She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

 

One of the worst memories I have about my divorce was the day my children found a family photo that had black tape over my face.  It was found in an album at my ex’s mom’s house. What was even more devastating is that my children didn’t have the heart to tell me themselves.

Days later I received a phone call from my mom telling me that my kids told her what they had seen, as they held back tears to explain to her that it was a family member who had done it.  Every emotion imaginable hit me all at the same time as I tried to swallow the rage.

My first thought was how do I begin to explain the unexplainable to my children.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what message was this sending them?

That their mother was someone that was no longer part of this family?

That divorcing their father meant I no longer existed in their world?

Or was it that I no longer mattered because of my choices?

I wasn’t ready to have a conversation about something that I was still trying to process.

I had no idea why this family member lashed out at me in this way.  I was raised to be respectful and kind to others and also to mind my own business.  I could never imagine doing that to anyone.

Why did he do it?

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

Was it because I am an Italian woman who chose to stand in her truth? You have to understand the Italian culture to make sense of this insanity.  In the Italian culture, you do not leave your marriage, no matter what the situation is. At least this is what I was shown.

I thought about my great grandmother who lived in Italy, and how much pain she must have carried in her soul.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out my great grandfather had a whole other family we knew nothing about.  I wondered what that betrayal did to her.

What wounds had she been made to carry?

My heart ached for her silence. How many other women before her stayed silent in marriages that no longer served them?

Was it my strength in leaving my marriage that offended this family member? Was it the fact that I was no longer going to be controlled by anyone or anything? Or was it just another man willing to throw a woman out like garbage because she was no longer submissive to her husband?

My truth and my courage sent an aftershock that rattled everybody.

Once the rage wore off I was left with a deep sense of sadness.  I understood why my great grandmother stayed. What was she going to do, leave my great grandfather and raise the children on her own? He financially supported the family.

Back then there were no options for mothers that wanted out of their unfulfilling marriages. Did men take advantage of this position of power because they knew women had no way out? I wondered what it would have looked like if she left him.

I realized that my divorce was so much bigger than just wanting out of a marriage.  I was breaking cultural norms that had never been done before. It was my truth that offended people. “How dare she break her family apart. What kind of mother is she?

She left a good man that gave her everything she could have ever wanted.  She doesn’t deserve to be part of this family”… this was the message I received loud and clear from the black tape over my face, and this is what landed on my children’s eyes.

I couldn’t make them unsee what they had seen, and I also didn’t want them to have hatred in their hearts for the ignorant behavior that was displayed upon them. I wasn’t going to let this person do what so many others before him had done…keep women from standing in their power by crippling their spirit.

No, I choose to rise instead.  Not only for myself but for the many women before me that didn’t have the power to do it.  I chose to rise for my children because I wasn’t going to show them that I needed to defend myself or prove myself worthy by giving this any more of my energy.  I chose to show them that the power of forgiveness is stronger than any stones thrown at me. That’s the legacy they will remember, a mom that stands in love can’t ever be erased.

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new step-parent

Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

new step-parent

 

Blended families generally consist of a couple and their children from all relationships, and they’re becoming more common every year. According to the 2009 census, upwards of 16% of children live in a blended family, and upwards of 1,300 new blended families form every single day.

Going from being a single parent to being a part of a blended family can be challenging. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make that transition easier to navigate.

8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

1. Remember That It’s a Big Change

Becoming a blended family is a major change for everyone involved. It also ends up being more challenging for children than it is for adults, especially young ones who don’t have any context to help them understand what’s going on. Be patient with everyone and prepare for conflicts. Know how to defuse stressful situations before they get out of hand.

2. Talk About Parenting Styles Before You Move In

Discuss your parenting styles with your significant other before you cross that final bridge and bring everyone together. Figure out where you agree, where you differ and where you need to compromise, as well as who is responsible for things like doling out corrective action. Have that conversation as early as possible so you have plenty of time to iron out all the details.

3. Adapt As Necessary to Manage Age Differences

Different-age children will respond to becoming a blended family in various ways. Teenagers might rebel dramatically, while younger children might have tantrums or act out because they don’t understand what’s happening. All they know is that things are changing. You’ll need to be adaptable in response to this. Deal with issues related to age differences as they come up, and remember to be patient and communicate with both the children and your partner.

4. Be Open About Mental Health

People often consider mental health a taboo topic, but if you’re making your way toward becoming a blended family, you need to keep everyone’s mental wellness in mind. Start the conversation, especially with those who are old enough to use social media.

These sites, and the internet as a whole, are an integral part of our lives, but they can also be detrimental to our mental health. This factor is especially true if other things are happening in your life that could have adverse effects.

5. Don’t Make Your Children Choose

Ultimatums are your worst enemy when it comes to creating a successful blended family. Don’t make your kids choose, whether that means deciding between parents or where they want to live. If you do reach a point where decisions are necessary, have a conversation with your partner first to ensure you’re on the same page with parenting your collective children.

6. Be Ready to Co-Parent

When it comes to blended families, co-parenting doesn’t just mean the relationship between you and your partner. It means being ready to deal respectfully with any living ex-partner that may have had a parenting role in your children’s lives. Co-parenting is a part of any parent/step-parent relationship, regardless of the situation. Don’t make it a battle. Doing this will make your life harder, and it isn’t fair to any kids involved either.

7. Make It About Respect

When you’re bringing together multiple families, not everyone is going to like one another. Some people will butt heads, that’s part of life. While you can’t make everyone like each other, it should always be about respect. You can respect someone you don’t like and building a blended family on this principle is the best choice for everyone. Lead by example and practice this principle with others in every situation you encounter.

8. Take Care of Yourself Too

Caring for your kids and your partner’s kids are challenging. It’s easy to forget one of the most important rules, that you need to take care of yourself too. Don’t let putting everyone else first prevent you from practicing self-care.

Work with your partner so you can take a break, even if it’s something as simple as an uninterrupted bath or a solo trip to the grocery store. Caring for your mind and body allows you to be a better parent and partner, which is why it’s essential to avoid leaving your wellbeing on the back burner.

Be Patient With Each Other and Yourself

Coming together as a blended family is probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you will ever do. It’s a significant change that may be difficult for members of your growing family to adapt to, but it is becoming more common with each passing year.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to become part of a blended family, be patient with yourself and your new relatives.

The post Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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14 Movies You Should Binge-Watch On Valentine’s Day

14 Movies You Should Binge-Watch On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day.

Some of you may be excited about it, some of you are prepared for couples to be showing off their love, hearts, and roses all around you, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be around that if you don’t want to. You can just stay home and watch some movies, eat some chocolate, eat some takeout – whatever you like – and learn how to celebrate this holiday on your own.

The lesson of the day: You don’t have to be in a relationship to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

 

Here are 14 movies you definitely should watch on Valentine’s Day:

1. The Notebook

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We’ve all seen this one… And cried our hearts out! If you haven’t seen this movie, it is a great romantic comedy to get you through V-Day. Plus, Ryan Gosling is a beautiful, beautiful man, and spending two hours with that face will do you no harm, only good. 😉 Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star in this classic tale of two love birds and the journey of their lives.

2. Sleepless in Seattle

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One of the best Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies ever! Nothing is more romantic and pure than seeing these two on-screen together. This is a MUST-SEE for those who are interested in celebrating Valentine’s Day the right way! Warning: You will cry a lot.

3. An Affair To Remember

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Can you see the correlation between Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair To Remember? Well, if you’ve watched Sleepless in Seattle you’ll know that it makes a lot of references and remarks to An Affair To Remember, another love story that you’ll find yourself loving every minute of as you drink your wine and remember that you are what’s important now, and love is waiting for you somewhere.

4. Love Stinks

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French Stewart delivers a wonderful performance battling this demon-like hysteria of a woman, Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson). This movie basically focuses on their relationship and builds up to Valentine’s Day. With its humorous class and relatable content, you’ll get a kick out of this couple that will probably make you feel a lot better about your relationship status, and feel really bad for French Stewart’s character instead.

5. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

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A wonderful movie that needs to be watched by everyone. Jim Carrey shows his true colors in this one, and Kate Winslet will win over your heart with her unique, eccentric vibe. The movie will make you appreciate things you never thought to appreciate before, and also, the soundtrack isn’t that bad either.

6. When Harry Met Sally

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You knew this one was coming, mainly because it’s probably one of those movies you’ve seen a dozen times, not even anywhere near Valentine’s Day. And that’s fine because this film is appropriate for all occasions. I fell in love with Billy Crystal the first time I watched this movie and loved Meg Ryan even more. I definitely recommend it.

7. Garden State

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Garden State is a unique indie film, that most WILL like. Starring Natalie Portman and Zach Braff, it does have a way of pulling you in and not letting you go until the credits roll. Mainly because you just want to know where this interesting story is headed. Right from the start their chemistry is perfect, compelling, and before you know it you’re popping some popcorn and gazing into the tv in a dream-like state, eventually inspired and full of so many questions and desires.

8. You’ve Got Mail

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Another wonderful classic by Nora Ephron. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks star in this classic piece as two New Yorkers who are “at war” and don’t know that they are actually pen pals on the internet. AOL and their true identities are the only things between them. Watch this movie if you want to laugh, cry tears of joy, and reminisce about your old AOL account.

9. Lost in Translation

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When Bill Murray’s in it, there’s a good chance it’s gonna be a good movie. The same goes with Scarlett Johansson. Let’s just say, this movie will make you want to go to Japan and live out a week of the unknown with Bill Murray, oh excuse me, I mean, Bob Harris.

In a nutshell, this movie will leave you breathless.

10. Splash

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By now, you’ve realized that I have a huge thing for Tom Hanks, and that thing will never die. This is a classic movie from the eighties starring Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, and of course, the magnificent Tom Hanks. It’s about a man who was once saved from drowning by a mermaid, who ends up falling in love with her 20 years later. It’s a really good flick to get your mind off things!

11. Return to Me

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Now this movie will bring on some serious emotions. Relationships can be beautiful, and it’s no easy task to let go of someone you love, whether it be through choice or destiny. Return to Me is a very good movie, in my opinion. My mom told me about it a few years ago, and man, am I glad I watched it.

12. The One I Love

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Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss star in this intense psychological thriller about relationships and what kind of partner people really want instead. It’s a great movie, and yes, I mentioned “psychological thriller”, but there’s no blood, guts, scary guns, it’s just got some twisty-turny plot twists that will BLOW YOU AWAY! This movie will make you think long and hard about what kind of person you’d want to build a relationship with, instead of just settling for. It’s a must-see for those who are in the mood for gasping.

13. Just Married

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It’s still hard to believe that Brittany Murphy is no longer with us, but I enjoy keeping her memory alive by watching this movie, as well as King of the Hill, but that’s a topic for another day. Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy play a couple who are just trying to enjoy their honeymoon in Italy while getting more than they bargained for in this hilarious, romantic comedy. It’s full of non-stop laughs and cute moments that will fill you with excitement, hope, and certainly entertain you.

14. It’s Complicated

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Meryl Streep is so adorable in this movie, and so is Steve Martin, and I just can’t help myself when it comes to Alec Baldwin. He’s funny to me. This film has a very appealing cast, it’s full of big laughs and a lot of relatable issues we all have dealt with or may eventually deal with in the future, either way, this is a classic, and if you’re a Meryl Streep fan, do yourself a favor and give this movie a try!

Remember that you don’t have to celebrate this day alone; if you want to, if you can, you can celebrate with your family or friends. If you prefer alone time, you will have a blast, going through this list! Hope all is well!

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gatekeeper mom

4 Reasons To Avoid Being a Gatekeeper Mom Trap During Divorce

gatekeeper mom

 

Do you find yourself having difficulty letting go and relaxing about what your children do while they are with their other parent? Focusing too much on your children’s time or activities at your ex’s house can potentially damage your relationship with them and undermine their connection with both parents. When a parent communicates anxiety and becomes too vigilant about custody exchanges (or parenting time) they may be taking on the role of a gatekeeper.

What is a gatekeeper mom?

According to child custody expert Robert Beilin, P.h.D., a gatekeeper is a term  often used in a negative way to describe how parents (usually a mother) attempts to control their children’s time with the other parent. Since traditionally mothers tend to be gatekeepers, this article will focus on mothers but the term could apply to fathers as well.

According to author Kerri Kettle, the term “gatekeeper” is generally brought up in child custody cases. Kettle, an attorney, advises mothers to beware of being a gatekeeper and to avoid adversarial interactions with their ex. After all, it could lead to additional legal costs and have a negative impact on children. She writes, “If you think you might be acting a little like a gatekeeper, try saying “yes” more often than saying “no” for a while. Start with something small, like giving up a few hours of your custodial time for a special occasion or simply not asking questions about what happened at their dad’s house.” She also advises parents that they will save legal fees by being a cooperative co-parent.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to see how a parent could slip into the gatekeeper role. After my divorce, I had trouble adjusting to our co-parenting schedule and I found myself overly concerned about what my children did when they were with their father and the amount of time they spent with him. It took several years for me to realize that this was my way of trying to gain control over the situation. While I never did anything consciously to sabotage my children’s relationship with their dad, my questions, and concerns about their activities with him didn’t demonstrate confidence in our parenting plan.

Further, children have a way of sensing tension and worry and so a mother’s fear or concerns about time spent away from her may be a red flag that heightens their anxiety. Without awareness, a parent could be bringing undue stress on your children without intending to. My research shows that the two variables that had the most negative impact on children of divorce into adulthood were limiting their access to both parents and experiencing high conflict between their parents post-divorce.

A crucial aspect of healing after divorce is realizing that you can’t control what goes on with your ex and so need to respect the decisions that he makes regarding his time with your children.  You can’t change him and are wise to let go of unrealistic expectations. For instance, you might not approve of him taking your eight-year-old to a movie rated PG 13 – but in the end, it’s not going to make or break their emotional development. So it wouldn’t hurt to simply let it slide sometimes.

On the other hand, if you have legitimate concerns about activities that your kids participate in with their father, it’s a good idea to send him a friendly, business-like e-mail expressing your concerns. Divorce expert Rosalind Seddacca CCT writes, “If you’re intent on creating a child-centered divorce that strives for harmony between you and your ex, you need to initiate the conversation and model win-win solutions. If your ex doesn’t want to cooperate, that’s when your patience will certainly be tested. Look for opportunities to clarify why working together as co-parents as often as possible will create far better outcomes for your children.”

Eileen Coen, an attorney, and trained mediator states that one reason mothers tend to be gatekeepers is that trust is often lost in a marriage. Other reasons cited by Coen are economic and a lack of confidence in their ex’s parenting skills. However, she cautions us that on-going conflict between parents is the primary reason why mothers are gatekeepers – making it virtually impossible to have adequate, healthy parenting time with their children.

Studies show that kids benefit from access to both parents. There is evidence that cooperative co-parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents – which has a beneficial impact on children into adulthood. Scheduling appropriate parenting time for both parent’s post-divorce and keeping lines of communication positive can be a challenge but it’s paramount to building resiliency in your children. When a parent takes on the role of gatekeeper, they communicate discomfort and anxiety to their children and diminish their sense of belongingness with both parents.

Joan Kelly, a renowned researcher who has conducted decades-long studies on divorce, found that the more involved fathers are post-split, the better off the outcomes for children. Children benefit from strong relationships with both parents post-divorce. According to Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters, the child’s relationship with their father is often the one that changes the most after marital dissolution. Sadly, Dr. Nielsen notes that only 15% of fathers and daughters enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.

There are many compelling reasons why mothers are wise to encourage their children to have strong bonds with their father post-divorce. Studies show that these reasons include: Better grades and social skills, healthy emotional development, higher self-esteem, and fewer trust issues. Lowered self-esteem and trust wounds are especially a concern for girls who may be more vulnerable to the breakup of the family home because they are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers. Your kids may also have better access to extended family members and therefore intergenerational support if they spend close to equal time with both parents.

Here are 4 Reasons to avoid the gatekeeper trap:

1. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about their relationships with both of you.

2. You will build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively parent your children.

3. There’s a possibility you’ll have the added benefit of more leisure time – when you can relax and worry less about your children’s well-being.

4. You’ll create a new story for your life built on reclaiming your personal power rather than letting your divorce define who you are or the choices you make.

Focusing your energy on what’s going on in your home and encouraging your children to have a healthy connection with their father will pay off in the long run. Another important reason to avoid being a gatekeeper is to respect your child’s and ex-spouse’s boundaries. When your children are with your ex, honor their time together and try not to plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.). Since parental conflict is a factor that contributes greatly to negative outcomes for children after divorce, keeping disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping your child become resilient. You owe it to yourself and your children to avoid playing the role of a gatekeeper.

More From Terry:

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter,  Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com

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christmas gift battle

3 Ways to Win the Christmas Gift Giving Battle With Your Ex

christmas gift battle

 

My ex always tries to one-up me when it comes to gift giving. One year, he asked me to let everyone on my side of the family know that my son was not allowed to accept video games as a Christmas gift. He then explained that my son was grounded and unable to play video games until he began to mind his manners at home.

His Christmas wish list was mostly comprised of video games, but we scrambled to find him toys and books that he might like instead in order to respect his father’s wishes.

As I had done in previous years, I tried to coordinate shopping efforts to avoid duplicate presents. Up until Christmas Eve, my ex still claimed that he had not gone Christmas shopping. Later, I found out that he had lied and purchased the video games from the original Christmas wish list by my son.

Does this sound familiar? While I was baffled by his deception, it did not overshadow the wonderful memories we created that Christmas. So, how can you win the Christmas gift giving battle with your ex?

3 Ways to Win the Christmas Gift Giving Battle With Your Ex

1. Keep the spirit of the holiday season.

“Your children need your presence more than your presents” (Jesse Jackson). Gift giving is an essential part of the holidays, but not the most important part. Figure out what makes this holiday special to you. If you were raised in a traditional Christian home, you may have been taught to observe Christmas as the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and participate in religious ceremonies. If you are not religious, you may simply dedicate Christmas day to celebrating love, kindness and togetherness amongst friends and family.

Either way, Christmas is a day to create loving memories with your children. Keep the spirit of joy. Do not let anger and resentment about perceived wrongdoing by your ex keep you from enjoying what is most important.

2. Master the art of unique gift giving.

It is not the gift that counts, but the thought behind it. Buying the latest video game is too easy. Think outside the box and locate unexpected gifts by actively listening to your children. Did they marvel at something as simple as a cool pair of house slippers you spotted one day while shopping in Target?

Make them feel special by putting together a gift set with the slippers, a matching robe, nighttime snacks and a pack of hot chocolate for a thoughtful Christmas Eve present. They will know you were listening and that you care enough to put some actual effort into your gift giving. Or, go for individual touches like preparing a Christmas stocking full of age appropriate trinkets you know they’ll appreciate (such as Angry Birds plush toys for young ones, or Apple iTunes gift cards for your older children).

3. Remember that it is not about you.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). What matters the most is that your children are happy. Focus on making their happiness the priority. Think back to your fondest memories of Christmas. It is impossible to remember every gift you received, but you probably remember the experiences you shared with those around you.

Keep that in mind as you strive to do the best you can for your children, no matter how much money you spend or how elaborate the gifts. Mark this as a time in which petty annoyances by your ex become less consequential and start to establish a pattern of positive thinking that will not only win you the battle but may even win you the war.

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Too Young to Understand Divorce

Preschoolers and Divorce: Are They Too Young to Understand Divorce?

Too Young to Understand Divorce

 

About 42 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce and in many cases young children are involved. Divorce is a stressful process and a time of change for all members of the family. Everything that once felt familiar and safe now feels unsafe and uncertain.

For adults, it means letting go of the dream to grow old together. It involves moving, splitting all assets and liabilities, adjusting to a new financial situation, getting used to being single again, changes in your social life, and dealing with all the emotions that accompany all these changes.

Sometimes, as a parent, you need so much energy to cope with the changes at hand, both emotional and material, that you may forget (or not know how) to explain to your children what is going to change for them and how this might make them feel. As a newly divorced parent, you may simply not be able to foresee what is going to change for your child (and yourself) yet.

Many parents have questions about how to approach their child(ren) regarding divorce-related issues. Sometimes parents don’t know how to talk to their young child(ren) about this sensitive topic. Sometimes parents have the belief that their child will not understand if they try to explain what is going on.

But are preschool children too young to understand about divorce?

The answer is NO. Even preschool children can understand more than you think when you talk to them in developmentally appropriate language. Young children can have intense feelings, but they don’t yet possess the words or the mental capacity to express how they feel. Even if children don’t talk yet, they feel something is going on and ‘speak’ through changes in their behavior.

Some children may express their distress and confusion by showing aggressive or noncompliant behavior. Other children may temporarily regress to an earlier stage in their development where they felt safe and sheltered. Parents and caregivers may notice more clinging or ‘baby-like’ behavior, bedwetting or soiling their pants (when a child was previously potty trained). Regressive behavior is a coping mechanism to deal with feeling unsafe or insecure.

Often adults don’t understand or misinterpret the behavior of a child who is going through the turmoil of a divorce. It is important, while parents are going through a divorce, to be aware of the needs of the children.

If parents fail to give children an explanation they can understand, children may fill in the ‘blanks’ by themselves. Young children often think it is their fault (because they were behaving badly) that their parents are separated.

Here are some tips to help talk to your preschooler about divorce:

  • It is important to let children know what is going to happen (For example: “Daddy is moving to another house but you will still see him”).
  • Even if you don’t have a clear idea about the parenting plan yet, the child needs to be reassured that the other parent is not leaving him or her.
  • Reassure your child that the divorce is not his or her fault.
  • Explain that separation is your choice. You and the other parent didn’t get along, and both parents think this is better for all of you.
  • Young children don’t need to know details about the reason for divorce.
  • They do need to know that, even if parents don’t live together, they never stop being Mommy and Daddy. They keep caring for and loving him or her.
  • Don’t punish children for regressive behavior and give them extra attention and reassurance.

For more information, check out Nina Has Two Houses. This illustrated children’s book helps young children and their parents, who are going through a divorce, adjust to the new situation. The book can help explain to the child what he or she may be going through. It can open up the topic of divorce while it gives parents the necessary tools to talk with their children about the situation and accompanying emotions. Many helpful hints for parents and caregivers are included in the book to help parents deal with important co-parenting issues.

Children’s book Nina Has Two Houses is available on Amazon.com in English and Spanish (Nina Tiene Dos Hogares). Like the book on Facebook and find helpful tips for parents on www.facebook.com/NinaHasTwoHouses

Follow Danielle Jacobs, LMHC on Twitter @75748135 for tips on divorce, parenting, and relationships.

The post Preschoolers and Divorce: Are They Too Young to Understand Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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toxic people

Want To Feel Better? Then Stop Hanging Around Toxic People

toxic people

 

When you’re working to get your confidence back and build boundaries after divorce, there is one “hiding in plain sight” barrier that will keep you from reaching your goals.

And that’s surrounding yourself with toxic people.

You know *exactly* who these toxic people are…

  • The pushy one with unsolicited advice that makes you doubt your decisions
  • The catty one with snide comments and back-handed compliments
  • The one who blames you and makes herself the victim when you call her out on her BS.

Sound like anyone you know? 

Is this a sister? Your mother? Your adult daughter? That “friend” who says she’s “only trying to help you?”

Literally every woman deals with these jerks on the daily. And his/her comments are so hurtful because they know which button of yours to push. They’ve known you for a long-ass time, and know your sore spots, triggers, and vulnerabilities.

That’s why one of their comments can leave you devastated for days.

The secret about toxic people in your life…

100% of that criticism has nothing to do with you. She is projecting her own insecurities onto you she’s not taking responsibility for her own issues.

Remember the time your sister said, “that dress looks a little snug on you, don’t you think?” although she knew you were counting calories and going to yoga three times a week?

She’s guaranteed stepped on the scale that morning and was 12 pounds heavier after that cruise.

Remember that time you got that promotion at work and instead of congratulating you, your mother said, “Oh, so I guess that means you’ll be spending even less time with your kids.”

Like, WTF?!

She guaranteed is feeling resentful that she stepped down from her job to stay full-time with her children and didn’t go back into the workplace.

What to do About Toxic People

So, what do you want to do about her? 

Continue to let them walk all over you, saying “that’s just her.” This option is risky because you put yourself at risk of continued frustration and hurt feelings.

Stand up for yourself. This doesn’t have to look like a Jerry Springer fight. But it takes courage.

“Hey (insert person’s name), it really hurts my feelings when you do/say (insert harmful action here). I would ask that you keep those comments to yourself.

“Hey (insert person’s name). I notice that you’re always commenting or giving me unsolicited advice on my divorce/looks/weight/recovery/insert whatever they’re always commenting on. I would ask that you don’t do that anymore, at least until I specifically ask for your advice.”

So, a quick heads-up when you stand up for yourself. If the person has any amount of emotional intelligence, they may take a step back and say, “Oh, wow.. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” or something along the lines of that. 

Or…they may get defensive and turn it on you. They may say, “I’m only trying to help you. If you don’t want my honest opinion, then fine.” And then they might stomp away or hang up the phone or stonewall you or some other 5-year-old-at-the-playground nonsense.

If that reaction occurs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG that maybe this relationship is unhealthy. This ain’t the end of the world–it’s just an opportunity to set up healthy boundaries.

Oh, and I get you may not just be able to walk away from that person so easily. She might be a relative or close friend.

But remember–being related to someone DOES NOT give them carte blanche to treat you like poorly.

It takes a herculean effort to be confident enough to speak up and stand your ground when they push back. But until then, remember:

  1. Be aware that some of the most toxic people may be the ones closest to you
  2. Their smack-talking has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own insecurities
  3. You have the power to speak up for yourself
  4. Family members and close friends *do not* get to throw shade just because they’re in your life.

The post Want To Feel Better? Then Stop Hanging Around Toxic People appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Questions Kids Have About Divorce

Mother May I? 10 Questions Your Kids Want To Ask About Divorce But Don’t

Questions Kids Have About Divorce

As a mother, you inevitably feel a grave sense of concern about how divorce will affect your children.

Kids of all ages are deeply impacted by divorce simply because they feel the same sense of disillusionment that you do around the loss of an intact nuclear family.

Your instinct will be to protect your children from pain, and you may feel that they are better off not knowing too many details about what’s happening.

Talking to your children about divorce is delicate and needs to be age appropriate in nature, but they definitely need a forum and safe opportunity to express their experience and ask questions.

Their instinct will be to mind their own business, and to feel unsure about what’s permissible to bring up or discuss.

They look to you as the gatekeeper of what is allowed.

Protection can often come across as guarded or defensive to your kids so you need to be mindful and cautious about your non-verbal communications, and what kind of message you’re sending.

You obviously don’t want to expose them to toxic interactions, and you never want to use them as therapists.

What you do want to create is the space for them to feel comfortable asking you pretty much anything.

Getting your children to open up in a healthy way shouldn’t be hard. The one trick you’ll want to use is what I call “going first.” You basically ask them directive questions about their feelings and experience to send a message that questions are helpful and welcome.

Avoid general inquiries like “Are you ok?” or “I’m here if you need to talk.” Be specific with questions like “Are you sad about what’s happening?” or “Do you feel scared with what’s going on?”

Even if you don’t get answers your children will still know that you’re interested, and that curiosity is a good thing.

You can also explicitly tell them that you invite their questions, and that you’ll answer as well as you can. Your goal is to build trust so they are eager to share with you.

Questions Kids Have About Divorce But Don’t

1. Is this divorce my fault?

Children are quick to blame themselves for divorce. It’s too scary for them to blame you because they depend on you and need you for their survival.

You can be sure that they are wondering if they are to blame for the divorce so it will be important to address these feelings.

2. Am I allowed to tell my friends about your divorce?

When and how to tell friends about the divorce is tricky for everyone in the family. This is a good question and you will have to answer it based on your own family values.

Whatever you decide make it the same rule for everyone if possible so there is no hypocrisy or misunderstandings.

3. Do I need to pick a side?

Many divorces are riddled with parental alienation and blame. Children get caught in the middle and wonder if they need to protect or take the side of one parent.

They are very perceptive and observant so if you don’t address this they will just automatically pick one parent because they feel they need to even though they should never have to.

4. Does this mean I won’t see one of you?

Fear of loss and the reality of less time with each parent is upsetting for kids. They want to know that they will be minimally affected by the divorce so it’s natural for them to wonder whether they will lose time with one or both of their parents.

Even if your custody is not yet determined they need to know that the goal is equal time with both parents (barring any unusual circumstances).

5. Will we have to move?

Another loss for children is connected to their home. Worrying about being displaced and feeling anxious about change is prominent for children going through a divorce.

You may not have the answer, but what they are really wondering is if they will feel safe. You can always assure them that you will make sure they do.

6. Will you stop fighting now?

Some couples remain in a very toxic marriage for years before getting divorced and kids witness this.

There may be a sense of relief in knowing that there will be a peaceful household, but they may also feel guilty for the sense of relief they feel.

7. Will I be able to live with my brother/sister?

Siblings are the saving grace for children going through divorce. It makes sense that they would think each child might go with one parent.

Assuring them that they will stay together will ease their anxiety and bring them closer together as allies.

8. Should I be mad at one of you?

In line with the idea of taking sides your children might feel they need to pick one of you to hate. Someone has to be to blame because their limited cognitive ability makes it hard for them to imagine anything else.

9. Will you still love me as much?

The loss of an intact family can easily be grouped with a loss of love for a child. Anything split in half means less of something for them so they will wonder if they will get the same attention and love they always did.

Kids don’t like to share and they don’t have a sense of abundance.

10. Can I be angry and upset about your divorce?

Your children will be very confused about their feelings. They may believe that they are supposed to just accept the situation because they have no power over whether it happens or not. Even though they are innocent victims they still need to have and feel the power of emotional expression.

Most importantly you want your children to know that they are loved, safe and protected. You want them to express their feelings, talk to you about everything inside of them, and to feel like they are part of the process without feeling like the problem.

You have the power to help them heal, but only if you know how they’re suffering.

The post Mother May I? 10 Questions Your Kids Want To Ask About Divorce But Don’t appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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children

How To Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

children's difficult questions about divorce

 

“Can you and daddy get married again?”

“Why can’t I stay with you”?

“Do you and mommy still love each other?”

“Whose decision was it to get a divorce?”

 

Children in divorce often have questions; they can come at the least expected moment.

For parents struggling to adjust to the challenges of single parenting in a two-home family, such questions can strike at the heart of their own emotional vulnerabilities and trigger uncertainties regarding their relationship with the other parent, their own parenting, and the wellbeing of their children.

However, such questions, if responded to thoughtfully, can be valuable opportunities to help children adjust to real changes and instill hope and confidence in both parent’s continued commitment to listen, guide, and give comfort.

Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

Be prepared before questions arise. Understand that:

  • Children often ask questions when and with whom they feel safe and consider it as a sign of the strength of your relationship with your child.
  • Children’s questions can be about needing actual information, but they can also be about a need for deeper understanding or simply a bid for a parent’s reassurance.
  • Younger children often ask questions that have to do with changes and anxieties about their daily lives. They often need simple, brief responses that reassure their fears regarding the change.
  • Older children may ask direct questions about their parent’s relationships but are actually seeking reassurance for themselves. They may need reassurance that they can continue being children and do not have to care for parents, take sides and can continue their focus on independent goals.
  • Older children may also ask questions about their parent’s relationships in order to form their own concepts and expectations of their future romantic relationships and their concepts of love and family.
  • Don’t confuse intellectual understanding with emotional understanding in children. Intellectual maturity comes well before emotional maturity. Don’t give children inappropriate adult information.

When questions arise:

 Center:

Take a deep breath and calm yourself before responding.

  • Resist the attempt to avoid the question due to fear or sadness regarding your child’s pain- Children are not immune from grief and sadness.
  • Recognize your emotional reaction regarding the divorce, yet put it aside- you can process any feelings later with your own support.

 Listen:

  • For younger children get on eye level and pay full attention
  • For older children give signals that you are listening but know that a little less direct approach or a little activity may make older children them more comfortable- you be the judge.
  • Ask open-ended, neutral questions to get a fuller understanding of their experience before offering a response:

“You sound worried/sad/mad is that right or is it something else?”

“That’s an important question, tell me more”

Understand:

Ask yourself what they are really expressing/wanting/needing.

  • Are they primarily expressing emotion-do they need comfort/reassurance?
  • Are they asking for basic information that they have a need to know?
  • Are they asking information to gain a deeper understanding?

Respond with care and follow with comfort:

  • If the message is an emotional bid for comfort/reassurance, answer the question with a brief, direct response:

No I will not leave, both daddy and I will always for you even if we live in different houses”

  • If they are asking for information that is helpful and not hurtful to them or their relationship with either parent, give an honest, simple and neutral (not blaming to either parent) answer:

“No mom and I are not going to get married again, but we both love you and will always be here to take care of you- we will always be your parents”

  • If they are seeking a deeper understanding and the answer is not harmful, first help clarify their deeper question and give honest, brief and neutral information:

“I think you’re asking if you were made from love- you were. Even if dad and I care for each other differently than when we were married- our love for you will never change”

  • If the answer to their question is possibly harmful or “adult business”, reassure them that it’s okay to ask but that their job is to be a kid- not be involved in adult issues:

“It sounds like you are asking if anyone is to blame. I know you want to understand, but marriage and divorce is adult stuff and we are okay.  Know that we love you and you don’t need to worry or take care of either of us”

  • If the question is “adult business” but for the older child, really about their own future, first clarify the question and provide an answer to that rather than giving inappropriate adult information:

“I wonder if you are really asking if because we got a divorce that you question if love lasts. Every relationship is different and you will get the chance to make your own choices about love and who you marry”.

Children’s ability to navigate the shifts of daily life and make sense out of the bigger questions are essential parts of healing in divorce.  With each question, children begin to build a framework of understanding and learn what divorce changes and what it does not change.

They develop a more flexible, durable, concept of family and love. Children’s questions can be hard, but listening and responding with care and gentle guidance is one of the most loving acts a parent can provide.

The post How To Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Happy 4th Of July! 10 Hilarious Someecards To Help You Celebrate

Happy 4th Of July! 10 Hilarious Someecards To Help You Celebrate

Some of us will be out, some of us will be in. However you choose to celebrate the 4th of July, don’t forget to laugh at life, yourself and just in general. Have a great holiday! And, if you are celebrating your 1st post-divorce “independence” on the 4th we wish you an especially fabulous day.

1. We all need a break from that!

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2. And that he doesn’t ruin the traditional 4th of July celebration

in Washington by making it all about himself!

3. The 4th of December? Nah!

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4. Some people go crazy in the streets, some go crazy online!

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5. Meet trimmings, fat, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite. Nom Nom!

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6. Be careful out there folks! It’s a new America.

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7. You know you are codependent when you starve at the 4th of July

picnic because your boyfriend can’t find anything to eat. 

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8. It’s the American way!

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9. The party starts at 10! BYOB!

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10. Any woman who can’t celebrate her independence needs

therapy, not chocolate.

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The post Happy 4th Of July! 10 Hilarious Someecards To Help You Celebrate appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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