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15 Books Perfect For Children Living With Abusive Parents

Parents often ask me for resources to help them support their children who are living with an abusive parent.  It can be such a difficult topic to explain as there are so many emotions involved.

I have therefore compiled this list, with the help of many of my clients, to offer you some guidance and words on how to best support the child.

It is broken down into age categories for ease but remember that a child’s physical age is not necessarily their emotional age so be mindful of where that child is at in terms of their own understanding.

Children aged 0 – 6

At this age children are learning that their behaviour effects the world around them and these early experiences form a blueprint for how they see their world. They may blame themselves for arguments and will be asking things like “why does mummy hate daddy?” or “what did I do wrong?”  Children will also begin to assert themselves in play and this can be aggressive.

Boys can “fall in love” with their mothers and girls with their fathers and so this stages forms a blueprint for relationships and how they view the opposite sex. Abusive parents can distort a child’s view of what the role of a mummy/daddy and man/woman is.

Therefore the books in this list focus on helping children to manage their emotions and understand anger better.

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

Abusive parenting can result in emotions becoming very scary and distorted. The child may witness a parent happy one minute, angry the next with no trigger.  They won’t know what changed and so can be confused by not just their own emotions but also their parents.

Many children with abusive parents can also take ownership of their parent’s emotions and express them as their own.  Saying “I’m sad” or “I’m scared” but smiling and laughing.

This books helps children to identify what they are feeling on a range of subjects.

How are you feeling today Baby Bear By Jane Evans

Children who grow up in abusive homes often feel they did something wrong to cause the argument.  They regularly feel afraid, lonely, angry and tired.

This sensitive, charming storybook is written to help children who have lived with violence at home to begin to explore and name their feelings.

Kit Kitten and the Topsy Turvy Feelings by Jane Evans

Once upon a time there was a little kitten called Kit who lived with a grown-up cat called Kizz Cat. Kit Kitten couldn’t understand why sometimes Kizz Cat seemed sad and faraway and others times was busy and rushing about. Kit Kitten was sometimes cold and confused in this topsy turvy world and needed help to find ways to tell others about the big, medium and small feelings which were stuck inside. Luckily for Kit, Kindly Cat came along. Many children live in homes where things are chaotic and parents or carers are distracted and emotionally unavailable to them.

This storybook, designed for children aged 2 to 6, includes feelings based activities to build a child’s emotional awareness and vocabulary. A helpful tool for use by parents, carers, social workers and other professionals to enable young children to begin to name and talk about their feelings.

Two Homes by Claire Masurel

In this award-winning picture book classic about divorce, Alex has two homes – a home where Daddy lives and a home where Mummy lives. Alex has two front doors, two bedrooms and two very different favourite chairs. He has a toothbrush at Mummy’s and a toothbrush at Daddy’s. But whether Alex is with Mummy or Daddy, one thing stays the same: Alex is loved by them both – always.

This gently reassuring story focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. Two Homes will help children – and parents – embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.

Although not specifically centred upon parental mental health, divorce is an unsettling time for both parents and children and so this book may help ease the worry of how to explain what is happening to a child.

Grow Happy by Jon Lasser

“My name is Kiko. I’m a gardener. I grow happy. Let me show you how.” Kiko shows the reader how she grows happiness: by making good choices, taking care of her body and mind, paying attention to her feelings, problem solving, and spending time with family and friends. Kids will learn that they can play a pivotal role in creating their own happiness, just like Kiko. A Note to Parents and Other Caregivers provides more strategies for helping children learn how to grow happiness. Age range 4-8.

Anger is Okay, Violence is Not by Julie K Federico

Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT belongs on the desk of every child protective services case worker. This book has a hidden message for children who are living with violence and struggling with a domestic violence definition. This book is also a great resource for toddler’s struggling with temper tantrums. The book offers replacement behaviors children can do instead of getting angry. Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT teaches children about fish, feelings, families and anger control.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes

Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous for no reason. Sometimes his stomach hurt. He had bad dreams. And he started to feel angry and do mean things, which got him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. Now Sherman is feeling much better.

This gently told and tenderly illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, including physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, and natural disasters such as floods or fire. An afterword written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.

Children aged 7 – 13 years

At this age, children are asking more questions and starting to understand right from wrong. This can be especially hard when they are being taught bullying and violence is wrong but witness this at home. It can be really difficult for them to process and they will struggle with their own identity as well as feeling alienated from others. They will begin to identify with their own gender and so can align themselves with the abusive parent of the same sex. They are also learning consequences and to push boundaries. Abusive parents can either have to strict or too lapse boundaries and so children struggle to feel safe. This can lead to them withdrawing or lashing out.

The books in this age bracket are therefore focused on developing their identity and managing behaviours.

Lizzy Lives In An Angry House: Learning to Thrive In the Midst of an Angry Environment by Karen Addison MSPH

Karen Addison, educator, author and speaker, has witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of emotional and verbal abuse. Many have not addressed this form of destruction in relationships because it is difficult to talk about and difficult to understand. Often people don’t realize they are in emotionally destructive relationships, and this is especially true of children. If they are living in a home where a parent is “scary angry” and emotionally destructive, chances are the other parent is struggling to cope with that person, as well as the negative dynamics in the home. With wisdom and practical experience, Addison gives readers young and old alike an empathetic approach to recognising emotionally destructive (scary angry) relationships and tools to help those living in “scary angry” homes overcome and break the cycle of abuse

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

Includes backmatter with discussion questions and resources for further reading.

Angryman by Gro Dahle

There’s someone in the living room.

It’s Dad.

It is Angryman.

Boj’s father can be very angry and violent. Boj calls this side of his father’s personality “Angryman.” When Angryman comes no one is safe. Until something powerful happens…

Gro Dahle’s astute text and Svein Nyhus’s bold, evocative art capture the full range of emotions that descend upon a small family as they grapple with “Angryman.” With an important message to children who experience the same things as Boj: You are not alone. It’s not your fault. You must tell someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Somebody Cares: a Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect by Susan Farber Straus

Somebody Cares explores the feelings and thoughts many kids have when they’ve had to look out for themselves or be alone much of the time. A useful book to read with a caring adult — such as a parent, foster parent, kinship parent, or therapist — Somebody Cares reassures children who have experienced neglect that they are not to blame for what happened in their family, and that they can feel good about themselves for many reasons. It takes time for kids to get used to changes in their family or living situation, even when they are good changes. This book will help kids learn some ways to feel safer, more relaxed, and more confident.

Teenagers

Teenagers are going through their own internal battle with hormone changes as well as having to make some life choices with regards to career. They often regress to toddler behaviour due to this pressure. For children with abusive parents the control between their own family and their friends can cause real confusion and disappointment or anger. They may, due to hormonal issues, start to lash out more and this can terrify them because they recognise themselves in their abusive parent. Equally they may see a passive parent and feel anger towards them for not doing anything. There may also be a physical risk to the child at this age as they talk back.

Children at this age will have a strong sense or morality though and so are more likely to want to speak out to others about the injustice they feel at home and perhaps even run away or move out as soon as they are old enough.

Therefore books for this age group are around managing their own emotions and feeling safe to speak up and gain some understanding about what is happening in their family.

Don’t let your emotions run your life by Sheri van Dijk

Let’s face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated&mdashand those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you’ll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you’ll be ready to handle anything life sends your way. Based in dialectical behavior therapy, a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps you learn the skills you need to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.

This book offers easy techniques to help you: Stay calm and mindful in difficult situations, Effectively manage out-of-control emotions, Reduce the pain of intense emotions and Get along with family and friends

My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael A. Tompkins, Ph.D., and Katherine A. Martinez, Psy.D

Learn strategies to help you take control of your anxiety. The authors share information about breathing, thinking, facing fears, panic attacks, nutrition, sleep, exercise, medication, and how to tell if and when anxiety is a problem.

The Truth about Love, Dating and Just Being Friends by Chat Eastham

Chad shines some much-needed light on these major issues for teens. Rather than let their feelings navigate them blindly through their tumultuous adolescence, Chad offers clarity, some surprising revelations, and answers to some of their biggest questions: How do I know who to date?  When should I start dating? How should I start dating? Is this really love? And, Why do guys I like just want to be friends?

Packed with humor that adds to the sound advice, this book will help teens make better decisions, have healthier relationships, and be more prepared for their futures. Just a few things girls will learn include: Five things you need to know about love; Eight dumb dating things even smart people do; Ten reasons why teens are unhappy; and Ten things happy teens do.

Any teen can live a happier, healthier life: they just need to hear The Truth

Forged By Fire by Sharon M Draper

Will Gerald find the courage to stand up to his stepfather? 

When his loving aunt dies, Gerald suddenly is thrust into a new home filled with anger and abuse. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes Gerald miserable, and the only light in his grim life is Angel, his young stepsister. Gerald and Angel grow close as he strives to protect her from Jordan, his abusive stepfather, and from their substance-addicted mother. But Gerald learns, painfully, that his post can’t be extinguished, and that he must be strong enough to face Jordan in a final confrontation, once and for all…. 

This list is not exhaustive

I have just compiled some that I think resonate with my audience but please do your own research. You know what your child is ready for. Also remember that the ages are not cut off points and so be mindful of your own child’s capacity and choose the ones which best suit by the content, not the age.

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alcoholic ex

Alcoholic Ex? Practical and Legal Remedies For Protecting Your Children

alcoholic ex

 

Wash your hands. Eat your vegetables. Wear your bike helmet. Mothers direct much of their energy toward keeping their children safe and healthy. That’s why moms have such a hard time leaving their children in the care of someone else. It even can be hard for a mother to trust the other parent. And if the other parent has a problem with alcohol, a mother’s instincts are likely to be in full protective mode.

If your ex struggles with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), you may have wrestled with some or all of these questions: Can I legally cut off or restrict contact between my child and the father? If I can do so, should I? Is there a way to maintain contact but keep my children safe? What part can my children play in ensuring their own safety?

Every case is different, but generally, research shows that children benefit from contact with both parents, as long as they are emotionally stable and the two of them aren’t waging war with one other. Also, you may compromise your own legal position if you deny your ex court-ordered parenting time. But when AUD enters the picture, more serious concerns make an appearance, too.

Practical and Legal Remedies For Protecting Your Children From an Alcoholic Ex

Alcohol Use Disorder and Parenting Time

Generally speaking, alcohol use does not render a parent unworthy of parenting time. Courts usually consider drinking an issue only if there is proof, usually in the form of arrests or other legal records, that the parent drinks to excess. Even then, parents may be allowed contact with children, especially if they are enrolled in a treatment program.

A mother in the process of getting a divorce can try for restricted or supervised parenting time for the parent struggling with alcoholism. If the decree has already been decided, however, getting it altered can be a time-consuming process.

The practical outcome, in many cases, is that the mother is responsible for determining whether the father is using alcohol before or during his parenting time and for ascertaining whether his alcohol use affects his ability to care for his children.

It goes without saying that mothers can also struggle with alcoholism, but this article is specifically targeted toward moms whose ex-husbands have AUD.

Make Your Stance Known

Communication is still important even when your spouse becomes your ex-spouse. Your ex should not feel blindsided by any actions that you might feel are necessary. If your divorce decree is final and does not address the issue of your ex’s alcohol use, you need to let him know ahead of time how you will handle any alcohol-related crises that might occur.

It’s optimal if you and your ex can come up with such a plan together, but realistically that is not going to occur in most cases. If your ex-husband is in denial about his alcohol use, he may insist that he would never endanger his children. No matter what he says, you should make it clear that being intoxicated during his parenting time will not be tolerated.

Legal Remedies

If you are dealing with an ex-spouse whose abuse of alcohol is intractable, you may decide that gaining sole custody is your only workable solution. In order to have a chance of getting sole custody, you will have to present evidence that the father’s alcohol abuse puts his children in danger and that being in his care is not in the children’s best interests.

Parental rights are strong. Gathering and presenting evidence against an ex-husband is an uncomfortable role for many women, but without strong evidence, you have little chance of getting sole custody. You can hire a private investigator, but your input and testimony will probably be needed as well.

If what you are seeking is a modification of your original child custody decree, you will need to present evidence of a material change in circumstances. If your ex’s alcohol use was in evidence during the original divorce case, you will need to show evidence that his use has increased and that it is not in the best interests of your children for him to have physical custody at any time.

Some states have laws regulating how soon and how often you can request a modification of your court order. In order to file a request for modification outside of that time frame, you will need to show that your children are in physical danger or will suffer significant mental or emotional distress. The exact requirements and wording for requesting modifications vary from state to state.

A Practical Solution

A remote alcohol monitoring system, such as Soberlink, is another possible solution for you and your ex. This system combines a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity. The portable design and technology include facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind. The reliability of alcohol monitoring systems has been upheld in court.

Alcohol monitoring systems are quick to put into place and can reassure you about your ex’s sobriety when it matters most. Although the courts may mandate testing, you and your ex-husband could also work out an agreement requiring that he submit a test prior to and/or during parenting time. Using such a system could greatly increase your peace of mind while your children are out of your care.

The Role of Your Children

Most experts agree that children should not be put in the position of reporting to one parent about the other parent’s behavior. Still, once your children reach a certain age, they can be participants in ensuring their own safety. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Teach your child never to get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.
  • Give your children basic cell phones as soon as practical and be sure they know how to use them.
  • Be sure that your child knows your full name and physical address. Teach your children your phone number, even though it is stored on their phones. They may need to call from a different phone.
  • Designate one family member or friend as your first backup, to be called if a child cannot reach you.
  • Talk to your children about how to find “safe strangers” if they ever need help. Police officers and firefighters are the most obvious examples.
  • Occasionally role-play what they should do if they need help.
  • Consider counseling for children who seem troubled or who exhibit any of these 11 signs.

Other Considerations

Sharing your children with an ex with AUD is never easy, even when things are going well. You want your children to have the security of two parents who love them, but you may have trouble forgiving their other parent. You really need time away from your children, but you may find it hard to relax when they are gone. You feel that you should talk to your children about Alcohol Abuse, but you don’t want to portray their father as a bad parent.

There are no easy fixes for your situation, but it’s important to take care of yourself and get help and advice if you need it. Some people find direction and comfort in Al-Anon, an organization for friends and families of alcoholics that is based upon the 12-step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some hospitals, clinics, and churches also offer support groups for those affected by Alcohol Use Disorder. If you are uncomfortable with a group approach, consider one-on-one sessions with a spiritual leader or therapist.

While you are trying to work with your ex to keep him in your kids’ lives, don’t be naive. If you happen across any evidence that your ex-husband’s alcohol abuse is out of control, document it. Keep a record if he misses scheduled visits, shows up late, does not respond to phone calls or texts or otherwise fails to act in a responsible manner. This information could be helpful if you have to take legal steps to protect your children.

If you need legal advice, find an attorney. If you can’t afford a lawyer, use this list of resources for free legal help. If you or your children need counseling or therapy, this advice from Mental Health America may be useful.

The post Alcoholic Ex? Practical and Legal Remedies For Protecting Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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domestic violence and children

Domestic Violence And Children: What Is The Impact?

domestic violence and children

 

Domestic Violence should never be taken lightly. While the severity may range, it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the situation. The way victims choose to respond varies as well. Some victims wait before seeking help, others may immediately look for guidance, and unfortunately, some may never even report the incident(s). It’s important to let those victims know though that there is support out there.

By allowing an abusive relationship to continue, you could be putting yourself and your family in an even worse position. When victims opt to not ask for help, it not only puts them in a bad situation but their children as well. We don’t always acknowledge how children tend to be indirect victims when it comes to domestic violence. Even if the kids aren’t the target for physical or abusive behavior in the home, they can still suffer socially and psychologically.

If you or someone you know is suffering through domestic violence with kids at home, it’s important to know there are people ready to help. Taking legal action can only benefit you and your kids when it comes to escaping the cruelties of domestic violence in the home.

Domestic Violence and Children Who Witness It

While victims of domestic violence take the brunt of the abuse, kids living in the home will suffer also. This is why getting in touch with a divorce lawyer is extremely important. While it may not always be physical, just being present during a negative situation can lead to problems in the future. The effect of observing domestic violence has on kids ranges. If your kids are living in a home with domestic violence, they may end up with some of the following issues:

  • They could develop their own violent tendencies
    • To others or even themselves
  • Experience feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Displaying delinquent behavior
    • Such as aggression towards their peers and family members
  • Struggle developing social skills
  • Stunted development of their motor and cognitive skills
  • Delays in speech development

While it may not be apparent to your child what’s actually going on, it will eventually begin to impact them negatively. Which will lead them to struggle in their adult lives. Issues the involve feeling safe or even forming relationships may arise as they grow up. They could also end up in abusive relationships themselves, due to the secrets and hush tendencies they witnessed in their homes throughout their adolescence.

The age difference:

Keep in mind that the negative effects we previously discussed may not always occur, depending on the age of your child. The stage of life your child is experiencing or witnessing abuse can lead to different issues or needs. For example, an infant who is present during an episode of domestic violence may experience attachment issues. This could lead to excessive crying as well as eating and sleeping difficulties.

Whereas a preschool-aged child may experience different effects after being present during episodes of domestic violence. At this stage of the child’s life, they are in need of protection and stability, which normally would be provided by their parent. Unfortunately though, when they live in a home where domestic violence is common, these needs become disrupted causing further emotional and physical outbursts.

Contact a lawyer:

In most cases of domestic abuse, there are legitimate grounds for divorce, especially if there are children are involved. As long as the victim(s) are actively reporting the incidents, they’ll have the right to leave the violent offender. By contacting a lawyer, you’ll obtain full custody of your children or child.

If you, or someone you know, is a married victim of domestic violence, with children there is a team of attorneys ready to help. A qualified professional can help you take action towards ending the abuse going on in your home by initiating the divorce process in a safe manner.

The post Domestic Violence And Children: What Is The Impact? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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divorcing with adult children

Divorcing With Adult Children: It Isn’t Easier

divorcing with adult children

 

There are tons of resources and advice on getting divorced with minor children but adult children tend to be forgotten. What’s important to understand about divorce with adult children is that it is still painful for them.

Divorcing with adult children isn’t easier or harder but it is different and that means you can’t take anything for granted.

You need to be every bit as mindful and intentional about your divorce as you would have been if your children were still minors.

How to handle divorcing with adult children.

Telling Your Children

How your children hear about your divorce matters. With minor children living at home, the best approach is for both parents to tell all the children together so they all hear the same message. Divorce attorney-turned adviser and coach, Karen Covy says that’s still the best approach for adult children.

“However you can orchestrate getting everyone together whether it’s physically or virtually, at the same time, in the same place, gives you the most control over what’s communicated and how it’s communicated,” said Covy.

The danger in telling each child individually is that before you even finished having the conversation with the first child, they’re already passing on the news to their sibling(s) via text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever other technology they use.

Adult Children Feel Responsible

Adult children do take on the responsibility for their parents’ divorce, just as minor children do but they do it in a different way.

“They might not feel that they’re necessarily responsible for the breakup of the marriage,” said Covy. “They feel responsible for their parents’ unhappiness for all the years that they stayed together just for the kids.”

That translates often into a huge amount of guilt and it’s something that most parents don’t think about especially if they’re struggling with their own guilt. With that burden of guilt, your child may be advocating against the divorce or encouraging marriage counseling. They may be well-meaning but this is not their decision.

With long term marriages, the kids may be wondering if you’ve managed to make the marriage work for 30. 35, 40 years, why not just keep doing do what you’ve been doing.

“Just because you’ve handled it for 40 years doesn’t mean that you want to continue handing it for whatever time is left,” said Covy. “The problem is no children ever want to see their parents get divorced but it’s your decision, not theirs.”

It’s Harder When They Don’t See It Coming

Children who think their parents have a perfect marriage and don’t see the divorce coming have a harder time coping and especially when a child has a close relationship with a parent. Covy references research by Professor Tamara Afifi. She has a TEDx talk on the impact of divorce on children – see minute 11:56 for when she talks about children who don’t see the divorce coming.

I think children don’t see divorce coming when one party has decided the marriage needs to end but has made a decision to wait until the children are in college before acting. That parent starts to withdraw from the marriage, detaches and so they don’t engage in conflict and are able to construct this facade of a happy marriage. That enables the parent to stay in the marriage, to do family events and celebrations, have family vacations.

Then, when the end of the marriage happens the child is surprised because their parents never argued so of course, they had no idea the marriage was troubled.

“It rocks their whole world,” said Covy. “They start doubting whether what they saw was real. It’s not at all what it seemed.”

That starts a process rewriting their history and trying to make sense of family vacations and holidays. They struggle to find the truth in these events and it’s hard for them to accept the concept of multiple realities.

Adult children of divorce also start to look at their own relationships. That their parents did such a good job of covering up their problems, makes the child wonder about what’s real or solid in their own relationship.

The Kids Usually Know Something Is Not Right

While some kids don’t see the end of their parents’ marriage coming, many do. They’ve heard the arguments, or they’ve seen the behaviors that have made the marriage crumble or that made staying together really difficult.

Even if they don’t know the full extent, once you remove the protective shield of keeping up the facade, and the children start to renegotiate their relationship with each parent, their awareness will increase.

The Kids Don’t Need To Know Everything

While adult children struggle to rewrite their truth, it can be tempting to try to explain your own reality. There’s a fine line.

“For parents, the smartest thing is they’ve got to walk the line,” said Covy. “They want to share enough information to reassure them that no those weren’t fake. Those happy memories really were happy memories but perhaps there were other memories that the children weren’t privy to.”

Parents usually keep those circumstances from the children out of love and wanting to protect the children and that doesn’t make the other memories fake. And just because the parents have made the decision to end their marriage doesn’t mean that it is now time to share everything that has been going on.

Covy says the key here is to listen to your child and to let them vent. They may be angry. They may be frustrated and they’re going to have an opinion but don’t play into it and don’t get defensive.

Avoid Oversharing

This is related to children not needing to know everything but it’s so important it needs to be emphasized. A common mistake that many people make is to overshare with their adult children because they think they’re adults and they can handle it. That’s not necessarily true.

Avoiding oversharing becomes trickier with adult children because they are going to ask the questions that younger children don’t. For example, your adult child may come right out and ask if you or their other parent was having an affair. If an affair was involved you might feel like telling your child because it justifies the divorce, it helps to explain everything.

“We all value honesty in our close relationships so that gives parents the impetus to overshare,” said Covy. “But then what? Nobody wants to know their parent was having a 10-year affair and all the gory details of who it was and what they did and where it happened. Nobody wants to know that about their parent. And to think that won’t damage a relationship with a parent is crazy.”

While you are not responsible for covering up or keeping your STBX’s secrets Covy says that your North Star for deciding what to share is asking if sharing the information will hurt your child’s relationship with their other parent and whether not sharing it will hurt your child’s relationship with you.

Related to over-sharing is getting your child over-involved. A classic example of this is when one parent needs to move out of the marital home and asks their child if they can move in with them. Finances may be very limited and finding somewhere inexpensive to live for at least a few months may be a priority but if there are other options take them. And, if the real reason to move in with your child is for emotional support, then all the more reason to look for somewhere else to live. Your child is not your social support system or your therapist.

Don’t Ask Or Expect Your Child To Take A Side

Based on my experience, I think it is more common for adult children to take sides in their parents’ divorce because they do know or think they know more about the circumstances. This isn’t healthy and it’s not what we want. In the short term, taking sides will certainly hurt the child’s relationship with the parent they’re opposing. In the long run, it may even hurt their relationship with the parent with whom they’re allied. The other real danger is that it will damage a child’s relationship with their sibling(s) because it pits them against each other.

This is easier said than done especially in situations where one parent is oversharing. For example, if you end up keeping the marital home as a result of the divorce negotiations, your child might say that they don’t think it’s fair that their other parent gave you the home. The word ‘gave’ is a red flag that your STBX has been oversharing and painting you in a negative light.

To not respond or defend yourself would likely damage your relationship with your child which may already be strained. At the same time, you want to avoid oversharing because the details of the divorce are not your child’s business. Even if your STBX is oversharing, taking the high road is the right choice.

In this case, responding with an acknowledgment that yes you did get the home, that your STBX didn’t “give” you the home, and then stating that your ex got other assets that are worth as much as the house would be appropriate. You could also explain that the legal process does call for an equitable division of the assets and that is supervised by the court.

It’s Takes Time To Rebuild

While your adult child is wondering what was real about the family vacations and Holiday get-togethers may be an opportunity for you to reassure them that’s how you can all still be a family even after divorce, Covy stresses that it still takes time to rebuild.

It’s simply not realistic to think that because you and your STBX have managed these events civilly, even amicably in the past that you can carry on doing so as if the divorce didn’t change anything. It’s a great ideal but it does take most families time and commitment to achieve this.

“I see so many people put pressure on themselves and say, ‘I want to be best friends with my ex’ and I say, ‘Yeah, but you haven’t even divorced him, yet’” said Covy. “If you’re not friends immediately that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to ever be friends or be on good terms them.”

Give yourself the time to get through the legal process first and to let the dust settle. Sometimes continuing family dinners while you’re navigating your separation is just too painful and doesn’t help the children either because it exposes to them to on-going conflict and makes feel caught in the middle.

This article was originally published on Since My Divorce.

The post Divorcing With Adult Children: It Isn’t Easier appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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4th of July without your children

Life, Liberty and Shared Custody: Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children

4th of July without your children

 

Are you in too much of a funk to give a second thought to fireworks and hotdogs? Holidays…the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult to celebrate if you are without your children. Let’s face it; watching other children in awe of the magic of fireworks isn’t easy when your children are spending the day with their Dad. Your “funk” is understandable!

Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children

How do you get yourself out of a funk?

One thing that has always worked for me is to let go of the guilt I feel over feeling less than celebratory. There is nothing wrong with missing your children, especially if your tradition has been to spend special holidays with them.

It has been my experience that feeling bad about feeling bad only made me feel worse. It was like piling one more negative emotion to deal with on top of everything else. If you are divorced and feeling alone and funked you are experiencing normal feelings. Accept that it is fine to feel how you’re feeling…berating yourself over valid feelings doesn’t do anything except make you feel worse.

You need to also give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday regardless of what kind of adversity you have or, are experiencing. Feeling lonely and isolated doesn’t have to become a foregone conclusion. Just because you aren’t all red, white and blue is no reason to immerse yourself in maudlin activities while others are out and about enjoying their 4th of July.

Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully help alleviate some stress and help you survive the 4th of July without your children.

1. Don’t participate in any 4th of July activities you feel obligated to participate in. If you aren’t in the mood to be around nosy relatives, then make a different choice. Listening to Grandma’s complaints or having to answer your cousin’s questions about your divorce can be nerve-wracking. Be kind to your nerves and yourself!

2. Friends who supported you through your divorce, who know what you’ve been through will also get you through a lonely holiday. Spend time with people who are invested in helping you get the most out of life…who better than close friends who don’t expect too much from you.

3. If you find yourself alone, remind yourself that you have a right to a good time. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone one year. I wasn’t looking forward to it but now that I look back I realize that, although alone it was one darn good time. Whether it be the 4th of July or any post-divorce holiday alone, treat yourself to something special.

A bubble bath, a day of romantic comedies, a bit of wine and a few chocolates. Maybe even a sparkler or two! Pamper yourself on your day alone and be rested and relaxed for when the kids get home.

Stress and negative feelings during a post-divorce holiday can be difficult, but they don’t have to be debilitating. Making time to relax and do the things you enjoy is essential to keeping a balance. When facing a holiday alone, remind yourself that you have as much right to a good time as anyone else so, relax and enjoy the occasion to the best of your ability.

The post Life, Liberty and Shared Custody: Surviving 4th of July Without Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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06/04 The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs

06/04 The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs

There are a number of practical issues to address when a couple with one or more special needs children goes through a divorce, such as custody, family support, education, finances, and legal rights.

The post 06/04 The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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06/04 The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs

The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs

There are a number of practical issues to address when a couple with one or more special needs children goes through a divorce, such as custody, family support, education, finances, and legal rights.

The post The Impact of Divorce on Children With Special Needs appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce

Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce

If you haven’t learned by now, then it is time you know, the healthy way to deal with stress is to communicate about the issues that are causing the stress. This is true regardless of what age a person is. Your child may be feeling anger, fear or sadness, and unsafe when it comes to expressing those feelings.

The post Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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children are caught in the middle during divorce

What Happens When Children Are Caught in the Middle During Divorce?

children are caught in the middle during divorce

 

If you’ve been through a divorce or, you are thinking about divorce one of your main concerns will be how your divorce will impact your children. Study after study relates to the ways in which divorce negatively impacts children. It’s no wonder parents worry about their children’s welfare based on common information about the subject of children and divorce.

Divorce can negatively impact children but there are ways to keep that from happening. You should know that the impact your divorce will have on your children dependents mainly on how you and your spouse choose to treat each other during and after divorce and, how you choose to parent.

Children who witness conflict between their parents during and after divorce or, feel as if they have been put in the middle of that conflict are negatively impacted by divorce. If you want your divorce to do little harm to your children, it’s your job to keep down the conflict and keep them out of the middle of problems between you and your ex.

You may feel that conflict during divorce is unavoidable or the fault of the other parent, regardless of what you feel, it is imperative that you take the steps needed to keep your children from witnessing conflict and feeling stuck in the middle of two angry parents.

Below are 4 ways children are caught in the middle during divorce:

  1. When parents use their children as a messenger or a means of finding out information about the other parent’s home, dating life, and social activities.
  2. Negative comments about the other parent made by you, friends or family members.
  3. Sharing adult details about the problems between the parents. Details such as information about infidelity, legal divorce proceedings or the reason for the divorce.
  4. Garnering the child’s favor in an attempt to use the child to punish the other parent.
  5. Talking to the child about money issues. A late child support check, a lack of money needed to pay the rent…adult financial problems that children have no control over.

Divorce brings an end to your marriage, it doesn’t bring an end to your duties as a parent. One of those duties is to put a concerted effort into positively co-parenting with your child’s other parent. Below are a few suggestions that will help.

Choosing the parenting style that fits well for you and your ex will keep your child out of the middle:

Parallel Parenting After Divorce

If there is a lot of conflict between you and your ex, parallel parenting is appropriate. Why? Parallel parenting allows each parent to remain a part of the child’s life while reducing the need for contact with each other. When parallel parenting, there is very little communication which, in turn, keeps down the conflict and protects the child from being impacted in a negative manner.

When parallel parenting, parents:

  1. Communicate through email, a third party or an app like Family Wizard to stay informed about issues involving the children. Discussions are strictly about the children and no personal issues between the parents. Use of a phone to communicate is only done in cases of an emergency.
  2. Schedules such as visitation, vacations and holidays are strictly kept. There is no negotiating for different days and times to keep down the likelihood of conflicts arising.
  3. There is a set residency agreed upon or ordered by the courts. When the children are in the care of one or the other parent in their residence neither parent interferes with social activities, routines or anything that takes place in the other parent’s residence.
  4. Neither parent has any influence over the other parent and how that parent chooses to spend time with their children. If one parent has an issue with the way the other parent is choosing to parent in their residence, the court is used to settle the issue.
  5. Parenting is treated as a business arrangement. Common courtesy is shown at all times and agreements are honored because the sole purpose of parallel parenting is to do what is best for your children.
  6. When communication or negotiation is necessary, parents can choose to have a third party involved to witness and if needed mediate and conflict that arises.
  7. Child support payments are filtered through the court or a child support collection bureau to keep down any possibility of late payment or conflicts of over payments.

Cooperative Parenting After Divorce

Cooperative parenting works best when there is low conflict between parents and the parents are able to work together for the sake of the children. With cooperative parenting, there is more flexibility when it comes to visitation schedules and residency issues.

When cooperative parenting, parents:

  1. Parents form a friendly business relationship that revolves around the needs of their children. A courteous and polite relationship is one that will go a long way toward making sure children have what they need from each parent.
  2. Parents are able to talk, face-to-face about parenting issues as they arise. They are able to stick to the topic at hand without becoming distracted by old relationship issues.
  3. They don’t expect praise or emotional support from each other. They realize that part of their relationship has ended. But, they are able to show empathy and to support each other during difficult parenting issues.
  4. Keep all discussions about parenting, visitation, schedules and such to themselves and don’t involve the children. They come to a firm decision, as parents, before involving the children in their decisions.
  5. Are able to, at all times, put their children’s needs above their needs and feelings. Their relationship with the other parent is strictly about what is best for their children.
  6. Are able to communicate via phone or in person without engaging in conflict.
  7. Child support checks are mailed directly to the parent receiving the support. Due to their business like relationship, they both understand the importance of meeting their financial obligations to their children.

Whether parallel parenting or cooperative parenting, it is important to remember that one method is not better than the other. Each method will result in lower conflict and, as a result, better parenting. And, that is your goal as parents, better parenting and keeping your child out of the middle of your divorce issues.

The post What Happens When Children Are Caught in the Middle During Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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kids pet divorce

4 Ways In Which Pets Can Help Children Deal With Their Parents’ Divorce

kids pet divorce

 

Divorce is always hard on those involved. A marriage falling apart is something no-one likes to see. Often though, the party most affected by it are the children. The sudden loss of stability, perception of weakness in their parents who otherwise previously appeared so strong to them and the general confusion at what the future holds can leave children with serious emotional consequences, some of which could last their whole lives.

In those difficult times, children will often look for things to cling on to for comfort. One such comforting presence is a pet. Pets have proven themselves incredibly helpful to children going through any sort of trauma, including divorce.

When everything else around them is stressful and seems to be collapsing, pets can have a massive positive impact on a child as they try and deal with all of the problems that come with a parent’s divorce. Let’s take a look at the ways in which pets can positively influence your child’s experience of divorce.

Pets Can Help Children Deal with Their Parents’ Divorce

1. Consistent Love

Though the large majority of parents feel unconditional love for their child, in the stress and turmoil of divorce, children can feel ignored. There’ll be a lot of moments where it will be difficult for an adult going through this tough time to give their child what he or she needs.

“Having a pet, particularly a dog, gives a child a companion who, no matter what is going on around them, will be a constant source of love or at the very least the semblance of love that can imbue their lives with a needed sense of consistency”, says Ira Byrd, lifestyle blogger at LastMinuteWriting and Writinity. Having a pet there will allow a child to feel loved when they are uncertain about the concept itself as they witness their parents’ relationship fall apart.

2. Mental Health Monitor

It’s been proven that animals have the power to reduce stress in human beings. This phenomenon is what has bred the growth and embrace of therapy pets, animals that travel with humans who suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression and other psychological problems.

Even if your child isn’t explicitly affected to that degree, the presence of a pet is therapeutic and can provide positive, soothing emotions for them as they try and cope with the divorce. It’s also a good motivator for exercise, as a lot of pets encourage children to run around. The proven benefits on stress and mood of exercise make this a bonus reason why pets are good for your child’s mental health in this difficult time.

3. Someone They Can Talk To

Even adults will catch themselves talking to their animals, it’s a common part of the owner-pet dynamic. For children, the sense that their pet is actually listening to them is elevated and so it can have an extremely strong effect on them. Children need to talk through things during a divorce and it’s often the case that they will feel unable to discuss anything with either of their parents. On the other hand, a pet will listen to everything in a non-judgemental way. “In a sense, a pet can be a bit like a therapist for a child.

They can absorb everything that the child is thinking about a situation in a non-judgemental, quiet way and not expect anything out of the child in terms of behavior or mood”, writes Myra Mcguire, psychology writer at DraftBeyond and ResearchPapersUK.

4. For Security

One thing that can be really frightening about divorce for children is feeling like they have been abandoned by their parents. Parents might change in their children’s eyes as they go through the divorce process and, with all of the stressful complications that can arise in divorce, parents might find themselves very busy, without much time to attend to their child. Pets help children feel defended and secure, temporarily making up for the lack of security from the parents.

Conclusion

Divorce is never going to be easy on a child and it will always leave a lasting impression. However, having a pet by their side during the process really can help to mitigate some of the hardest parts of enduring this traumatic family event and can help them recover faster after the fact.

The post 4 Ways In Which Pets Can Help Children Deal With Their Parents’ Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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