Family

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

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

5 Steps Parents Can Take to Improve Their Family’s Financial Health

5 steps

Raising a family is expensive. If you have kids or are expecting your first, that’s not news to you. Some days it feels impossible to afford the bare necessities of food, clothing and a roof over your head. However, as a parent, you also need to think about your family’s overall financial health.  

If you haven’t given serious thought to financial planning, now is the time to start. The sooner you get a handle on your finances and start saving for the future, the more financially secure your family will be. Here’s where to start.

1. Assess Your Income

Does your current income allow you to live comfortably and achieve your financial goals? If not, increasing your income should be at the center of your financial plan. While you can always cut expenses to save money, a higher income is the best long-term solution to financial security. Start thinking about ways you can earn a raise, find a higher-paying position, or pivot your career to increase your income.

2. Examine Your Debt

Most families have some debt (about 80 percent, according to USA Today). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if your debt is preventing you from achieving other financial goals, you’re using credit cards to spend money you don’t have, or you’re struggling to make headway due to high interest rates, you need to take action about your debt.  

List all your debts including outstanding balances, interest rates and minimum monthly payments. Putting it all out in front of you allows you to assess the state of your debt and devise a repayment plan that lets you get ahead. If you find it difficult to keep track of all your accounts, consider debt consolidation. Consolidation combines unsecured debts like student loans, credit cards, and medical bills into a single monthly payment so they’re easier to manage. However, debt consolidation isn’t guaranteed to work in your favor. It’s important to understand the process and how it will affect your debt before choosing to consolidate.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

Everyone needs an emergency fund, but it’s particularly important for parents. An emergency fund enables you to cover minor emergencies without fretting over the bill and remain stable if your job situation changes. Calculate how much money you’d need to cover three months of expenses and set aside funds each paycheck until your emergency fund reaches that number. If you’re a single-income household, aim for six months instead of three.

4. Budget for Childcare

According to Care.com, one in three families spend 20 percent or more of their income on child care. This makes childcare one of the biggest household expenses that parents face and affording it requires careful budgeting. Even when one parent stays home to care for children, there’s a loss of income to account for. Examine your budget to find areas where you can cut expenses and consider flexing your work schedule to reduce the amount of paid childcare needed. Parents can also save money by signing up for a Flexible Spending Account or using the child-care tax credit.

5. Prepare for the Unknown

Life throws a lot of curveballs. When you’re a parent, it’s up to you to be ready for them. Life insurance and a will are two things every parent needs to protect their family from the unexpected.  

Life insurance pays out a death benefit if the policyholder passes away. With a life insurance policy, your family has money to pay for a funeral and stay afloat following a loss of income. However, life insurance alone isn’t enough. You also need a will that names guardians to care for your children if you pass away. Writing a will is complicated, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer.

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

 

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

 

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)

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Divorce Changes Relationships – Both Family and Friends

Divorce brings all sorts of surprises which includes how much it changes relationships. Ones you took for granted may collapse or end up being the foundation of your support. Keep in mind that those close to you are processing their own feelings and may not be able to be an immediate pillar of support. Your parents may genuinely be fond of your spouse and are sorting through their mixed emotions. Family does not have to go into mourning when they realize that their ties are not being severed, but can see your former spouse at holiday get-togethers.

IN-LAWS

The relationship with in-laws will be different. One woman decided to have a business-like one with her former mother-in law which focused only on the children. She contacts this grandmother about their school and sporting events and takes the youngsters over to her house. They are civil, but not warm to each other, which is okay.

MUTUAL FRIENDS

Mutual friends can be trickier and may choose sides. If having an amicable divorce where you plan to stay in touch afterwards, get the word out to others. Their inclination may be to drop one of you, so inform them that both of you can attend the same gatherings. When couples mainly socialize together as a unit, divorce usually puts an end to that. See if it is feasible to have individual friendships post-divorce. The women meet for lattes and the fellows at another time for a sporting event. Unfortunately most of the couples we socialized with, wanted to do so only in a group. That happens and I have made some great new friends post-divorce.

NON-SUPPORTIVE FAMILY MEMBERS

What hurts is when a few relatives or step-ones are firmly in your ex’s camp. Look at family dynamics and history to understand if there is something else to it, such as revenge. One woman who could not have children resented her sister-in-law’s daughter. The aunt had confided that this child should have been hers and was not close to the girl. When her niece later got a divorce, the aunt cut ties and stayed in touch with the ex. Luckily the niece’s sons understood the situation and felt it was the aunt’s loss only. When interviewing people, I heard more similar stories to this case. When a relative pulls away, see if in the long run it really is better. Are you putting a lot of time and energy into a relationship that is more on the toxic side, just because you are both branches on the same family tree?

Please read more:  www.divorcemag.com/blog/friends-after-divorce-how-to-deal-with-changes-to-social-circle

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

Getting Along with In-laws

Your spouse may be under their parents’ control and this becomes more apparent after the wedding. Instead of putting you first- his/her parents may retain their position of being in charge of their life. There are ways to loosen those ties without severing them completely.

1. Get some clear boundaries. Robert Frost was correct when he stated “Good fences make good neighbors.” Set up your fences (boundaries) with your in-laws to make sure that you are all on the same page. They may be used to just popping in whenever they please with family and friends. Let know that your policy is for everyone to call first. If you have a health issue, that can be your excuse. One woman with lupus explained that she required naps and down time and even had a locked gate to keep out unwanted visitors.

2. Do not give your in-laws your house key for emergencies. Instead, give it to a neighbour or friend. Even if you are out of town, that can be an opportunity to snoop. One woman was stark naked when her in-laws walked into her house unannounced. If they have keys, have the locks changed, stating that too many people have access to your house keys.

3. Set up guidelines with your spouse regarding what personal information can be shared with others, whether it is financial or intimate subjects. If in-laws are nosey, be vague or say that is between Jerry and me.

4. In-laws may give unsolicited advice, no matter how loving they are. Have some stock answers ready for this barrage of suggestions. Some are: “I’ll check on that”, “I will get the pediatrician’s input” or “that is interesting.” Some savvy women pre-empted unwanted advice by asking specifically what to do in a situation. Some answers were actually helpful and it cut down on the amount of unwelcomed advice.

divorcedmoms.com/articles/the-dreaded-inlaw

Ways to Start New Holiday Traditions Post-Divorce

IMG_1410Divorce is a time to start anew with holiday traditions. Have a pizza party and ask your children what rituals they enjoy and what would they like to skip. You may be surprised with their responses. We get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season and our kids may just want to chill out next to the Christmas tree. When I was married, I annually threw a big bash for my husband’s colleagues and clients, not realizing what a dent it made in the time I spent with my boys. I tackled holiday rituals as if checking them off a “to-do” list, instead of being totally present in the fun moments with my sons. Now we watch Christmas programs on TV and have quick meals. They ditched making frosted sugar cookies and now decorate a gingerbread house from a kit. This is an example of giving a former tradition a new twist.

How To Build New Holiday Traditions After Divorce:

1. Streamline activities to free up more time for relaxation. Make two types of cookies instead of ten. Some moms go to a “Christmas cookie exchange” where each participant brings a lot of only one type of cookie and everyone goes home with a variety. Keep holiday meals simple, yet elegant. You do not have to cook everyone’s favourite dish, alternate them different years. I cook an already pre-cooked pot roast and do my veggies the night before. Then I actually enjoy Christmas Eve and Day with my small family, and not tethered to the stove.

2. Start new holiday hosting traditions with your family. Alert family members that with your divorce situation, you are unable to host Christmas dinner. Or have it potluck, with you supplying the place, utensils, and hot cider. Perhaps you would be willing to host a family get-together with soup, salad, cookies and board games a few days before or after Christmas. It is hard to say no, but offer suggestions for new Christmas family gatherings.

3. Do free Christmas activities on a tight budget. Go to your city’s tree lighting ceremony or check out Christmas light displays. We go downtown and walk amid the lovely Christmas lights and then get hot chocolate or lattes at a coffee shop which is open late. My sons and I go to a live nativity with a multitude of adorable animals. That church has carollers, cookies, and hot drinks which adds to the festivity.

divorcedmoms.com/articles/how-single-moms-make-christmastime-memorable-family-time

Short cuts during Holidays

IMG_1420The holiday season is sneaking up on us again along with endless to-do-lists and frenzied shopping. How to keep your sanity, good mood and stay ahead of the game? The secret is taking short cuts and doing tasks ahead of time. One may have court dates, mediation or collaborative sessions and feel too drained to join in the festivities. Pick the holiday celebrations that bring you the most joy and do not feel obligated to attend every one.

  • If you are usually the one hosting Christmas dinner or the family gathering, then it is time to have a frank discussion. Let others know in advance that you are no longer up to doing this with your divorce and offer some suggestions. The holiday dinner could rotate every year to a different family member’s house. Having it potluck makes it easier on the hosts.

One divorced mum decided that family holiday meals would be at a nice restaurant so no one was chained to the kitchen or on clean up duty.

  • Bundle tasks together to free up some time for relaxation. I write my Christmas cards and letters while enjoying a holiday movie on the telly with my sons. Have a wine party with pals while you each wrap some of your Christmas presents. You get a chore done while partying. Spend time with a godchild while you bake Christmas cookies.
  • Cheating is okay. Not every dish has to be made from scratch. Good Housekeeping magazine for example, has a meal or single product from a variety of stores which is blind tested and then judged. These tasters rate them on most like homemade or best flavours. Take the winner, dump the packaging, place it on your nice china, and wait for the compliments. I buy pre-cooked meat for some holiday meals and heat it up with my homemade herb marinade. My sons enjoy it. www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/coping-with-divorce-at-christmas/

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/

Balancing Work and Family Life as a Single Parent

It is possible to keep one’s sanity and sense of humor, yet still be a single parent in the workforce. The trick is to be extra organized and do as much as possible when the kids are with the co-parent. It is challenging stepping back into a career when being a stay-at-home mom, or changing to full-time. These tips make life a bit easier.

  1. Work more during visitation. I went to my father’s every other weekend and my nurse mother worked at a hospital during that time. She also picked up extra shifts for the two weeks that I was on vacation with my father and at camp. Another woman worked 8-3 without a formal lunch break. She then went into the office for five hours every Saturday while the kids were at visitation. Since the office was closed, it was peaceful enabling her to get ahead with work. See if you can build flexibility into your job. A dad might work extra on the weekend that he is not with the kids.
  2. Make a huge quantity of lasagne or another dish, and freeze single portions (your work lunches) and family size ones. When you are tired – reheat with a prepared salad. Do a cooking marathon when the kids are at visitation. I buy organic, but yummy prepared meals to give to hungry fellows in a hurry. My sons like Trader Joe’s pot pies and their frozen meat which is quick to cook.
  3. Team up with other single parents to have potlucks or share some tasks. Three moms decided to rotate cooking evening meals, each doing one night a week. One cooks enough for the other two families and packs up the complete meals into containers. They are delivered to those houses nearby and for the next two evenings, she is off the hook for providing dinner. These three have been doing this arrangement for years and treasure those blissful cooking-free nights.
  4. Nurture yourself. If you are frazzled, then you are less able to give your full attention to the kids. Pop in for a pedicure or an occasional facial. Indulge in high end, but low cost organic plant based skin care, such as Boot’s Botanic line. My skin is smooth and I feel heavenly. Sitting on the couch reading a magazine with a cat on my lap is so relaxing. Do what rejuvenates you. Some divorced dads got back into sports and enjoy the camaraderie as well as increasing physical well-being.    Please read more …  divorcedmoms.com/articles/balancing-single-parenting-and-work-10-tips-for-the-overwhelmed

How to Deal with Children’s Anger with Divorce

Divorce is a death of a marriage and former life. Anger is a stage in the grief cycle of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. It is natural for your children to go through these normal stages of grief, and dealing with their anger is an expected by-product of divorce. Even if kids are relieved that their parents are divorcing, there is still the fallout of stress and an upheaval in their lives.

How you deal with your own fury will reflect how the children deal with their anger issues. Are you erupting like a volcano or are you an oasis of calm? You are a role model for the kids, so think how you may be contributing to their angry outbursts. Exhibit the behavior that you wish your kids to emulate.

When I react, it does not work as well as when I pause and then respond. My responses are calmer, targeting the problem, rather than angry demands of my child. Reactions, as opposed to responses, are more apt to inflame an already volatile child, rather than giving guidance. Take a deep breath or count to three to maintain your composure when the kids are pushing your buttons.  Here are a few helpful ways to deal with your child’s anger:

1. Use “I” statements when addressing angry kids. Say “I feel disrespected when…” or “I will be fine doing that for you, when you ask in a calm voice.” You are taking responsibility for your own emotions and not giving kids power by inferring that they have control over you, as in, “You make me feel…” When you have house rules that apply to all, enforcing them is not personal.  A good standard rule is, “In this house we treat others with respect and use quiet voices.”

– See more at: goodmenproject.com/families/deal-childrens-anger-divorce-hesaid/#sthash.1Xh1gcE5.dpuf
divorcedmoms.com/articles/how-to-deal-with-your-childrens-anger-during-divorce

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

109 Strong Mother Quotes with Images [2019]

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

Getting throught the Crisis of Divorce and Parent’s Death

When one is newly divorced, there is the dilemma of where to go on vacation. Do you repeat family trips that you did while still married, or start different types of adventures with the kids? Is it sad or reassuring to follow vacation rituals from pre-divorce?

A little over a year after my divorce, my healthy mother had a quick series of vascular events and ended up in Hospice. My two sons and I already had a week cruise to Alaska scheduled and Hospice insisted that we go on it, since we were on the verge of breakdowns. This time was so special and we bonded over having normal conversations again that did not involve death. The incredible scenery and other passengers were just the tonic we needed at this point.

Before she had her medical crisis, my mother had demanded that we go on a Christmas/New Year’s cruise to Australia and New Zealand (I am an only child). While on board the ship in Alaska, it seemed like she was whispering in my ear to book the holiday trip for my two sons and me. Holland America kept saying that there was availability, but the pricing was not correct. They had to give the cruise to us at the price listed on their computer, which was three for the price of one passenger! The day this happened turned out to be the very day my mother passed away. That was her parting gift to us. My travel agent later said that this nominal cost was unbelievable.

What a special adventure this turned out to be and a more pleasant way of spending our first Christmas without her company. We flew into Auckland, NZ, checked into our ship, and threw our luggage into our cabin. Several people told us before we left, that a magical island caught in the fifties, was a short ferry ride from Auckland. Indeed Waiheke was a fantasy of laid back people in a breath taking environment. The coffee shop, beach, and plethora of flowers just banished any blues. This was our second Christmas since my divorce and we decided to start new rituals.   http://divorcedmoms.com/articles/how-did-i-handle-divorce-and-the-death-of-my-mother-i-went-on-a-dream-vacation

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

Losing Your Family Members with Divorce

One would think family members would be supportive during divorce, but that is not always the case. There are a myriad of reasons for this with one being not wanting to take sides. My mother would often hang up on me when I called during my divorce. She had a summer place, so this necessitated having a girlfriend drive over to her house and tape a note to her door. My husband and I jointly owned a house with her, so financial discussions were imperative during these proceedings. She wanted to pretend this event was not happening.  Fortunately she gave unconditional love and support to her grandsons. Be forewarned that this could happen to you.

Some relatives may have anger towards you. While they are unsupportive, it does not mean that they are on your spouse’s side. It could be that your divorce elicits painful memories of theirs and they do not want to relive them. Do you have a relative who is just a bitter, mean person? Your divorce is another thing to hold against you. Remember that this nonsupport and unkindness is their issue. It is something that they are dealing with, even though it can be hurtful for you. In one case there was paternal abuse and the sons had very limited visitation. The grandfather told a crying grandson over the phone, that they were severing ties unless those boys resumed a relationship with their dad.

How do you deal with unsupportive relatives? One solution is to limit visits to an hour or so once a month, never on a holiday. You might consider meeting in a public place for these. If something rude is said, leave immediately. Decide what you will and will not tolerate and go from there.   It may be best to limit contact to holiday cards in more extreme cases.

I informed my step-mother that in abuse situations it was not therapeutic for children to have close family members stay in contact with the abusive parent. My sons even told her specific details. I acknowledged that this was her choice either way, however if she stayed in contact with my ex, we would only be able to share superficial aspects of our lives, nothing personal. When she continued to mention that their father was feeling hurt, then we had to pull away and only exchange cards. One woman’s step-sister resented her intrusion into the family from day one. After this woman’s divorce, the toxic step-sister made a big point of staying in touch with that ex online. Reducing or eliminating contact may be the only option for protecting you and your children.

In a few divorces, family members want to stay in contact, but have obstacles. After a man divorced his wife, she fell apart and her health condition worsened, requiring intermittent hospital stays. Her pre-teen daughter was at the stage where they start distancing themselves from their parents. Anne became enamoured with her new glamorous step-mother. This narcissistic woman swept Anne away   as if she were a trophy prize. Meanwhile Anne’s maternal grandparents tried desperately to maintain a relationship with her, but were thwarted by the step-mother and father. I urged them to get a solicitor to help sort out this situation and apparently they chose not to. They gave up when their daughter died and moved far away. On a happier note, nieces by marriage told their aunt that she was to “get custody” of them in her divorce. That was a sweet way of letting Dana know that they were continuing their relationship with her post-divorce.

You may have a close, loving relationship with your in-laws. In divorce this can change if they feel it is disloyal to their offspring to remain in contact with you. Or the relationship may change to a more casual one. You can certainly contact your in-laws and let them know you would be happy to bring their grandchildren around from time to time. If your best buddy is your former wife’s brother, then there will be a sense of loss if you are dropped. Acknowledge your grief. In the vast majority of times, family sticks by the divorcing person. If this is not your case, be reassured that you are not alone and it is not your fault.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

Children of Divorce at Christmas and Holiday Visitation

IMG_2946It is a frenetic time with all we have to do at Christmas. We have our own stress level to deal with and children can get a bit lost in all of this. They may be more quiet or acting out for your attention, but there are ways for all of us to thrive during this busy time. If your kids are bouncing off the walls, then do a physical activity together, possibly taking a walk around the neighborhood.

The key to this is distraction. Find some fun or relaxing distractions for you to partake in during the holidays. It may be reading a best-seller or being curled up with some special British magazines. The important idea is to have something concrete to do.

Then let your children know what this specific distraction is. Whether it is reading with your cat nearby or going out for lattes with a friend at the only coffee shop open on Christmas.  If your children know you are doing a certain activity, then they can be more relaxed and enjoy their time with the other parent.  Mine were more reluctant to leave me until I showed them my pile of magazines.  My cat just had emergency surgery early in the morning on  Christmas Eve, so I said we’d hang out together in front of the tree.

It also helps if you have a special holiday ritual to do when they return. The kids have something to look forward to do with you and be a part of your Christmas celebration, even if late in the evening.

If you take care and nurture yourself, then your tank won’t be so empty that you can’t give to others. If friends ask what you’d like for Christmas, then hint that pampering spa products would be appreciated.

Take deep breathes and bring out your bakery made quiche and desserts.  You may even enjoy a bit of pampering or me time for  when your kids are on visitation.

10 Tips for Getting Through Thanksgiving When Alone

Thanksgiving can be a challenging time especially when going through a divorce or newly widowed.  You may be undecided whether to crawl under your covers or do something more social. If you are experiencing  grief, it compounds the situation. If your children are spending the holiday with your ex, then it can be an extra sad time.  Thanksgiving can be easier if you stay busy.

1. See if there is a singles’ group in your town or church who may be getting together on this day. My local MeetUp. com group is meeting at a fun restaurant for a Thanksgiving Day lunch. This is especially nice when you don’t have the cash or time to travel across the country to be with your family.

2. My sons and I started our new tradition of going to a movie before our feast at home during my divorce. We watch the Macy’s Day Parade, then have a latte near the cinema and see a much anticipated movie. Choose new rituals for this day.  It may be breakfast out and then TV and a hike. New traditions may include  friends.  See what fits for you.

3. Many people volunteer on this day and say they get so much more back than  they give. Classic volunteering is cooking or serving at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. There are other options.  Remember animals still need to be fed, loved and have their cages cleaned at an animal shelter, etc.

4. Go to a restaurant or an upscale grocery store and eat their ready made food at their community table on Thanksgiving. My former  boss goes to Whole Foods and eats turkey while enjoying talking to the others.

5. Shake up your day by having a breakfast feast at a restaurant and  then veg out in front of the  TV. You can do your normal rituals, perhaps in a different order.

6. Have your traditional Thanksgiving Feast, but in a different environment.  If you live in a more tropical area, consider a picnic.

7. Take a trip somewhere, possibly out of the country. If you are on a group tour, there will be camaraderie and a special holiday menu. Or maybe go to a culture that does not celebrate this holiday and do something totally different. This may be the time for your Spa break. I’ve had seafood near the ocean on a Thanksgiving beach vacation.

8. Have an adventure.  Book a trip with Outward Bound or some other outdoor company. Being in nature will recharge your batteries, while distracting you with physical challenges.

9. Remember it is just one day. Get a jump start on writing your Christmas cards or planning your Christmas list.

10. Go through a pile of magazines or save a best-seller book for this day.  If you are staying home, pick up a delectable treat the day before.  Recently read that Thanksgiving as we know it, will be gone in about 5 years, since it is another shopping day already.

 

 

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.

Family Dynamics Changing Post-divorce

Some family relationships may take a nose dive post-divorce and you may go through the grieving process for what is lost and will never be again. Take Naomi for example, she had written her step-mother regularly and sent cards for every occasion. She felt that they had a good long distance relationship. Her sons had told their step-grandmother about some abuse that they had suffered during the marriage and subsequent therapy post-divorce. The step-grandmother kept in contact with the ex, despite the boys’ wishes. Naomi wrote her step-mother saying that she and the boys would be in town for a short visit and gave two possible dates to get together. Imagine her shock when her step-sister wrote a scathing note back stating that her mother did not want to see them because the ex had a different story regarding his sons. The step-sister and Naomi only exchanged Christmas cards, so she was surprised at the intensity of the venom. The step-sister also was a friend of the ex on Facebook, although she had not seen him in over 15 years.

Sometimes you just have to let people go and realize that this is in your own and children’s best interest. If someone has an idea so entrenched in their brain, it may be better just not to respond. Or keep them at a distance and only exchange holiday cards, without a personal message.

Another issue in a situation like this, is how to gently explain something to your children. Part of the vitriol of that letter was specifically directed at her younger son. She told both boys that Grandma was unable to meet up with them for that visit. Naomi is going to show her other son (in his early 20s) that letter a bit later. You don’t want to harbor family secrets, but rather to discuss family issues in a therapeutic way. We can’t change toxic family members’ behavior, only our response (or lack of) to it. Talk this over with friends and if it still bothers you, possibly to a therapist or clergy.