aid this system and improve extended family relations, whilst hopefully instilling some responsibility in the otherwise dependent child!

Japan is interesting in that the idea of spoiling children is relatively foreign to the Japanese, co-sleeping is the norm and a baby’s cries are always responded to without fear of over-spoiling. They hold dear to the mantra of unconditional love whilst simultaneously managing to raise children who are more independent than in the majority of other countries. Children in Japan learn to make journeys and use public transport alone from a very early age!

Parental leave can be incredibly important for developmental bonding between parents and children. Scandinavian countries have long offered a system whereby mothers and fathers can share parental leave, something only recently adopted in the United Kingdom and relatively non-existent in the US (except in California). By contrast in Sweden fathers are said to have up to 480 days of paternity leave!

Single parent trends  

You can find some interesting data and statistics on general households and single parents in OECD countries here. The data sheds light on the position of the US in terms of single parent mother/father households in comparison to other developed nations. Amongst these nations Denmark and the United Kingdom have the highest percentage of single parent households with 29% and 28% respectively; the United States is just behind with 27%.

Single mother households always outnumber single father households; however the US has a relatively high number of single father households, according to the 2016 census 40% of these being due to divorce. Statistics show that sadly many of these single parent families are not receiving support from their ex-spouse. The good news is that these family situations are becoming more acceptable socially and prejudice/societal pressure is not as strong as it once was.

In summary   

There’s no perfect formula but don’t be afraid to seek inspiration globally for any parenting questions or issues you may have. Furthermore don’t overlook the importance of reaching an agreement with your ex-partner in regards to co-parenting. It may seem acceptable to keep this agreement verbal but later down the road you may come to regret this. Opinions change and disputes arise, it can pay to have certain points written down. Attorneys can help you draft these documents or you can use custody software to generate co-parenting agreements/schedules. If you’re divorced and looking to share custody of your child from different countries or areas of the world then mediation can help the situation. You need to reach key agreements, design a specific but flexible parenting plan and keep communication a central theme of your and your child’s relationship. This last point cannot be emphasized enough!

Krishan Smith, author of this article, is the new senior editor at Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company. He’s originally from the UK but now living in Colombia.

 

Teaching Your Kid to Be a Gracious Loser from Time To Time

smooth loserFrom their youngest days, you can see that kids are interested in winning. Whenever they play together, they find games to play involving a clear winner and a clear loser. Since we’ve learned in our adult years that winning is not always possible, it may be wise to help our children cope with losing from time to time. Many of the most successful people in the world overcame extreme difficulties, suffering loss after loss, never giving into the temptation to quit. Competition is a normal part of life. We compete in sports, academically, for jobs and promotions, even for love. We can teach our children to lose graciously so they can move forward in life pursuing their dreams instead of remaining stuck with feelings of failure.

The Role of Parents

Parents play an integral role in the lives of their children. From the moment our children are born, we’re teaching them all that we know about life: how to develop our talents and interests, how to deal with our feelings and emotions, and even everyday things as simple as the act of play. Our children will reflect the examples they are shown at home by their parents. If the parent becomes frustrated when experiencing loss, the child will pick up on the parent’s attitude and learn to reflect this behavior.

One way to set a positive example during situations where you child must deal with loss (either in sport or in life matters such as a parents divorce), open and frequent communication about the current circumstances can really help your child to internalize what is happening. This is admittedly easier when the end of the marriage is amicable. Both parents can model how to be a good sport and show kids that progress can be found even when certain things must come to an end.

The Art of Losing

There will be circumstances when kids will lose while their parent isn’t present. At recess, during play dates, in school, and away from home, children and teens will be presented with opportunities to win or lose. What should they do if perhaps a parent isn’t there to comfort them or guide them down a healthy emotional path? They will need to learn to be fair with each other as well as hold each other and themselves accountable to the rules that have been put in place. If they explode in anger at an unfair call, this could result in no longer being invited to participate. But if they’re generous, fair, and reasonable, other will recognize these traits and enjoy spending time with them in competition.

Demonstrating Good Sportsmanship

Kids can show good sportsmanship in the following ways

  • Play fair and do not cheat others or yourself.
  • Work hard during practice.
  • Be polite. Don’t trash talk.
  • Do your best without showing off.
  • Give others the opportunity to play even if you need to sit out.
  • Compliment your opponent after a loss or a win.
  • Follow the advice of your coaches.
  • Listen to officials. Wait until after the game to ask for clarification about a bothersome call.
  • Accept a loss and don’t blame others — including yourself.
  • Encourage your teammates by cheering even if you are losing.

If your child no longer enjoys the sport or starts to take it too seriously, it might be time for a break. Remind him or her you win in life by treating others kindly instead of being a poor sport.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

Keep Your Kids Involved In Your Move: You’ll Be Happier and So Will They 

Everyone knows that moving is stressful, but did you know that it can be especially difficult for your children if you leave them out of the planning? Being involved in decision making, packing and unpacking can help them to feel more in control and ready for the change. Here’s how:   

  1. Pack their room last and unpack it first in the new home. 
  2. Stick to the old meal and bedtime routines throughout the move to give them a sense of familiarity. 
  3. Hire movers – you will thank yourself and you’ll have more time to help your children.  
  4. Include your kids in some decisions: decorations, new plates, which new park to visit first. 
  5. Find child and pet care for moving day to alleviate stress.  
  6. Involve the kids in unpacking so they feel more invested. Prepare them mentally but be prepared for anxiety – adjusting can take up to 6 months. 
  7. Get them pumped about their new school by taking a tour or even walking or driving by.  
  8. Help them create a memory book of the old house, school, neighborhood, friends, babysitter. 
  9. Remember to practice self-care so that you’re on top of your game for your children.   

Now that you have some ideas of how to involve your kids in the planning process, make it fun. If it’s a game instead of a chore, everyone will enjoy it more and feel ready for the move. 

You will still be stressed, but much less so when everyone is pitching in to help.   

Author  Alexis Hall is a single mom to three kids. She created SingleParent.info to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She works as an in-home health nurse. When she isn’t working or spending time with her kids, she enjoys running and hiking and is currently training for a triathlon.  

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Teens Choose A Career Path For Financial Independence

mediaAs parents, we can feel an overwhelming amount of pressure to make sure our teenagers make good choices when it comes to their future careers. This can be difficult if your teen has a behavioral disorder. However, even without behavior problems, it is still hard to help teenagers find their way.

To help teens align their goals with potential career paths without being “pushy”, try a few of these different approaches below.

Keep An Open Mind

There are many industries today which did not exist even 10-15 years ago. When I was a teenager going on dates and dreaming of my future, I never dreamed I would write online for a living. When I talked to my father about my dreams of becoming a writer, he about laughed himself sick and encouraged me to pursue psychology instead. Now I write online for parenting organizations regarding troubled teens. Interesting how these things work out.

Other industries parents may be surprised by:

  • Pro esports – Does your teen want to just play video games? Well, there is actually a booming industry centered around professional video gamers, garnering viewers who watch the games much like traditional football games. Which draws in money from advertisers who want to reach those viewers.
  • Social media – The world of social media has been a huge driver in creating new jobs. From social media personalities who create a living from cultivating a following via YouTube, Instagram, and other mediums to more “traditional” positions where companies now seem to all be hunting for social media managers to act as brand managers for companies.
  • App developer – There is a growing demand for apps. This shouldn’t surprise parents as they see their teens glued to their phones but they may not realize the potential money behind careers that can come with app development. Successful apps can make millions, and many commercially successful ones are created by just a few creators.

Create Opportunities For Your Teen To Network

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has become more applicable as the economy struggles to recover. Highly skilled individuals have found themselves jobless for months and even years from the lack of networking.

To help your teen avoid this fate, you can facilitate opportunities for networking early on. This will give them references and connections their peers may lack. Some ways you can help them build up a network as a teen are:

  • Encourage them to volunteer in their community.
  • Have them engage in sports or creative group endeavors like choir or band.
  • Allow them to work a part-time job.

While your teen may not be snapped up for a great career right after high school, they can start learning the basics of building a network.

Help Teens Think Realistically

I don’t criticize my father for not encouraging me to pursue writing as a career. He understood realistically that very few people could make a living from writing alone and while he did support writing as a side hobby, he showed me how my other interests could be made into a career. I follow a similar path with my own teenage son, though I do keep a bit more of an open mind than my father!

You can use tools like employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and job salary averages to help your teen take a serious look at their dream job.

This can give them hard numbers that cannot be argued with, unlike their parents. While teens may accuse their parents of exaggerating, these third-party numbers have no reason to stretch the truth and can help your teen refocus their goals.

So, along with giving teens good financial advice for college, try these tips the next time you talk with your teen about their future career.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson  enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

How To Help Children Struggling With Divorce

At the end of the day, divorce may be the right option, but it is unlikely to be an easy option, particularly when there are children involved. Divorce can have a brutal impact on children’s lives and can scar them into adulthood – unless it is handled the right way.

Put the bitterness aside 

This statement may seem like the world’s biggest case of “easier said than done”, particularly if you have good reason to hold a grievance against your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, but it is essential for your children’s sake. Whatever wrong they have done to you, they are still your children’s parents.

Keep it together as parents

Children need consistency. While it’s fine for each parent to have their own parenting style, perhaps one being a bit more strict and the other a bit more relaxed, any basic ground rules should be respected by both parents and any differences of opinion resolved away from the children. Parents who try to score points against each other via their children, e.g. by saying yes when the other says no, can simply end up making children insecure and can cause behavioural issues as children learn to play one parent off against the other.

Stick to routines

It’s practically inevitable that divorce is going to cause some degree of disruption to your children’s lives but do whatever you can to minimize it. Arrange any necessary meetings outside of the times you need to take your children to their activities and hold to normal mealtimes and bedtimes as much as possible.

Be honest and open

Children are often superb at detecting lies and evasiveness. Even if they’re “little white lies” or it’s a subject you’re uncomfortable discussing, you need to find a way to manage and satisfy their natural curiosity, which may well be driven by fear. Divorce takes children into the unknown and that can be a scary place. If you need thinking time, then park the question and tell your children that you’ll talk about it later, set reasonable expectations about when “later” will be and make good on your promise. If the honest answer to a question is “I don’t know”, then make a point of finding out as soon as possible. Children need to feel that they can count on their parents even at the best of times and a divorce situation is anything but the best of times.

Provide lots of reassurance

Divorce is about parents, it’s never about children. Children need to feel confident that whatever happens between their parents, nothing is going to change the relationship they have with either or both parents. Point out how changes will be managed, for example if one parent moves out, they can still take their turn at reading bedtime stories over the internet. You might also want to provide examples of people successfully managing divorces, either people they know or celebrity couples.

Be alert to your children showing signs of stress

With everything you may have to manage, it may be easy to miss the signs that your children are experiencing real stress (or even depression) rather than just feeling generally miserable about the situation, or you may dismiss your observations as your imagination. Be vigilant about their emotional welfare and get a second opinion if necessary, even if the divorce is going as well as can be expected, they may still benefit from counselling.

Author Bio K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, with an expert team of family law professionals who are experienced in all aspects of family and divorce law.

You Could Be Hindering Your Teen’s Dating

you could be hindering your teen's dating potential     You Could Be Hindering Your Teen’s Dating Potential  

While some parents may be hindering their teen’s dating potential, I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing. I am not advocating for overly strict parenting where you don’t allow your teen to date at all, but there are some important precautions I think all parents should consider when their teen starts dating…
Set Clear Curfews

Not too long ago, my teenage son took a more serious interest in girls. He became interested in spending time with girls outside of school for dating purposes or “hanging out” as he calls it. So he wanted to renegotiate his curfew. His curfew changed when he moved from middle school to high school but hasn’t been updated since. I saw no need to change it, as he could stay out until 9:30 pm Sunday – Thursday and 11:30 pm Friday – Saturday. 

He decided to challenge this when out on a group date and came home at midnight on a Saturday. While he tried to argue he was only a half-hour late, he knew the consequence for breaking curfew was a week of grounding with a week added for each curfew-breaking offense.

Tips for parents who want to curtail bad teen dating habits by setting a curfew:

  • Set clear curfew rules.
  • Set reasonable and relatable consequences for breaking these rules.
  • Follow through with punishment or curfew breaking will be a regular thing.Teen Date Nights and Money

Part of teaching your teen how to date responsibly is teaching your teen how to deal with their personal finances. The sooner your child understands basic savings and financial planning, the better equipped they will be later in life.

My teen son knows I won’t play the money tree, being a backup when his personal funds are running low. When he takes a girl out on a date, he has to think creatively and within a budget. Sometimes that just means a movie night at home with some popcorn, which helps me keep an eye on the dating couple.

I have found this has made my son more responsible overall. If there are activities and dates he would like to go on, he has to plan them in advance and secure the finances to do so. He has felt the sting of not having enough money to take a girl out that he likes and it’s a good reminder for him to manage his finances responsibly to obtain the things he wants. I also like to think that by not offering to pay for his extravagant dates, he thinks of creative, less expensive dates and therefor doesn’t rely on flash or funds as a crutch for getting to know girls.  

Everyone On Same Dating Page   

Not only does your teen need to be on the same page with any rules you set up but so does your parenting partner. This can be tricky for co-parents who are divorced but is possible when working with clear communication.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson  enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn

 

 

Post-Divorce, Spend Time vs Money On Your Children

Divorce takes up a lot of time – preparation, getting records together and the proceedings itself. It can be easier to buy X-Box games or toys to keep your children occupied while you focus on your divorce. Buying expensive stuff is a way to assuage your guilt, but is not what kids need in this chaotic period. Their world is changing and what they require is your extra attention. Take time to stop what you are doing and make eye contact to be fully present with them. Give them undivided attention daily, even if in short bursts. Ask them open ended questions to facilitate communication and encourage the little ones to express their feelings.

There is an ongoing debate about quality vs quantity of time spend with your youngsters. Various studies suggest it is quality which is more important. Many parenting experts disagree and claim it is quantity that matters in the long run. Hang out with your kids even if doing separate activities as the close proximity is beneficial. I tend to be in the middle where we have special family activities, but also do our own thing nearby each other. Doing errands and chores together counts as spending time with your sons and daughters.

Consider having a routine where you have scheduled events. It may be a picnic in the park every Thursday in the summer, or excursions to the ice cream shop. My sons and I enjoyed pizza while watching DVDs one night a week year-round. When my sons reminisce about our new lives post-divorce, it is not about any gadgets, but rather our family togetherness. Children understand more than we give them credit for – and can come up with low cost fun. Like other families we knew, my boys and I also enjoyed playing board games. Finances are stretched with divorce, so instead of spending money which you do not have, spend time that you do have available.

There was a daycare in the building where I used to work, which had a thought provoking poster. It was a parent holding the hand of a toddler along with a great caption. It said in a hundred years, it will make no difference how much money you made or the car you drove, but rather how much time you spent with your child. Please read more  www.divorcemag.com/blog/spend-time-not-money-on-your-children-post-divorce

Travelling with Children Post-Divorce as a Single Parent

Travelling with children as a single parent can be challenging, however there are tricks to making it go smoother. If being used to having another adult helping out (your former spouse), consider enlisting a replacement. My mother was the “granny nanny” and accompanied my two sons and I on many of our global adventures. She escorted a tired child back to the ship or watched the boys play in a park while I hit a few shops.

Select destinations according to the ages of the children. Wee ones enjoy playing in the sand and staying put in one place. A condo at a beach or cabin at a lake fills this need nicely. Older ones crave adventure or exploring ruins like Indiana Jones. Think about a place that would be enjoyable for every family member. For example, many families where I reside, go to Costa Rica. One can take a leisurely stroll in the rainforest with a toddler, or have teens zip-lining through it. There are beaches for relaxing and museums for culture. Amusement parks, such as Disneyland, satisfies kids of all ages. See what travel deals you can get to make trips more affordable.

Several divorced parents advise going to all-inclusive resorts. The youngsters partake in fun sports or classes which enables mom or dad to have some free time. It is one price for food, lodging and many of the offered activities. My friend liked to take her two sons to a Club Med, some which have circus classes for children. While her boys were dangling from ropes or on the trapeze, she was sipping a rum cocktail on the beach.

There are various travel companies which offer special tours for families. One has safaris to Africa where the youngsters meet with a chief to learn about tribal life. The single parents can be at the spa or working out during these few kids only events. There are plenty of experiences that are shared with the children. Not being hands on 24/7 gives the solo parent a much needed break.

After my divorce, we tended to go on ocean or river cruises. We took advantage of sales and 2 for the price of 1 offers. I did not have surprises with costs and selected trips that fit my budget. I liked unpacking only once and not waking up cranky boys to catch trains or busses. We sailed at night and merely walked off the ship to a new destination each morning.     Please read more   www.divorcemag.com/blog/travelling-with-children-post-divorce

Tips on Teaching Your College Kids About Personal Finance

Money management is a life skill that is just as important as learning proper English grammar, yet it is often neglected. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is not lacking in this life skill. Your child’s attitude toward money can make the difference between whether he will have a pleasant way of life in the future or one that will drag him to the pits of misery. There is no better time to teach your child proper personal finance management than when he is setting out on his own for the first time — his college days.  

Talk about money

Money is something we deal with throughout our life, yet it is a subject we rarely discuss. Before you release your child to the jungle that is college, make sure you take the time to dive deeply into the subject. Be open about issues like how you are going to cover his or her college expenses and what you might have to do if something untoward happens, like if you suddenly lose your job. Handling money matters should be a team effort for your family. The more involved your child is, the more he will be responsible for his or her own share of expenses.

Work through a budget with your child

Take the time to sit down and create a budget with your child. This will not only teach him a skill that would prove useful in life, but you can also help make sure that he does not struggle with making ends meet, or worse, end up with nothing to eat while he is miles away from home. Also, if he ends up asking you for more money, you can refer back to the budget you have prepared and work out how he ended up running short. You can then suggest ways to improve.

Make your budget as detailed and concrete as possible. Create categories, break the budget plan down by month so tracking expenses can be easier, and take the time to evaluate the plan and how your child is faring every end of the year or as you see fit.

Require them to track their spending

One of the ways you can ensure that they will stick to a budget is by having them track their spending. The young ones often do not realize how the little purchases can add up. Ask your child to track every single purchase he makes. You can recommend an app that will allow him to do this. The techie tool will make the process easier and more inviting for him. Tracking every single expense will help your child get a feel of the outflow of money, and appreciate the complexities of money management early on.

Set money boundaries

Do not hesitate to discuss with your child just what you are willing to spend on for him. While sending him to school may be your responsibility, covering, say, fraternity expenses is not. Be clear about your boundaries. Explain to your child that if he wants to be able to indulge in luxuries, he should be willing to work for it or find resources of his own. Not only will this help you avoid getting into financial trouble, you will also be able to train your child to be more resourceful. You just might be able to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit in the process.

Do not always bail your child out

Make your child feel secure by explaining that you will always try to do your part and be religious with sending out his allowance. You can even explain that you will always be there to bail him out of trouble, that he should not hesitate to seek your help. After all, the likes of money transfer are only around the corner. Instilling a sense of security in kids is important if they are to set out to the world with confidence. Still, be just as clear that your offer of assistance has its limits. And that while fortuitous events are understandable, losing money over Starbucks is not. Be clear with your boundaries, and be willing to refuse to provide assistance when your child has been irresponsibly careless with his spending habit. Make him own up to his mistakes and learn from them. More importantly, teach him to sort out his own problems and solve them on his own. This will be yet another important life skill he could learn.

Talk about the pitfalls of borrowing

Whether you are thinking of giving your child an extension account to your credit card or you are just worried about him taking debts from his friends, make sure you talk candidly about the pitfalls of borrowing. Many people find themselves in a financial mess in late adulthood because they started off on the wrong foot. There is no better time to warn your child about the dangers of getting buried in debts than when they are just setting out for college. Emphasize the importance of avoiding debts. Mention real life anecdotes if you must, and explain just how much trouble it is to have wrong credit habits.

Talk about the possibility of taking a job

Sit down with your child and seriously ruminate the possibility of taking a job. Discuss possible opportunities available, and discuss the benefits of having a part-time job. Explain that learning about the hard work it entails to earn money will help him value what he has even more and be more responsible with how he spends it. Having a job will also help him earn many life skills that he can use when he enters the real world. This will help ensure eventual success in his career endeavors. You may also help him with time management, so you can make sure he can handle juggling school and work.

Set attractive goals

You may also establish goals that your child will want to work hard for. You can teach them the value of investments and compounded interest so they can have something to strive for. You can both identify exciting things to do with savings and investments, like travel abroad or just a fatter bank account. Having something attractive to look forward to will help motivate your child to stick to the planned budget or to take on that part-time job. Ensure a good future for your child by taking the time to properly train him or her on money management. Personal finance is no small matter, and should be treated accordingly.

Author is Jason Garcia  Blogger and Business Manager www.InvestmentDad.com

 

Parenting Plan for Relocating with Children Post-Divorce

The most obvious aspect of your parenting plan that will need adjustment is the custody and visitation schedule. Chances are that the primary residence will remain the same, but the visitation schedule will not. A parent that may have had time with their child every weekend might now only see their child one weekend a month, but more during summer vacation. You will also need to take the travel time into consideration. Regardless of how your visitation schedule will need to be adjusted, it’s important to get all the details worked out before a move.

It’s no question that separation and divorce can be difficult for children. While it might actually create a better environment for them in certain circumstances, they don’t always understand that at the time.  Add in a geographic move of one of the parents into the mix, regardless of whether the child has to relocate as well, just creates another whole level of complexity.   

Create or Amend Your Parenting Plan to Reflect Your Living Situations  

If you are divorced or divorcing with a child or children, you will need or already have a parenting plan. This plan should contain everything about how both parents will cooperate in regards to raising their children, from how time will be shared to how expenses will be handled. If one parent plans to move a significant distance away after a parenting plan has been created and approved by the family court, it will need amended to reflect any changes.  

Here are some of the major points that need to be considered.   

Transportation is Important  

Most parenting plans have details about pick-up and drop-off times and locations. But, that gets much more complicated when long distances are involved. Long distance travel takes time. Anything involving a considerable amount of time needs to be looked at and potentially amended because it affects the time-share between parents.  Additionally, travel expenses can add up fast. Don’t forget to include in your new amended plan which parent will cover what expenses.  

You also need to put in clear text how the child will travel. Will they travel with a parent, and if so, which parent is responsible for that? Of, if their using public transportation, who will be responsible for making the travel arrangements?  

You can never be too detailed with all of this information.  

More Miles Doesn’t Mean Less Communication  

Your original parenting plan should include provisions about parental communication. That doesn’t change if one parent moves.  

You still need provisions and both parents still need to communicate. And, with all of the communication technology available today, that should not be a problem.  In fact, the distance makes communicating according the parenting plan even more important.  What might need amended though is how the child will communicate with the parent they do not live with. One example is that an amendment about video calls might be considered.  

Adjust Your Schedule   

The most obvious aspect of your parenting plan that will need adjustment is the custody and visitation schedule. Chances are that the primary residence will remain the same, but the visitation schedule will not. A parent that may have had time with their child every weekend might now only see their child one weekend a month, but more during summer vacation. You will also need to take the travel time into consideration.  

Regardless of how your visitation schedule will need to be adjusted, it’s important to get all the details worked out before a move.

In Summary

Any time one parent in a co-parenting environment makes a significant change in their living situation, both parents need to revisit their parenting plan and see if adjustments need to be made. These adjustments will need to continue to reflect what is best for all children involved. They will also need to be approved by the family court, so remember to use legal terminology and only edit what absolutely must be changed.

Tim Backes is the author of this article and senior editor for Custody X Change, a co-parenting custody scheduling software solution.

 

Dealing with Empty Nest as a Single Parent

It may be that you and your spouse waited until the last child was out of the house before filing for divorce. Or it could be that you both drifted so far apart that Empty Nest was the catalyst for going your separate ways. In my case, it was a few years post-divorce when I had to face being by myself. My married friends have their spouses for company and go dining out or make impromptu trips to the cinema. When alone in a quiet house without another adult companion, time may seem to stand still between their visits home.

How to Get Through Empty Nest

Part of getting through Empty Nest is reframing negative thoughts and looking for what is positive. I do not have a surly teen at home, but have a cuddly feline fellow in a tuxedo who enjoys hanging out together. I have more me time to read mysteries while munching on chocolate, instead of being a chauffeur. Make sure to nurture yourself when feeling morose. One dad said what got him through the early stages of Empty Nest was knowing his son was ecstatically happy at his university. He has many friends, activities, clubs, and is engaged in his courses. Some people stay in touch daily with their kids, by a short text and catch up with a call on the weekend. They feel connected to them and still part of their lives.

Distraction helps ward off the Empty Nest Blues. Do something that you have enjoyed in the past, but maybe did not have the time to continue when raising youngsters. Some folks got back in to a sport and joined an amateur city league. I started Zumba classes the week my youngest left home. Every year, I plan get-togethers with pals for the first few days after my son goes back to college. I saved a landscaping project for immediately after his departure so I could stay busy. Please read more….www.divorcemag.com/blog/empty-nest-after-divorce-dealing-with-transition

 

Psychological Abuse in Marriage and After Divorce

Psychological Abuse during marriage can leave a former spouse questioning their own capabilities and mental status. It is debilitating and can have long lasting effects. Psychological abuse is sometimes referred to as “gas lighting” after the 1941 thriller starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. In the film, Paula is a newlywed returning to the house of her murdered aunt. Her new husband manipulates her into doubting her memory, experiences and eventuality her sanity. Paula sees the gas lights flicker and hears footsteps overhead when her spouse is supposedly not home. He convinces Paula that she is going insane for his own sinister purpose.

A spouse committing gas lighting may be setting up a situation (as in the film) and telling their spouse that it is all in their head. The goal is to have someone question what is real and exert control over them. Psychological abuse is using words and actions to destroy another person without physical violence. Partners may be told that they are too sensitive, suspicious or jealous. Making a “joke” that demeans a spouse when the intention is to tear them down is abuse. It is a stream of criticisms and cruelty over a period of time.

A psychological abuser often attempts to isolate the person from their friends and family. This increases their power over the spouse and lessens the chance others will persuade them to initiate divorce. When someone feels helpless, they are less likely to leave. The target of this abuse questions their intelligence and being able to be on their own. Think about your marital situation. Have your friends fallen by the wayside? Are you out of touch with relatives? Are you doubting your talents? Are you belittled when in the presence or others?

If feeling uncomfortable and doubtful about your well-being and abilities, get some help. A family doctor can recommend a therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for example, can help change faulty perceptions, and give a reality check. A professional can help you sort out your situation to decide which path to take.

This is an unhealthy situation for children to witness. They do not know how to help and can be caught in the middle. Parental alienation can occur when one parent is constantly putting down the other and children might question the targeted parent’s authority. If the kids think this marital situation is normal, then they run the risk of emulating it down the road in their own relationships. Please read more… divorcedmoms.com/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-psychological-abuse-before–after-divorce

 

International Child Abduction

Abduction is taking a child out of the country without the other parent’s permission. This can be due to being uninformed about the law or as an intentional act with possibly going into hiding. It can be part of a war between two parents without the child’s best interest at heart. Depending upon one’s divorce decree, it may be that one parent only has to inform the other regarding a planned journey abroad. This is more in the case where one parent has physical custody and the other has limited contact, such as with abuse. In the UK it may be possible to take a child out of the country for under one month without permission, when the youngster primarily lives with one parent. Check with your lawyer first.

It is much easier and less traumatic to take measures in order to prevent kidnapping rather than deal with it after the fact. Look at odd behaviors of the other parent which may indicate that there is a flight risk. Have they quit their job, sold their house and seem to be cutting ties with the community? Certainly if the kids mention that the co-parent wants to move – take notice without pumping them for information.

There are precautions to take. Obtain legal counsel to ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent an abduction. Who holds the kids’ passports, you or the co-parent? If you have them in your possession, do not hand them over to the other parent without legal advice. My ex requested my sons’ passports for a trip to Mexico. The teens refused to leave the country with him, so I kept the passports. When kids are older, they may have more say in declining a jaunt abroad. If the youngsters are dual citizens, check with the other country’s embassy to see what the requirements are for obtaining a passport for a minor. The other parent may abduct the kids by getting another passport for them in the country of his or hers birth. If you both moved abroad for work and are still married, consider hanging on to the kids’ passports. This lessens the chance that your spouse may depart with the little ones if your marriage is ending.

If your ex-spouse seems like they may do a runner with the kids, attempt to get supervised visitation. One parent gave his boy a track phone with a few numbers programmed into it. This way, if in a dicey situation, the lad could make an emergency call from inside the bathroom. A surveillance company may be able to insert a GPS tracking device into the child’s clothing or possession. One may want to have risk factors assessed by an international attorney to ascertain the possibility of a parental kidnapping.

The US has a Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) to notify a parent when the other one is applying to get a passport for their child. A child cannot be prevented from leaving the US unless there is a court order which prohibits this. Speak to an attorney about getting this court order in place which is essential in an emergency. Remember to tell the CPIAP if your contact information changes.

The US Department of State has an easy to use web site with a wealth of information relating to preventing child abduction, including which countries participate in The Hague Abduction Convention. The Hague Abduction Convention’s purpose is to encourage that a child is returned to their country quickly.  Please read more  dadsdivorce.com/articles/divorcing-abroad-international-parental-child-abduction/

Helping Adult Offspring When You Divorce

Adult offspring are sometimes an overlooked group when it comes to divorce. Support is given to youngsters with more people looking out for them, such as teachers and coaches. Although adult offspring may have encouraged unhappy parents to split – it is not okay to utilize them as sounding boards or guidance counsellors. Parents can fall into the trap of using their grown up kids as a confidant. Thirty years post-divorce, my friend’s father felt the need to spill the ugly details of the reason behind their divorce. Lena vaguely remembered something about her mum had an affair. Hearing the lurid tales about it was quite upsetting, with her dad stating that he was only telling her this “To set the record straight.” These big kids are not to be privy to divorce details even years later, when in their fifties.

Although they are adults, these individuals are still dealing with divorce issues. These sons and daughters may be losing their family home which is jarring even when living many kilometres away. This means sorting through their childhood memorabilia in the midst of angry parents divvying up personal assets. They need some space away from both parents. Having distance is helpful in processing their mixed emotions, especially if the divorce news was a jolt out of the blue.

An adult son or daughter may appear to have it altogether, but can be hurt little kids inside. Do not assume they are alright – ask if they are okay. They may be afraid to burden you with their unresolved issues, so encourage them to express their feelings to friends. Having a talk with their godparent or older family friend can be therapeutic. If they are floundering, a divorce coach can help them deal with the divorce situation.

Just as with young ones, do not criticize their other parent, or make it seem as if they have to choose sides. Do not ask them to deliver messages or put them on the spot with questions about the other parent. If you are divorcing their step-parent do not put them down. Your child has their own separate relationship with a step-parent and may desire continuing it after the divorce. They do not want to shut the door to it, by becoming your cheering squad during your divorce. I know of a few biological parents who tried to coerce their adult offspring to end step-parent relationships by insinuating it was a matter of loyalty. That does not work.

Your adult offspring may have their own youngsters who are trying to come to terms with the divorce. Reassure your grandchildren that they are not losing grandparents, but will see you separately. Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/adult-children-of-divorce/

Pets Help Make Divorce Easier for Children

Pets can play a big role in helping children get through their parents’ divorces. While parents do give unconditional love, a pet is a more neutral family member who listens to complaints and confidences. Children can pour out their problems to the cat or dog and not have to worry about adding an additional burden to their already stressed out parents.

HOW PETS HELP

Various studies have indicated that being around a pet has health benefits, such as reducing stress and lowering cortisol. There is ongoing research studying how pets boost the owner’s immune system. Divorce is a turbulent time for the whole family and helping kids to be less stressed is a plus. Pets give their undivided attention and are fully present in the moment with the little humans. They can sit in silence and not need to fill a void with conversation. I was with my sons, but rooting around records trying to find a specific financial statement or figuring out my average monthly expenditures to give our financial advisor during collaborative divorce. The cats fully focused on the boys, while my attention wavered.

A big, friendly orange cat got my youngest through our acrimonious divorce. He listened, and did not lecture. He purred instead of giving advice. A tuxedo feline listened to my older son. Cats and dogs do not criticise the other parent or burst into tears. Kids may require extra physical contact during divorce and pets are ready to give this type of support. Our cats cuddled the boys and stayed with them as they drifted off to dreamland every night.

CHILDREN FEEL NEEDED

Pets help foster a sense of responsibility. Kids are pushed around by adults and having to do pet care gets them grounded. Being responsible for someone else’s welfare and well-being gives meaning to their lives. Taking care of animals takes the focus off their own problems and puts it on to nurturing someone else. Being responsible for the cats was a welcome distraction from the chaotic atmosphere of our divorce. Divorce dramatically alters the kids’ schedules and the routine of pet care gives constancy to their lives. It makes life more predictable when their world is topsy-turvy. The kids may get up in the morning, feed the animals, walk the dog or throw around a cat’s toy mouse. Then there is a routine for after school with the pets. Kids feel more settled when they know what to expect and have some routines.

Animals play a part in helping humans feel more connected to others.  Please read more  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/children-get-through-divorce/

 

Supporting Children Through Divorce

We get caught up in the maelstrom of divorce and can fail to notice that our children are floundering. They appear okay on the surface going through the motions of life, but underneath may be in distress. Although divorce is an adult action, the fallout affects the youngsters.

Allow the children to vent and while you may not agree with everything said, releasing strong emotions is better than having them bottled up inside. Validate their feeling of frustration that through no fault of their own, major changes are occurring in their world. This may involve packing up their stuff for a move and beginning to split time between parents. Emphasize what is constant in their lives – same school, activities and friends. This helps kids to focus on having continuity rather than on what they cannot change.

Put animosity aside and put your kids first. Although this is easier said than done, your youngsters will do so much better in the long run. Try to be on the same page in regards to standard routines. Having consistent meal and bedtimes allows the kids to know what to expect and when. While kids can be surprisingly resilient, they still require some sort of foundation. You may have had general behavioral guidelines with consequences for infractions when you were married. Continuing to Implement these post-divorce is another method to help kids know what to expect. This lessons the chance that kids will test boundaries after divorce when co-parents handle conduct in similar ways.

Reach out to the extended family for help. One is overwhelmed and could use a short pause every now and then from day-to-day responsibilities. Your children will have fun with cousins and a break from the divorce environment. Some parents send their kids to camp or to a relative’s place while sorting out the divorce details. When your sanity is threatening to depart, ask friends to host a sleep over. Having a quiet night at home can do wonders for one’s psyche. When feeling calmer, reciprocate by having their kids sleep over at your house.

There is balance in life which includes making time for recreation.   Please read more   www.divorcemag.com/blog/how-to-support-your-children-during-divorce

Child Relocation Post-Divorce

International divorce includes an ex-spouse down the road wanting to relocate with the children. A way to prevent relocation is to be proactive during the divorce. If anticipating one’s foreign spouse may move, put in the divorce decree that the children will be brought up in (whatever the state or country where one is living) until age eighteen. Some parents have stated that their offspring will attend college in the country where they now currently reside. One father stipulated in his divorce decree which high school his sons would attend and took responsibility for paying the tuition. What this did was to prevent his wife from moving back to her home state with the boys at a later date.

In another situation, a spouse may have followed the other one to a foreign locale for their partner’s job. I know of several ex-pat men who were stay-at- home fathers in Hong Kong while their wives worked. If in a rocky marriage, consider maintaining ties to your birth country (domicile). Perhaps freelance long distance for your old job. Have the kids continue connections with their friends and go home for long vacations. Consider renting out your house and paying taxes and upkeep. In the event of divorce abroad, these attachments to home could make it easier to be allowed to move back with the kids. It is imperative to get expert legal advice when divorcing as an ex-pat.

When a parent wants to move across country or abroad, it is recommended to discuss this with one’s ex-spouse before mentioning it to the children. Have a discussion with listening intently to any objections and mention how the children can stay connected. Meet with an attorney to find the best way to proceed. An application to relocate will be filed in court and the other parent has the right to oppose it. One item that the court will investigate is whether care is shared between both parents or is one the main care giver. If both parents are participating in the care – school, medical visits, homework, sports and so forth, then the parent trying to prevent relocation could have a better chance of success. Be very visible to others when doing shared care to help your case.

There are various factors in deciding a case for relocation with the children and the onus is on the parent who wants to move. Has that parent who desires to start a new life abroad or across the country researched what this will involve? The court wants to know if the plan is well thought out and is a realistic proposal. The judge wants to make sure it is not a whim, but covers all aspects of the children’s lives. If a parent who wants to relocate, is denied to do so, will that drastically impact their life?   Please read more  dadsdivorce.com/articles/divorcing-abroad-child-relocation-post-divorce/

Self-Esteem in Children Including after Divorce

Children may have gone through trauma with their parents’ divorce resulting in a dip with their self-esteem. Correct any misconceptions tied to divorce “I’m bad and that is why my parents broke up” or “If I was better, they would still be together.” Reassure children that they are not to blame for any aspect of the divorce and compliment them on their resilience for getting through the process. Rather than trying boost self-esteem in a general way “You are so great and everything you do is great” determine what their core issue is. If their core issue is “I’m unlovable” then work with them on showing that they are lovable. My sons have volunteered with an animal rescue group and the critters have demonstrated great affection towards these boys. There are many other family and community examples of showing that the kids are loved. If a child feels unworthy, then perhaps a divorce professional could help them see that this is a false belief. Hypnotherapy also excels in debunking limiting beliefs that are keeping kids feeling stuck. Work with the negative image that the child may have about themselves in order to achieve a healthy self-esteem.

Having a healthy self-esteem is an intrinsic value and not dependent upon a cheering squad telling kids how special they are. The trick is to help the child feel good about themselves and not be reliant upon others to give them validation. Relying on external factors (continual praise for example) is not the path for a strong self-image. Rather than piling on the compliments, help youngsters discover areas of expertise, skills and hobbies where becoming proficient is what helps them feel good about themselves. A bonus when their validation is internal instead of external, is having less of a chance succumbing to peer pressure.

There is a trend to boost self-esteem by telling each child that they are special. There are seven billion people in the world, so I make a point of telling my sons that they are NOT special. That would mean that seven billion people are special, which negates the Merriam Webster dictionary’s definition of “distinguished by some unusual quality.” Each person has unique talents and characteristics, same as with a fingerprint. On the human level, each person has the same human worth, from celebrities to the lowest caste in India. Children have different levels of ambition and drive which affect what they achieve in life.

This new generation of “special” children is becoming a nightmare in some work places as my sons and their friends have discovered. These children were given awards in school and events just for showing up. That is their attitude on the job. They show up and spend a chunk of their paid time on the phone, leaving others to pick up the slack. The kids who were told how special they are, tell my sons and peers that cleaning and stocking are beneath them. They are not handling feedback well either, since they did not have that opportunity as kids.

As someone witnessing the movement of boosting self-esteem in public schools, there is a connection from being told you are special to gaining a sense of entitlement. It is a rude awakening to learn later in life that the world does not owe you anything. Volunteering helps get the focus onto others so kids realize that they are not the only ones with needs. Helping the community gives meaning to life and feeling connected to others. Donating to charities is another way to banish a sense of entitlement.

Nurture and support your children after divorce. Give cuddles, have fun family time and encourage them to do sports or whatever they enjoy. Set boundaries to avoid kids from becoming little tyrants. Our job is to set kids on a path where they feel good about themselves, yet respect others and not have a sense of entitlement. Some parents have their children check in with a divorce coach to ensure that they are on the right path. If there are any areas of concern then these are addressed to help kids be well-adjusted in the post-divorce period.

 

What Children of Divorce Revealed to School Nurse

Parents’ divorces and dating lives have spilled over into their children’s schools. It does not matter who is right or who is wrong, when youngsters are drawn into adult matters. When parents are out for revenge, the kids are affected by the divorce drama. Parents seem to assume that their offspring have told classmates of the divorce. Many have not. Kids talk more in terms of activities – “I saw Star Wars with Dad” or “Mum took me ice skating” rather than “this is my week at Mum’s.” Classmates see those parents (sometimes separately) at school have no clue they are not still married. It can be awkward when one parent starts bringing a date when they drop by school.

Public displays of parental affection often are embarrassing to kids. It is more mortifying when Mum smooches her new beau at school and some are not aware she is divorced. Have a sense of decorum around the kid’s friends. One divorced mother happily announced at school that she was picking the kids up early so that they could accompany her and Tony for their weekend away in a nearby city. Her son cringed and looked at his shoes until they departed with his sister.

People will want to give you support during your divorce. They will inquire how things are with you. Either walk them outside of the school building before answering or say something vague. Your child may not be within ear shot, but their classmates are around. Kids are gossips and will tell your youngster what they overheard. Please do not trash talk the other parent in front of your child. This happens at school, but there is no way the staff is going to take sides in that battle. Our job is to be of support to the students.

Good communication between co-parents, school, and children is the key to making life smoother for the kids. Make it clear that you each want a copy of reports and advise the staff of your family situation.  I did a vision test on a young student who was going to need glasses. I gave her a written recommendation for follow up with an eye doctor. She asked which parent was to receive it. I quickly made another copy for her. She then told me that her parents were separating. This uncomfortable moment could have been avoided if the parents had given us an update. Another problem is when each parent assumes that the other one got needed items for a project. I had to call a divorced dad for a crying child who lacked something crucial for the science fair which was starting in one half hour. Do not assume that the co-parent got school supplies or specially needed materials.  Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/school-children-of-divorce/

 

Parental Polarization Post-Divorce

Parental polarization is when children are strongly attached to one parent and have a poor relationship with the other one. This is not about a baby clinging to his mother before spending time with his father. Polarization is when children truly balk at going to visitation and tell their therapist that they only want to be with a certain parent. It goes beyond “dad lets us stay up late and we have so much more fun together than with mum.” This becomes particularly evident during divorce when visitation is being initiated.

Divorce professionals have the task of determining whether the child is exhibiting polarization vs. parental alienation. Parental alienation syndrome has several components to it. The first one is that a parent may block or limit access to the other one. They may feel justified by this action because child support is late or nonexistent. However, this is impeding a child’s relationship with the absent parent and drawing her into a parental battle. A parent may claim that visitation is harming the child or is inconvenient with her schedule. The bottom line is that one parent is portrayed as inferior to the other one.

Another component to parental alienation is that a parent falsely accuses the other one of abuse or at least negligence. This can be intentional or the fact that they have different parenting styles and priorities. Meeting with a divorce coach can help them be on the same page particularly when no malice is intended. I have seen this in the schools where one will say how sick the child is after returning from the co-parent’s house. They are encouraging children to take their side.

A strong indicator of parental alienation is when the child has had good relationships with both parents before the divorce and has great animosity towards one now. A parent is verbally attacking the other one and the children are caught in the cross fire. The youngsters form an alliance with the attacker.

When children are polarized towards one parent, it has nothing to do with what that parent has said or done regarding the other one. The children do not suddenly go from being best buddies with a parent to mortal enemies, as can happen with parental alienation. The crux of the matter is, polarization is totally between a child and a parent without inference from anyone else, including the other parent.

When polarization occurs this is a red flag to investigate this situation. Why does the child not want to see the other parent?    Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/parental-polarization-vs-parental-alienation/

Do Not Stay Together for Children’s Sake

Study Says Children do not Want Parents to Stay Together for Their Sake

Staying together “for the sake of the kids” has long been one of the key factors that delays couples from separating or stops them altogether. Living together as amicably as they can when they are no longer in love seems, to many couples, preferable to the impact that separating will have on their children. New research, however, suggests that this view is misguided. Ultimately, not only is it not necessarily good for the parents to stay together, but in fact it is not even what the majority of kids really want.

Resolution, a major family legal organisation, surveyed 514 young people, aged 14-22 at the time of the survey, who had previously experienced the divorce of their parents. The considerable majority – 82% – agreed that ultimately it had been better for their parents to separate rather than to stay together for their sake.

However, many of them felt that the process and their role in it could have been-better handled in certain ways, particularly when it came to the degree of involvement they had in the decision-making process. More than 60% of young people surveyed said that they did not feel their parents had included them when it came to making the decision to separate. Roughly half of respondents said that they had not been consulted about which parent they would prefer to be primarily resident with or where they would like to live.

The survey did, however, also underline how difficult it can be for young people when their parents separate, and underlined the importance of not putting any more pressure on children during the divorce process. Nearly nine out of ten young people who took part in the survey agreed that parents should not make their children feel like the divorce process requires them to pick a side or to choose one parent over the other. Children are already in a difficult situation without such pressures being added to their concerns, as around half of those surveyed said the divorce of their parents left them feeling confused and almost a fifth (19%) reporting feelings of personal guilt about the breakup.

A number of other interesting statistics were uncovered by the survey. Around half of those surveyed felt that their parents had put their  needs first, which of course also means that roughly half felt their parents had not done this. When asked if there was anything they would have changed about the way the divorce was handled, 30% wished their parents could have better understood how they felt and 31% did not like the way their parents verbally criticised one another in front of them.

Speaking on the survey’s findings, Resolution chair Jo Edwards said: “Despite the common myth that it’s better to stay together for the sake of the kids, most children would rather their parents’ divorce than remain in an unhappy relationship.”

She continued: “Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what’s most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself.”

Author Bio Fletcher Day are a full service commercial law firm with an experienced family law team who specialise in divorce and finances, civil partnerships and all matters involving children.

 

Tips for Easier Co-Parenting Post-Divorce

There are ways to make co-parenting go a little easier for all involved. Remember this is all about your children, so making an extra effort will result in happier kids.

  1. Encourage the Grandparent connection. Grandparents can be the anchor for kids in the turbulence surrounding divorce. They can provide a haven where kids have fun and forget about their parents’ troubles. Your former in-laws may be waiting for you to make the first move or unsure if any bitterness towards their offspring is spilling over onto them. If one is uncomfortable talking to them at first, then send an e-mail or letter letting them know how important they are to your children’s lives.

An elderly couple was sad when their son and daughter-in-law got a divorce. These grandparents loved their young grandchildren’s mum and offered to babysit for her whenever she needed it. When they went out of town, they would give her a name of a family member as backup, who could watch the kids in a pinch. She appreciated this kindness, since her family did not live nearby.

  1. Clarify to the kids that you support their relationship with the other parent. They have overheard angry words and witnessed hostility. Explain that you both are not able to be married anymore, but you respect each other as parents. Reassure kids that there is not a tug-of-war going on with them caught in the middle. This will help them to feel happier and more relaxed about going between homes. When the kids are adjusting well, then co-parenting is easier.

3. Remember to send a present from the child to the other parent, for gift-receiving occasions.  He/she feels more appreciated and knows that you were behind this nice gesture. The kids then do not go empty-handed for birthdays and so forth.

  1. Reach out to the new step-parent, if feasible. They are helping to oversee care, meals and other routines. The shared time goes smoother when all are on the same page. My mum made sure that I invited my step-mother to my synchronized swimming performances. When step-parents feel included, it increases their connection to the children. When my step-grandfather was hospitalized a few times, he made sure my nurse mother was notified that he was a patient. She would pop down on her break to see this jolly fellow and get a big hug.

5. Communication. Communication. Communication. This was contributed by my younger son who has friends with divorced parents.

Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/top-5-co-parenting-tips/

Divorce with a Narcissist or Sociopath

Both the Narcissist and Sociopath (anti-social personality disorder) are toxic people who are difficult to deal with during divorce. There are subtle differences between these two types of characters. The main point is a Narcissist craves attention and adoration. She has to be the star, whereas that is not the case with a Sociopath. A Narcissist will specifically seek out publicity and a Sociopath wants power over others. A Narcissist will have a position in a charity organization that is in the spotlight such as managing director. The Sociopath is more likely to be the one embezzling funds. The Narcissist desires being in the news and the Sociopath is flying under the radar avoiding that in order to carry out nefarious deeds.

Sociopaths do not have a conscience and their moral code is “do not get caught.” At a young age a Sociopath is apt to torture animals and torment those weaker than him. This child is charming to adults with exaggerated good manners as a smoke screen to disguise his true nature. They have a sense of entitlement and do not hesitate to trample upon anyone who gets in their way. Some of the financial executives who do inside trading and other illegal acts told the press that they did nothing wrong. In their eyes, this is correct.

Both manipulate others for their gain. They blame others when they make mistakes or life is not going as planned. They can ignore family or belittle spouses. Narcissists especially do not like it if a spouse rises up the career ladder and has a more important position. They do not want to share the spotlight. Sociopaths can have a volatile temper which is unpredictable and is especially scary for children.

Sociopaths may have their children join in their immoral or illegal activities.

. They watch pornography with their sons. Criminal families may bring the kids into the business at a young age. The youngsters participate in a shoplifting or burglary ring. In my area recently, three generations of several families were plying the drug trade together.

Narcissists use their kids as a way to garner more attention to themselves. They play the good parent role and march the children around the office to get praise. They see the kids as an extension of themselves and may insist that their kids follow in their footsteps. A former dancer may demand that her daughter does ballet. These parents want to bask in the admiration that surrounds their child. They want others to comment that the offspring is like their talented, beautiful, etc. parent.

In divorce, both personality disorders are capable of using the kids to get back at their other parent in retaliation. Since the Sociopath feels no remorse, they may be the more dangerous adversary. Be cautious of safety issues especially with a sociopath co-parent. Neither are good at negotiating since they want the whole pie. The Narcissists get through the divorce process better with lots of compliments and letting them feel like they are the star. With a Sociopath, emphasize maintenance and child support formulas to make it more impersonal. More drama and emotions can prolong divorce hearings. Having a divorce coach or therapist at least periodically check in with the children is prudent.

Both Narcissists and Sociopaths may act like they are the victim and you are the villain.  They may charm your family members and end up with a few in their camp post-divorce. They are attempting to hurt you.  My sons and I have said good riddance to the ones who sided with their father. Sociopaths particularly excel in power plays and want to dominate others. Consider avoiding doing battle with these people and stay out of their way if possible.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Podcast about narcissists vs sociopaths soundcloud.com/divorcesux/divorcing-a-narcissist-ep009

The Dos and Don’ts of Co-Parenting

Co-parenting is a modern term in the divorce world. When my parents walked out of the divorce court, they never communicated with each other ever again and certainly not about me. Co-parenting implies cooperation and dialogue. The former spouses are no longer partners in marriage but are so in raising their children.

Society today may be more complex with so many choices, or parents like mine did not consider the need to discuss children with each other post-divorce. Custody is usually joint, which means both parents have the right to decide what schools and activities their children will attend.

Cooperative Parenting Tips For Success:

There are ways to make co-parenting easier on the parents and more effective for the kids. Consider having a regularly scheduled meeting, perhaps monthly, to discuss issues or activities of the kids. Have an agenda, just as you would for a conference at work.

If one parent veers off course into blame or other toxic areas, calmly steer them back to the topic being discussed, “We were talking about Jane’s wish to change schools….”  Keep emotion out of the discussion and treat the other parent as you would an excitable co-worker. These meetings do not have to be in person if it is difficult to be in their presence. Using Skype or the phone is fine, even if they only live a few streets away.

Co-parenting is easier when both are on the same page and do not feel left out of anything. There are various online calendars and apps which let each parent view and add activities or events in the youngsters’ lives. It is easy to put in dance recitals, sports tournaments, and school concerts into a schedule. This way one parent cannot blame the other one for not notifying them of something. Remember to keep grandparents up-to-date on the kids’ events so they can attend.

Some parents have a notebook that goes back and forth between homes, which is particularly helpful with young children. This is good when a child has asthma or a food allergy so both know when an inhaler or Epi-pen was administered. This also is useful for medical conditions like seizures.  If there are incidents at school or other information that needs to be relayed, the notebook is another method of communication.  Please read more … divorcedmoms.com/articles/coparenting-it-doesnt-have-to-be-difficult

 

Christmas Experiences Beat Materialism

Budgets may be stretched to the breaking point after a divorce – so think about concentrating on experiences vs a mountain of presents during the holidays. If you reminisce about your childhood, it is the fun times during the holidays that you remember – not the particular Barbie outfit or model airplane received.

Taking the focus off materialism and on to what is really meaningful, is a life lesson in itself. The children are now getting two sets of presents after divorce. Do not try to compete with your former spouse in the gift arena nor try to make up for their divorce experience with extravagant material goods. Shift traditions from having the opening of gifts as the main event, to more of a short activity before the festive feast, visiting grandma or whatever.

Explain to the children that you have less money to spend on gifts and to let you know one (or several) things that are most important to them. My sons’ favorite present is their stocking bursting with chocolate and small goodies. Decide together what holiday activities would be fun to do. Here are a few suggestions mainly supplied by my sons, to do before Christmas instead of blowing money:

  • Go to a live nativity and especially enjoy the animals who are stealing the show. A nearby church has one every year with hot chocolate, cookies and carols. The sheep, donkeys etc. are just adorable (and ornery).
  • Walk downtown in the evening and enjoy the festive holiday displays. It is like wandering around in a fairyland of lights. We top that off with lattes and a treat afterwards at a coffee shop which is opened late.
  • Check your Chamber of Commerce or another local guide for free holiday events, such as a tree lighting, Santa parade, children’s chorus and so forth.    Please read more:   divorcedmoms.com/articles/how-to-take-the-focus-off-of-materialism-during-the-holidays

Christmas as a Single Parent – Some Tips

Divorce is a way to weed out holiday rituals that have become stale, from the ones with meaning. Revamp your holiday to-do-list with some fresh traditions to start your new life as a single parent. Since it is only my two sons and I in our city, we go to the cinema on Christmas Day for an exciting blockbuster film. It gives us something fun to anticipate after opening presents and having brunch.

Ask the children for input on what they like best about Christmas Eve/Day and their answers may surprise you. Consuming an elaborate dinner that takes hours to prepare may not even be on their Wish List. Getting a pizza or eating comfort food on Christmas Eve while watching a marathon of holiday movies, may be what they desire. Save yourself loads of work by incorporating new, low key traditions into this frenetic Christmas season. My sons wanted to stop the tedious activity of making and frosting sugar cookies. They substituted assembling a pre-cooked gingerbread house from a German kit. They enjoy creatively decorating the house and it is fun instead of a chore.

It is the uninterrupted time spent with children that matters– rather than frantically flitting from one holiday event to another. This means turn off your devices and be fully present. My sons and I attended a children’s Christmas concert in Germany last December. These angelic voices were heavenly, yet an American woman in the front row was glued to her smart phone. A few of the young soloists looked hurt as they watched her not paying attention to them. When my now adult sons look back upon our Christmases, it is time spend just hanging out together watching “ The Grinch that Stole Christmas” and others, while downing holiday goodies that means the most to them.

If you are negotiating how to split holidays – think about which part is more special to you.  Please read more…   www.divorcemag.com/blog/christmas-tips-for-single-parents

Step-Parents’ Guide on Blended Families

Step-parents and children can thrive in blended families with a little understanding of the process. Merging begins with the Courting Phase, just as with dating. People are on their best behaviour, showing their good side and hiding their less stellar points. They may be more giving than usual, saying “I’ll take your glass to the sink, just sit there darling.”

Then comes the Honeymoon Phase. The newly blended family is having extra fun, going to amusement parks and keeping occupied with other enjoyable pursuits. Life is one big holiday and individuals are getting along so well. Then day to day reality sets in. Not only is the sink pointed out to the child, but so is the mop and dust cloth. Chores materialize and the honeymoon is over. Disenchantment can set in on both sides. The children may become sulky when life is no longer all fun and games. The step-parent wonders what happened to the sweet kids and who are these opinionated brats?

How to make blending go smoother? Be your authentic self at all times. Be warm and kind, but not bending over backwards to fulfil the children’s every whim. From day one, let them know that there is no maid service, so everyone takes their glasses to the sink. You are not their best friend and let them warm up to you on their own time schedule. Do not attempt to bribe them with presents to win them over. Even if they never come around completely, insist upon respect and good manners, not love. Let them know you are there for them, whenever they want help.

Realize that people are on their best behaviour during the Courting Phase, so do not be blindsided when reality sets in. Children can be great, but have to let off steam. Do not take it personally when it happens. Some of my friends have talked about their own step-mothers to their new step-children. They emphasize what great family friends they are and how they fill a special supportive role.

As a biological parent, consider having regular family meetings to air concerns and set up a rota for chores. My step-mother gave me chores to do when I came over on the weekends and this helped me to feel a part of her family. I felt like I did my share and was not a guest. Give expected behaviour guidelines, such as treating everyone with respect. Ask kids what special treats and fun they would like, but be clear that you are not getting a bank loan to do expensive activities every weekend. It was the little things that I enjoyed most with my step-mum, such as making paper dolls or baking brownies. One step-dad was great at helping his step-son maintain his clunker of a car. It is the experiences that are so meaningful to step-kids.

Expect bumps in the road. Life may be going smoothly, then there is chaos. This can be a result of children turning into teens or other issues. The key is communication. Attempt to discuss what is going on. If things become more difficult, consider a session or two with a divorce coach to get everyone back on track. One may discover that there are issues with the other parent or difficulties at school.

With time, blended families grow to love, or at least like each other. It was wonderful for me to gain an instant extended family, since I am an only child. It helps when the biological parent is supportive of the new step-parent, as my mother was of my step-mum.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine       www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Single Parenting Post-Divorce

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.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine       www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Go on a Christmas Cruise Post-Divorce

IMG_1613One way to start new Christmas traditions is to get away from it all and wipe the slate clean after divorce. No more “this was what we did when we were still married last Christmas Eve.” One happily divorced woman who is now my friend, went on a Christmas/New Year’s cruise solo. She chose to surround herself with many people and felt the Christmas spirit. Not needing a date to dance the night away on New Year’s Eve was a bonus.

On cruises, there are often get-togethers for the single passengers of all ages. Beats moping around one’s flat when friends are occupied with their own holiday plans. Both my sons and I did two holiday cruises on Cunard’s QE2 with my husband and mother. Then just the three of us did two post- divorce ones on Holland America.

What are holiday cruises like?

The anticipation starts months ahead of time when selecting the destinations. The cruises are a nice mix of exploring other cultures during the day and consuming scrumptious meals on board while possibly being serenaded by a string quartet. It was a unique experience hearing a steel band in the Caribbean playing carols and seeing Gibraltar decked out in Christmas decorations. There are different types of entertainment – concerts, musicals, comedians, magic shows, plus much more. Other activities are lectures, cooking demonstrations, computer classes, quizzes, and bridge, just to mention a few. One can be sociable or chill out reading in a quiet corner. The kids are kept busy and the single parents get some alone time or to interact with other adults. The staff puts on a show and sings carols. The QE2 had a traditional British Christmas which included a hilarious pantomime. Holland America embraced its Dutch heritage with their special foods and celebrations.

I packed my sons’ Christmas stockings with several small gifts. I picked up something on the trip, a local t-shirt or souvenir, since the cruise is their present. Having just a few stocking stuffers to open gets the focus off material goods and puts the emphasis on shared experiences. At home we never attended so many holiday programs or ate such feasts as we did on board.

The ships were decorated exquisitely and not having to take down the tree and so forth is a gift in itself. The time we did not spend getting tasks done in the frenetic holiday season meant we could bond in a stress-free environment. A few singles told me that they tucked away presents from their families and looked forward to opening them on Christmas Day. If you enjoy a surprise, consider going to a shop with items you like (skin serum for me) and pay them to wrap up something you can have on Christmas day.

The adults seemed to enjoy Father Christmas’s appearance on Christmas almost as much as the children.

He and the elves gave out presents while the adults sipped their spiked egg nog. My twenty-two year old was excited that Father Christmas remembered the college kids on board too.

A priest conducted lovely Christmas Eve and Day masses (actually every day). Classic holiday movies are shown in the cinema and being on this type of cruise is truly magical.

Book early since the holiday ones sell out.

I bring two non-religious holiday cards and put a little cash in them. One is a present for our cabin steward and the other for the waiter and the assistant at our table.  The money I do not spend on gifts, decorating, entertainment and food pays a chunk of the cruise price. It is possible to get cruise ships out of Southampton and other UK ports which saves on transportation costs.

As a single mother it is easier to budget for a cruise holiday, since I know the costs up front. We drink water and do not have added fees, such as a beverage or alcohol package. We eat in the main dining room which is included, and forgo the pricey specialty restaurants which are not. Some cruise lines include shore excursions in their price and others alcohol with meals. Look carefully at what is included and do some comparison shopping.

I asked various singles if they felt lonely on a cruise over the holidays and their answers were a big “no.” On the various holiday and regular cruises, quite a few passengers are travelling on their own.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

How to Parent Your Way After a Divorce

You may feel that you have ruined your child’s life following a divorce but do not fret because you haven’t. Yes, a divorce can play a large part in the life of a child but ultimately, how they develop, is down to both parents.

There will be times where you may come across situations that are common following a divorce but how you deal with them is important, ensuring that your child does not get affected.

It is important to understand that after a divorce you are going to find it difficult. You are likely to feel a whole range of emotions and so will your child but in reality you have every right to fall apart. Remember that you do not have to hide all of your feelings but do not tell them too much as it puts them in the position of an adult. Instead, explain that you are having a difficult time but it will become easier.

Understanding that your child is also going through many different emotions is important but do not let guilt get the better of you so that you become more lenient. If they break rules then ensure that you enforce the same punishment as you would have previously. However, find out why they are behaving like this and see what they have to say.

It is important that your child remains a child as many can often feel that they have to fill the void left by the other parent. If this happens then let your child know that they have to live their own life and not worry about how you care for yourself.

Some children act out after a divorce for reasons such as unwanted changes, sad emotions and they may even feel that the divorce is their fault. Trying to understand this behaviour is the way to tackle it and letting your child know that you need them to work with you and not against you is the way to move forward.

When parents split they often parent in different ways but remember that when you have your children with you, you are in charge. So make rules and enforce them and expect your child to follow them when they are with you. However, if possible, work with your ex-partner because suggestions can be made and concerns can be aired.

Of course, many relationships end because of constant disagreements which means your ex may disagree with your parenting methods. If this is the case then tell them that you are satisfied with the way in which you are doing things and that is all they need to know.

Children should not get caught in the middle, where they feel like they have to take sides. Do not talk negatively about your ex and if your child repeats the negative thoughts of your ex then answer in a non-defensive way so that it does not look like a battle.

Some children play one parent off the other but do not allow that to happen. Explain to your child that they will have to abide by your rules when they are with you. There is one way to deal with this and that is to talk to the other parent to find out if they have changed the rules or even if you can negotiate with each other but do not give messages to your child to relay back to the other parent.

Moving between houses can be difficult for children and they may begin to act out which could be their way of expressing their anger. Understand these behaviours and what is causing them by asking them why they may seem angry or sad. If the behaviour continues, ignore it until they have calmed down and then respond but makes sure that positive behaviour is acknowledged.

Author Bio K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, with an expert team of family law professionals who are experienced in all aspects of family and divorce law.

Considerations for an Only Child in Divorce

Being an only child has special considerations in the divorce period. They are not living with another ally who totally gets their unique situation. While parents, a therapist, and close buddies are sympathetic, no one else completely understands what that child is going through with divorce and shared care as a sibling does. Have heard siblings state, “it’s us against the world,” and variations of this theme, and as an only child, I felt that this situation was harder for me. Only children may not express loneliness or feelings of isolation, so it is imperative to monitor how they are adjusting. Consider having them check in periodically with a divorce coach or therapist to ensure concerns or problems are being addressed. Children may seem okay, but are not wanting to burden you about transitions or other custody issues which are stressful. At least have a neutral third party, such as a god parent, have a heart–to-heart with an only child.

Children like to have fun with other kids, so consider encouraging the only child to invite a friend along on some expeditions. Going on thrill-seeking rides at an amusement park can be more fun when sharing this experience with a buddy rather than with an adult. A parent gets to enjoy the company of their kid while they also have a blast with a pal. Mainly being in the company of grown-ups (parents who justifiably want to make the most of their shared time) can get old. Kids enjoy being with others their same age, just as we adults want time with our peers. Getting kids together with cousins is a way to be with them and increase the family bond. When I had visitation with my father, my stepmother wisely sensed I wanted to be with another kid and often invited her niece (my age) to join in our fun. – See more at: www.divorcemag.com/blog/divorce-and-the-only-child#sthash.7alg50ue.dpuf

How to Tell Your Children That You Are Separating

Children-Separation

Children Crave Routines Post-Divorce

Small gestures make a big difference to children with helping them adjust to divorce. The overwhelming response from kids of divorce was routines make life more enjoyable. Their world is drastically changing and now they are dealing with loss. Divorce itself changes people’s schedules and turns lives upside down. A weekly routine puts constancy and lightness back into their environment.

Several boys mentioned getting an ice cream regularly with their parent brought predictability and gave them something to anticipate. This is easy enough to do with a youngster, perhaps every Friday after school nip into a shop on the way home for this luscious treat. A little girl goes to a bakery and sips hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream, while she chats to mum about her week. Yes, she could say this at home, but this time is free from distraction and she gets undivided attention. One boy said about once a month his mum took him to the cinema at the mall and they each got a slice of pizza. What actions may seem trivial to you can mean a great deal to the child.

It is time spent with children rather than buying them trinkets and gadgets that is most important, as was explained by one boy.  Memories of playing board games and picnics in the park got him through his parents’ acrimonious divorce, not more junk. It can be tempting to try to make up for sadness that comes with divorce, by giving kids a bounty of material goods. What youngsters crave is your attention. My son works in a restaurant and witnesses on a daily basis parents glued to their smartphones and totally ignoring the kids. Of course then kids act up for attention and get yelled at. Do not spoil these lovely routines with the little ones, by paying more attention to whomever you are texting then you do to them.

Once a month, my mother took me out to breakfast at a beautiful downtown hotel near my school. We feasted on freshly squeezed orange juice and other delectables while gazing out into their lovely garden. I cherished this kind act of my divorced mother. Seems like most of the rituals that divorce families enjoy revolve around food. Some have weekly spaghetti nights or pizza in with a movie. Small, but much appreciated gestures to kids, are routinely watching boxed sets, such as “Breaking Bad.” It does not take up much time out of a busy schedule to do these little things with the children.

Some people do a yearly ritual, such as a long weekend at the seaside.  There are some great deals in the UK as well as on the continent. Others pick a particular time each year and go back home to visit family and friends. The kids enjoy this annual holiday and keeping in touch with others. I used to take my sons to an amusement park yearly and knowing we would have this fun, made it easier to get through some visitation issues. My sons enjoyed going to a coffee shop on bank holidays when there was no school.

Ask your kids what they would enjoy on a regular basis. Divorce and the aftermath can be difficult and building scheduled fun into your lives is a big stress buster. Think of these treats and time spent together as a necessary way to improve family ties, well-being and health.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Perks of Single Parenting 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.

Please read more… www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/single-parenting/

Tips for the Single Dad

There are ways to have a workable relationship with your ex and to make co-parenting go smoother. Remember, the kids are not a prize and the situation is not winner take all. Thirty-year-old Charlie is a plumber in his family’s business and has a lot of tips for other single fathers:

1.  Show that you are dependable. That eases the mind of the other parent who then may be willing to compromise. Charlie is punctual, and is reliable getting his son to school and activities. The mother knows her son is in good hands when he is with dad.

2. Be low-key in negotiations and leave your ego at home. Charlie claimed by being “submissive” during negotiations, he was able to get his son five nights a week for the last three years. Being aggressive is off-putting to the co-parent, who may balk at demands. By showing he was willing to talk things through and to listen gave him more time with his son. They were going to court to have a judge make a ruling for a point that could not be agreed upon. Standing on the court steps, this former couple looked at each other and said it was “nuts.” They went inside, cancelled the court hearing and talked things over at a nearby coffee house. Charlie advises to give a little more in negotiations so that they do not hit a road block.

3. Be willing to try something on a trial basis. The other parent may go along with your wishes if they do not feel locked into a new plan. – See more at: www.divorcemag.com/blog/a-guide-for-the-single-dad#sthash.7RR3reMf.xQgBye9C.dpuf

– See more at: www.divorcemag.com/blog/a-guide-for-the-single-dad#sthash.7RR3reMf.dpuf

Action to Take When Denied Visitation

It is maddening, not to mention illegal when one parent prevents the other one from seeing their children. Studies indicate that children do better academically and with their behaviour when both parents are in the picture. The key is to remedy this situation and reconnect with the kids as soon as possible. Hindering visitation is violating the parenting plan and has legal ramifications. Being behind in child support is not a reason to be banned from contact with the little ones.

Document. Document. Document. This is crucial in building a case, particularly when taking legal action. Save all texts, voice and e-mails and jot down the times and dates of conversations. Keep records of any contact with your ex. Some parents have a calendar which they write on when they have visitation and when they have been blocked from it.

Try to communicate and work with your former partner on why visitation is being disrupted. Let them know that you are willing to listen to their concerns. Could there be any validity to their accusations – that you are chronically late returning the youngsters or sometimes cancel at the last minute? See if it is possible to negotiate a new visitation agreement that meets the kids’ needs in a better way. Remember the goal of shared care time is what is in the best interests of the children – not the parents.

If you are told that the kids do not want to see you, remind the co-parent that visitation is to take place unless legally stopped. Parental alienation may be happening with the other parent lying or telling the kids that you stopped contact. Parental alienation’s goal is to turn the children away from the absent parent and get him/her to go away. Go to the Cafcass officer or to your mediator/solicitor to take legal action and have visitation enforced. Petition the court to have the kids see a therapist or divorce coach for possible parental alienation and to discuss their concerns in this divorce situation. Talking to a neutral third party is beneficial for the kids especially when they have been told lies which damaged their relationship with you.

Are there mutual friends that can intervene or let the children know that both parents love them? Are you on good terms with any former in-laws who may be able to knock some sense into the other parent’s head? Consider if the other parent is a flight risk, especially if they are from a country outside of the EU. It may be prudent to discuss this with passport control and a solicitor to prevent the other parent from kidnapping the kids and going into hiding.

Make sure to take care of yourself and your health. It may be helpful to discuss your frustration with a divorce coach. Maintain your social network to provide support for you during this trying time. Exercise is a great way to release anxiety. Nurture yourself so you have the energy to pursue action and reunite with your children.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

Children Need Contact with Both Parents

It may be tempting to keep your children away from your ex when you are angry with her, or he is behind with child support. Are your thwarting time with the other parent for the children’s sake, or for yours? Be clear on the motivation behind your actions. A parent may think that they have good reasons to stop visitation, however youngsters need both parents in their lives. One may be angry at what a jerk a former partner is, however they still have the right to maintain a parent-child relationship. There are even programs to help inmates maintain a positive relationship with their kids while they are incarcerated.

Kids are shrewd and will get it at some point that one parent is hampering contact with the absent one. One young women completely cut off ties with her father after realizing the wall he built between her and her mum was due to his lies and manipulations. A child did not feel close to her mother because of her frequent putdowns of her father and bursts of anger. Interfering with a child’s relationship with the other parent can come back and bite you on the bum. Instead, model generosity in sharing them with their other parent and being flexible if plans need to be tweaked for special occasions.

Various studies have shown that kids who have both parents in their lives do better on cognitive tests and have less behavioural issues. The US Department of Health said children who have contact with both parents have stronger academic skills and more emotional control. A Swedish study found that stress caused headaches, stomach aches and insomnia in kids. In two parent homes when children had close contact with both mum and dad, these health issues were reduced. I have also seen kids with these aches in my school nurse’s office when co-parenting was confrontational or the other parent was not in the picture.

There are legal consequences to be faced when obstructing court mandated shared care. The other parent can haul you before a judge in contempt of court for violating the parenting plan and divorce decree. A court order (amount of shared care) is a binding legal decree and not a suggestion. A parent may lose custody or have a decrease in shared care time by hindering visitation. Parental alienation is when one parent is trash talking the other one and persuading the child to turn against the absent parent. Slander is a serious charge and is when a person makes false allegations against someone else. This can end up as a law suit.

If there are legitimate concerns of abuse, neglect, or child endangerment, follow an appropriate course of action and not take the law into your own hands. In an urgent situation, call the police. Otherwise, share concerns with the Cafcass officer, your solicitor/mediator, or domestic violence shelter. Document any perceived abuse. Inquire about setting up supervised visitation or having it at a Children’s Contact Centre. These are ways to keep your child safe, ease your anxiety, and foster a relationship with the co-parent. People that make the news are not the parents that follow the directive of shared care, but the ones who do a runner with a kid or throw a spanner into the works of visitation.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

 

When and If to Get a Divorce

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Women and DivorceSome people have said that they waited too long before divorcing, but I have yet to hear someone say they jumped the gun and initiated one too soon. There are many factors involved in determining if and when a divorce ought to commence.  A main one seems to be regarding children and their ages. One man felt that he stayed seven years too long in his marriage, choosing to wait until the last child went off to uni. He stated that the love was gone and the marriage was dead – however he stayed because he wanted to see his kids every day. In hindsight, he thinks it harmed his sons witnessing coldness and disinterest between a married couple. Another stayed in an unhappy marriage since her husband was their sons’ Boy Scout troop leader. She thought the boys would feel more secure with both parents in the home. Eight years post-divorce her sons are still asking what took her so long to file for divorce.

When to Divorce

For those on the fence about whether to stay or go, The Divorce Magazine UK has a link to various resources that are invaluable in the pre-divorce period too. Maypole Women has resources as well for women and children in a potential divorce situation. Relate and Retrouvaille do marital counselling to see if the relationship can be repaired. The admission of an affair brings on the death of a marriage. The betrayed spouse may not want to bestow another chance on the guilty party, so proceeds with filing for a divorce.

When there is abuse – get yourself, the youngsters and pets out of the house. That does not automatically mean a divorce is imminent – just that safety is the top priority. Sometimes with therapy and anger management classes, the abuser can be rehabilitated and the marriage is salvageable.   One criteria for deciding upon divorce is how much inappropriate behaviour is witnessed or directed at the children. When one parent is knocking around the other one – that is detrimental for the kids to see.

It is hard to watch a spouse self-destruct via alcohol or drugs. One may be supportive, but wonder when enough is enough. Consider getting therapy or joining Al-Anon. “Al-Anon Family Groups provide support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of whether that person is still drinking or not. For some of our members, the wounds still run deep, even if their loved one may no longer be a part of their lives or have died.”  Some people have included in the parenting plan that the impaired parent is not allowed to drive the children anywhere. Visitation can be at a relative’s or at a Children’s Contact Centre.

A couple can drift along in different directions and find themselves without much in common. This can happen when facing an Empty Nest. What some couples have done was to take up a new project, such as buying a fixer-upper cottage in the UK or abroad. This injected a new vitality, passion and focus to their lives and relationship, plus gave them something to talk about. Several couples took up a sport or hobby, such as golf. They hit the links at home as well as in exotic locales. Others discovered a shared interest and became certified in scuba diving or volunteered with EarthWatch.

When boundaries are violated or a spouse is disrespectful and belittling, that is I when have seen couples getting divorced. Relationships may limp along until one or both decide to put it out of its misery with a divorce. The opposite of love is not hate, but rather it is indifference.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

Great Travel Destinations for Families

IMG_1723School is almost out and time is nearing for vacation. Taking trips together recharges the family’s batteries and strengthens the relationship. Here are my top 10 picks for family fun!

1. London. This is an easy place to navigate with an extensive underground and bus system. There are great travel deals on airline tickets and packaged tours to this exciting destination. Famous sites, such as The Tower of London, Big Ben and Parliament are steeped in history and the subject of nursery rhymes. Relive Rolling Stone’s lyrics by walking around London, “She gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore.” London is walkable city with attractions close together. Must see museums include Madame Tussaud’s, the Natural History Museum and the gruesome London Dungeon. Huge city parks are just the ticket to release pent up kid energy or take a walk in nature. It is easy to buy baby supplies and I was able to pack lightly.

2. Anywhere there is a beach. We stayed at the Outer banks, North Carolina with a baby who happily played in the sand. My mother took me every summer to the Jersey Shore which had fun boardwalks and great beaches. Friends in Los Angeles sail to Catalina Island with their sons and enjoy the laid back atmosphere. My young sons and I stayed in St. Thomas and Nevis and liked the turquoise water. Farther afield is Fiji which has child-friendly hotels and beaches. The activities are geared towards families whether in the water or taking a guided nature walk.

3. Alaska. My sons and I went twice on Holland America cruises around Alaska. The ships dock a short distance from town or nature trails which makes it easy to get around if one is in a stroller. My sons learned a lot about wildlife, nature and Native American culture. They heard about history, including the Gold Rush and got to walk inside a famous bordello (their highlight).

4. Dude Ranches. Friends have enjoyed hours of horseback riding and hiking into wilderness on these ranch vacations. There are campfires with sing-a-longs and roasted marshmallows. One can be close to nature without camping.

5. The American West.  There are some breath-taking parks, such as Yellowstone. Pristine nature packed with wildlife.

divorcedmoms.com/articles/planninng-your-summer-vacation-10-best-destinations

Grandparents’ Role Post-Divorce

The grandparent’s role post-divorce can be tricky – a balancing act between supporting their own offspring and not showing frustration towards the other parent. Having contact with their former daughter/son-in-law can be viewed as an act of treason by their own adult child. Yet continuing a relationship with this former family member is a logical way to ensure contact with grandkids. Keeping feelings, advice, and opinions to themselves is difficult, however it is a wise way to maintain the equilibrium when grandchildren are in the picture.

Grandparents’ most important function is providing a haven where youngsters receive unconditional love. When kids are caught in the middle of warring parents, spending time with grandparents helps to offset this stress. They feel safe and can share their unsettling feelings. The Grandparents’ role is to listen and validate this frustration without appearing to take parental sides. My former mother-in-law badmouthed me within hearing distance of my sons and her passive husband refused to come to their aid. This behavior backfired and my sons limited their time being in their company.

Grandparents are many times the ones who hand down family traditions, whether it is baking holiday cookies or the secret recipe for a signature meal. They teach skills such as gardening or nurture family talents as in woodworking or playing the piano. They tell family stories and talk about emigrating from a distant land.

When there are blended families, it is often grandparents who welcome the new additions. My step-grandparents treated me as one of the gang and asked about my mother. My paternal grandparents on a farm enjoyed getting two new step-grandkids. They taught them skills, such as milking a cow and harvesting potatoes. My step-siblings and I were welcomed with open arms by both of our families.

Please read more… divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-importance-of-grandparents-after-divorce

 

Children’s View on Divorce

Parents may feel that they are sailing through divorce, yet children can view it quite differently. As a part-time school nurse, I have listened to many children who end up in my nurse’s office with stress induced health issues. Here is what kids wish their parents knew:

  • We are not property that has to be divided equally. One youngster developed an eye twitch after his parents’ divorce. They tried to be fair splitting assets and this carried over to shared care 50/50. The boy did not like the frequent switches to each parent’s home. I spoke to the mother about this boy’s concern. The parents were able to negotiate that he would spend 75% at his mum’s and 25% with dad. His dad would be able to pick Aiden up at his mum’s for an activity and return him there afterwards. The twitch went away with this new arrangement and Aiden enjoyed time with each parent.
  •  Do not march into battle over us. It may be appropriate in a Victorian novel to fight over a loved one, but not in this era. I had one student who spent all morning in my nurse’s office while his parents went to war in court over custody that day. His teacher sent this lad to me, since he was incapable of learning in the classroom. Reassure the child that his custody wishes will be taken into consideration. Keep kids out of the divorce drama and do not share details with them.
  •  We want to know that there will be some continuity in our lives. Let the kids know that while divorce details are still being decided, the main points in their lives will remain the same. The children will attend their current schools and maintain contact with friends. They will still go to sports practices, dance classes, scouting, or whatever activities they participate in now.
  •  We want some say in our lives. Loss of control equals ending up in my nurse’s office with headaches or stomach aches. While kids do not set boundaries or make the rules – they certainly can have some input. Let them help with family decisions, such as do we want a summer holiday, or spread treats out during the year and have a staycation? Ask what their priorities are and work on a strategy together on how to reach them.• Listen to us when we try and get your attention. Do not let a small problem turn into a big one because you are barely able to keep your head above water. I have seen a few kids develop eating disorders after parents’ divorces.Check in with your children at least weekly to let them air their concerns. Some do this at family meetings to discuss issues and go over the weekly schedule and upcoming events. Kids who feel lost in the shuffle may turn to the comfort of drugs and alcohol. When busy, doing parallel activities side by side with the kids still counts as spending time with them.• Please do not talk to me about the other parent or your frustrations with them. Kids know our strengths and weaknesses and do not require having them pointed out by the other parent. I just tell my son that both of his parents have made mistakes and he can see what worked and use that when he becomes a parent.

    Do not make excuses about the absent parent which gets our hopes up and confuses us about reality. If a parent does not pick up the child for visitation or carries through on a promise, do not defend them. That can prolong agony or give false expectations when one parent wants to step out of the picture. You do not know what is going on in the absent parent’s heart or mind, so do not give reassurances. Instead focus on the child. Acknowledge the child’s feelings, saying that you can see she is disappointed/frustrated. Perhaps introduce a diversion, such as suggesting she call a friend now for a pizza sleepover.If you feel that your children are not adjusting to the divorce situation, then consider taking them to meet with a divorce coach or therapist.

    Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Empty Nest article on Maria Shriver’s web site

It is that time of year, the kids are leaving for college and leaving us with an Empty Nest. After all the years of driving them to school, making dinners and having pizza nights, we will be having an eerily quiet house. Many of us wish we could take back those nights we worked too late or missed school plays, and turn back the clock. Some of us are still adjusting to a recent divorce and now have to face another life changing event…our children leaving home Remember the Empty Nest syndrome is a form of grief, as we are mourning the possibility that our children will never be living under our roofs full-time again.

How does one escape the empty nest doldrums?

1. Have a plan for an immediate adventure or fun event as soon as your child leaves for college. My friend took her youngest to college last August in New York City. After getting her daughter settled in, she stayed with her college roommate whom she had not seen in two decades. Her pal lived just outside the city and they had so much fun that she felt a little guilty for not missing her daughter right away. She then went on to visit her sister in a nearby state for more good times.

2. Nurture yourself. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge the pain that you are suffering, and seek some remedies. Mine was to meet a friend for a latte and get a blissful pedicure after my son left. I got a stack of favorite British magazines and dove into them while munching on high quality chocolate.

3. Reach out to others in the same situation. I get together with my fellow Empty Nesters for films and fun. I joined two MeetUp.com groups for a variety of activities. See if there are any groups that you might like, such a book club or a hiking one. Some women that I know became more active in the groups that they were already in. Please read more…
mariashriver.com/blog/2014/11/6-ways-to-transitions-from-single-parent-to-empty-nest-divorced-moms/

Tips on Raising Great Sons as a Single Mother

 

Here are a few hints for single moms to help sons grow into spectacular young men. Raising sons is an adventure for me, with an uncharted course into unfamiliar territory. My older son gave input into what has worked and was has not with this endeavor.

1. Have clear boundaries, so there is no need to micromanage. When my son went out with buddies, I did not call him. He was expected home at a reasonable hour, so I did not check up on him during the evening. A few friends had mothers who “burned up their sons’ cell phones” and kept asking where they were at any given time. If my son would have stumbled in drunk, or came home at 4 am, then there would have been consequences. My son said that I trusted him so did not feel the need to rebel.

2. Do not trash talk his father, but do answer any questions. My strategy was not to speak about my sons’ father in any way. I just did not mention him. My younger son did not refer to his father, but sometimes my older one did. He said that I answered the question briefly and to the point, without elaborating or adding emotion. Pretend the question is about a cartoon character and just answer matter-of-factly.

3. Have male role models available, even if they are on good terms with their father. Your sons are not seeing their father every day, so these adults enrich your sons’ lives. My younger one is into chess and has several strong male mentors. My older one used to participate in martial arts, and had male instructors who introduced ethics and discipline into these lessons. Seek out strong male role models in areas such as scouts, fencing, and other pursuits.

4. Let your sons develop their manly skills, such as do-it-yourself (DIY). They learned to do household repairs that have saved me money and boosted their sense of self. Maybe they could learn to grill, varnish your deck, and mow the lawn. Now when my sons see something that needs fixing, they just take care of it.

5. Boys of all ages like to play, whether they are five or fifty-five.
A Single Mom’s Guide To Raising Great Sons huff.to/1CWbQ1s via @HuffPostDivorce @wendischuller

divorcedmoms.com/articles/a-single-moms-guide-to-raising-great-sons

Being a Single Parent has Brought Me Closer to My Children

A bad marriage takes a lot of energy away from the children. As a single mother, I now have lots to spare. It took effort keeping up appearances and being an enabler in the happy family façade. I can be my authentic self and just hang out with the kids, being more light-hearted:

  1. I bring a sense of fun and adventure to my sons’ lives and show them that life itself is an adventure. Whether it is riding elephants in India, walking through ruins in Carthage, or meeting a quirky character in a local café, life is a blast. We no longer tip-toe around someone else’s moods or hide in our rooms, but rather enjoy our new found freedom post-divorce. Now my sons look around for fun escapades and encounters with interesting people of all ages and cultures. Serendipity is the spice of our lives.
  2. When asking my kids about what I do better after divorce they came up with some answers. I really listen to my sons. When one is caught up in being in a bad marriage and getting through a tumultuous divorce, just surviving is an achievement. One hears their children, drives them to activities, but may not intently listen to them. Schedule family meetings to give the kids an opportunity to be heard and nip any little problems in the bud. Ask for their input whether it is reducing expenses, or what new holiday rituals they would like to start. Taking a walk with a son is a way for him to open up at his own speed without feeling pressured.
  3. My sons say that I am more patient now. I used to feel like a pressure cooker ready to explode when married. Now life meanders along and I am caught up in the flow, not fighting to keep my head above water. Other mothers have mentioned being more relaxed post-divorce which leads to being more patient. If you are ready to lose it due to stress, patience is not going to be high on your list of priorities.
  4. We single moms can be more spontaneous. No planning meals, weekends, or entertaining our spouses’ clients with military precision. We can have impromptu picnics, activities, and guests. If I want to use frequent flier miles and go to a far flung place with my sons, we can (both are over eighteen). During my marriage, plans had to be made around my husband’s schedule and post-divorce, this freedom is liberating.   Please read more divorcedmoms.com/articles/i-am-a-better-mom-now-that-im-single

Dealing with Empty Nest and How to Thrive

An Empty Nest is especially challenging for parents who face yet another loss after divorce. People may be experiencing the different stages of grief with their divorce, and now also mourn what was and may never be again with their child. One goes through anger and eventually moves on to acceptance in the cycle of grief, as time goes by. This is the period to reinvent yourself and discover long last passions. Having a quiet house seemed to be one of the worst things for me. I brought my stereo system out of hibernation and got some tiny new speakers. I joined the vinyl craze in the states and bought some new records. Listening to old favorites with my cats around, makes loneliness a thing of the past and both of my college age sons enjoy listening to these classics when they are home.

There are ways to make this transition a little easier and reduce the loneliness that may come with the empty nest syndrome:

  • Schedule something fun to do immediately after your child leaves for school. I had a facial a few hours after my youngest son left for uni and required this pampering. The kind therapist let me express my sadness as she massaged lovely aromatherapy oils on my skin. The next morning I had a latte with a pal, and a movie with another one later in the day. I met with friends for the first several days of this transition.
  • Get together with other Empty Nesters for support and fun. My friend Patti formed a group with her son’s classmates’ parents and they meet once a month. It used to be for tears, but now it is for laughter and camaraderie.
  • Delay doing big projects until after your child is gone. This is the time to organize your home office or tackle the mess in your garage. Being focused on a large task, decreases time to dwell on one’s new situation.
  • Expand your social or professional groups. I joined a MeetUp.com group and can go out weekly for lattes, lectures or other activities. I joined Toastmasters International to become a more effective speaker.
  • Join some groups and organizations. The Women’s Institute (WI) evolved from traditional activities during WW1, to fencing, DIY classes and teaching other skills now. The WI is having a resurgence of new members with many in their 30’s. There is even a WI goth group in London. I have discovered many new Scandinavian authors from my book club.
  • Go back to school for pleasure classes or to advance your career. I took a computer class after my son left. An acquaintance obtained her teaching degree during her Empty Nest period. She was so busy with these courses that she barely had time to think about her kids that had flown the nest.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and build self-esteem. This is the time to climb up Kilimanjaro or find charity treks around the UK or far flung places. Expand your fitness level as you train for these endeavors or join an exercise class. I started Zumba and Tai Chi during this episode.
  • Consider hosting a foreign exchange student for a few weeks or a school year. You will have a student who needs care and advice in your home. You may end up with a new family member for life as some people have told me. These people enjoyed learning about other cultures and visiting their “kids.”
  • Take a trip to get away and be in a new environment. Visit old friends who may be going through the Empty Nest as well. Go overnight to a nearby spa for some pampering.
  • Volunteer and give something back to others. I love feeling needed with my weekly volunteering at a cat rescue group. The kitties purr with their appreciation. Consider adopting a new pet. If unable to commit, foster a cat or dog short-term.There was a study released in the states that indicated a correlation with getting breast cancer around eighteen months after the last child left home. When I thought about the people I know who had breast cancer, this was the time that they discovered it as well. A woman told me this week that her surgeon said there is a connection between strong sad emotions and the occurrence of some prostate and breast cancer. This research of emotional states increasing the risk for cancer is in its early stages, but I am having as much fun as possible to decrease my chances for it.Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Signs that Your Child is Doing Well Post-divorce

It is easy post-divorce to be in the survival mode and not really notice if there are any red flags regarding your child’s behavior. You both are drifting along finding your footing and discovering new routines. What are some indicators that your child may be thriving or struggling during this period? Here’s a list of healthy behaviors that indicate your child is on the right path post-divorce.

1. Being social. He receives calls from friends and keeps up his activities with them. Is he going out to movies and events? Is she wanting to go on play dates or meet pals at the park? If your child seems more withdrawn and not wanting to hang out with peers, then investigate why. Lack of interest in keeping or making friends can be a sign that something is not right.

2. Expressing opinions on the divorce. It does not matter if they are negative or positive, just that he feels free to express his feelings. He may have the opinion that his parents are acting stupid and that’s okay. When he utters one word answers to you or does not want to have conversations with others, he could be feeling depressed. A healthcare provider can be invaluable in sorting out if this is a medical issue.

3. Maintaining spirituality. Finding or maintaining spirituality in the midst of a dark situation is a good sign that your kid is doing OK with the transition.

4. No signs of cutting or self-mutilation.   Self-mutilation is done when someone is in so much emotional pain that they express this in a physical way. Casually look at your child’s arms to see if there are any scars. Does your child who previously liked to swim now refuse to don a bathing suit? Is your child hiding his body in a way he didn’t before?    www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/20/kids-and-divorce-_n_5549776.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

Custody Evaluation during Divorce

What is the Custody Evaluation Process? The whole process takes several weeks before a custody determination or Parenting Plan is done. The Custody Evaluator interviews the parents and children separately. The Custody Evaluator may request that you bring to your first meeting, a history of your marriage, specifics on children, and if there was infidelity or abuse. She is not a therapist and this is not the time to spill your deep, dark secrets. All of you will undergo extensive personality testing, including the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Index).

Do answer these questions honestly and not how you think the Custody Evaluator would want you to. My friend Jerry’s friend administers this MMPI and he took this test as an experiment. First go around, Jerry answered how he thought his friend would like it and what would make him appear great. Then the second time, Jerry did the MMPI honestly, with how he perceived himself. What a difference between the two. The test administrator told Jerry that he got very low marks on the first test. When he answered exactly how he felt, he aced it and was rated a happy, stable person.

When I took the test the thing that helped me to be seen as a “happy person” is that I did my testing outside in a lovely courtyard. The birds were singing, flowers blooming, so I was in a calm state taking these battery of tests. See if you could take your tests outside of the office with nature around you. Do meditate, watch a comedy, or whatever it takes to get you in a calm, centered state before doing each test. The results of these tests help determine shared time in custody, so do not do them in a panic. You may be asked to say what the Rorschach Inkblot pictures seem like to you. If one conjures up several images, do pick the happier one, the circus over a crime scene. Other tests are to draw a picture with each short paragraph, or tell a story around a picture shown. Again pick the more positive ideas for these tests, no blood-sucking zombies, please. A psychologist advises people to think of a happy scenario for each of these stories and drawings. The dos and don’ts of custody evaluation     Please read more…divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-dos-and-donts-of-custody-evaluation-in-divorce

Tips on Making Transitions Easier for Visitation

       Transitions between parents can be challenging, especially for younger children. They start to feel settled and then it is time to move back again to the other parent’s place. One’s attitude sets the tone for these exchanges. If you cannot manage to be upbeat, then aim for neutral, without any putdowns or snide remarks. Do not emulate some mums at my sons’ preschool who appeared to be on the verge of tears when parting. Very young children are already struggling with separation anxiety, so be especially positive. A neutral drop off place is ideal if it was an acrimonious divorce. A day care or preschool can be a good choice with toddlers and is easier when both parents have car seats. These exchanges are more upsetting when kids see tense, angry parents trying to interact.

     Children do better with set routines such as having consistent bedtimes at both locations. Even better is when mealtimes are in sync too. The routine starts with packing and getting ready for the transfer. This helps with the mindset that he is leaving one place for the other. There may be a special story told or a goodbye song sung while getting ready to leave. The child might draw a picture to give mum or dad upon seeing them. My sons had a ritual of saying goodbye to our cats. Children do not want to feel like visitors, so have them unpack right away. No one cares to live out of a suitcase, so give them their own space. In tight quarters, an empty drawer that only belongs to them is fine.

                Some parents come up with a new welcome back ritual when their children return from visitation. This gives them something to anticipate immediately. It may be that after dad gets the youngsters, they go to Gran’s for supper. My stepmother had pizza and we watched fun shows on the television. I looked forward to this Friday night transition. Mum might have homemade cookies when the kids get back. The children then transition into a fun, anticipated activity or treat. Upon return, other kids just want to chill out and regroup. They may require their space before starting with an activity or interaction. Give them time and do not bombard them with questions. Respect privacy and do not ask about the visitation.

School children told me that one of the most difficult parts of visitation is the transitions. They wanted to see both parents, just not the going back and forth. Transitions are easier if your child is calm. Bach’s Flower Rescue Remedy is a fast acting stress reliever that is perfect to give children before visitation to ease the transition. It comes in drops or pastilles form. I gave a tin of pastilles to my younger son to take with him before visitation. He was responsible enough to take the recommended dose and could discreetly pop one in his mouth as needed. You could also put a few drops in your child’s mouth before leaving. A cup of chamomile tea is relaxing and so is a squirt of lavender facial mist. My son also likes a shoulder or neck message when he is tense.

If transitions are a big problem then consider seeing a divorce coach. She can determine if longer visitation time with each parent is more beneficial or explore other options. She will interview the child and parents to see if a better plan can be made. One possibility is that the child is at one parent’s house for a longer time with the other parent picking up the child for part of a day or evening, in between visitations. Often as children get used to switching houses, they become more accustomed to transitions. The children enjoy their special time with each parent.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

 

10 Ways to Deal with the Empty Nest Syndrome

The Empty Nest Syndrome is especially challenging for single parents who now have a quiet house. When one has recently gone through a divorce or loss of a spouse, it can be traumatic. Expect to mourn for a loss of what was and may never be again. You may go through the anger and eventually moving on to acceptance. This is the time to reinvent yourself and rediscover long lost passions.

1. Start a group up of other Empty Nesters for support and fun.  Tina, a stay-at-home mom, was bereft when her youngest went off to college. This came about when her oldest son was about to get married and possibly move to another city. She called the mothers of her son’s classmates and formed a group that met once a month.  At first it was for tears, but now it is teas and laughter. They claim that getting together is much cheaper than therapy and full of companionship.

2. Wait and do big projects after your kid goes off to school. This is the time to organize and clean out your basement or garage. I bought some bins and shelves and it is easy to find gardening supplies, holiday items plus much more in my garage now.

3.  Expand your social or professional networks. I joined two Meet.Up.com groups and have coffee or go to events every week. The intelligent women are stimulating and now we are discussing quantum physics over lattes. I am a new member of Toastmasters International to make me a more effective speaker. There are many other groups to choose.

4. Challenge yourself and build self-esteem. Join an Outward Bound Expedition in your own back yard or across the globe.  UK charities in particular have fundraisers in far flung places. One charity had a trek up Mt Kilimanjaro and several women raved how that boosted their self-esteem and independence post-divorce. Other charities have had hikes in Vietnam, Costa Rica, and other exotic locales.

5.  Start back to school for pleasure courses (cooking) or to advance your career. I am currently taking a computer course at our community college. One woman went back to school for her teaching degree just as her youngest was leaving for college.  She claimed that she barely had time to think about having an Empty Nest.

6.  Have a foreign exchange student live with you for a few months or even a year. You have someone there who needs your maternal advice and care. You will learn about their culture and may end up with another family member for life.  One mother said after all of the lunches and laundry, this kid will be in her life forever. She has made several trips to Italy and stayed with his family.

7.  Start an exercise program. The boost in endorphins will be an added benefit to your fit body.

8.  Take a trip with a spouse or your pals.  It could be the European river cruise that you’ve dreamed of or a spa weekend with the girls. This is the time to visit your college roommate or other friends.  They may be facing the same challenge as you.

9.  Schedule something fun for immediately after your child leaves.  I had a pampering facial just hours after mine left. The next morning a friend met me for lattes and another friend for a movie later. It is easier if you have something fun to look forward to at least for a few days.

10. Volunteer and give something back to others. This helps you to be less focused on yourself and your own misery. I started volunteering for a cat rescue group right before my son left for college. On Tuesdays I clean, cuddle and feed the kitties and feel so happy and energized afterwards. Another Empty Nester volunteers at the community garden. You could also foster dogs or cats in your home.

Children’s stomach and bowel woes

If your child is having stomach/bowel problems which keep reoccuring for several weeks, it’s time to take the next step. Check her stress level. Could she be bullied at school? Is she having problems with her teacher, homework, classwork or peers?   Check in with her teacher to see what may be happening.
If she got an all clear from her doctor, then insist on a more in depth evaluation, including blood tests for blood sugar, gluten and lactose intolerance. Also have a stool sample analyzed, particularly if your family travels.  A good friend in my nursing school was hospitalized with a nasty GI parasite and she hadn’t left the state, much less the country.
Is your child getting 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables a day?   Is she mainly living on fast foods (particularly teenagers)?  I’m guilty of making meals from frozen, but organic foods without including a salad for roughage.
If she is running to activity to activity, without much downtime? A hectic schedule can contribute to GI woes.

A Child’s favorite travel destinations

 

IMG_1350New Zealand

Here, from the mouth of my youngest son, are his top ten favourite places to travel, written by him.
Germany, the scenery is amazing and the food is excellent.
Vietnam, the people are so kind and welcoming plus the food is out of this world.
New Zealand, two main islands make up this gorgeous country with exceptional views.
Argentina, the culture there is interesting and they have quite friendly cats (Botanical Garden).
Thailand, one of the most friendly countries I have ever been good foot massages too.
Gibralter, the gateway to the Mediteranian: nice city nestled on a mountain side.
Switzerland, best chocolate in the world and world class scenery.
Morocco, best mint tea in the world people are very welcoming to tourists.
Sri Lanka, world class Bhuddist shrines have an abundance of wounderful monks and people.
Any rural place, to get away from it all and star gaze.

🙂 enjoy traveling