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01/10 7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce

01/10 7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce

Arts and crafts can help kids sort out their feelings and remember that they are still part of a family that cares about each other, even if it’s changed.

The post 01/10 7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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01/10 7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce

7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce

Arts and crafts can help kids sort out their feelings and remember that they are still part of a family that cares about each other, even if it’s changed.

The post 7 Thanksgiving Crafts to Help Kids Through Thanksgiving After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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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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blended family life

4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

blended family life

 

According to statistics, there are many more stepfamilies today than there were a decade ago. And the number is projected to grow steadily. It is, therefore, essential for you as the mom in a blended family to help the children make necessary adjustments because such situations hit kids the hardest.

Below are a few ways you can help the kids make the adjustments required for their new, blended way of life.

Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

Explain the unique situation to the kids

As mentioned earlier, kids are the most affected when their parents either die or get divorced. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you as the mom to make ample time and talk to the kids involved. Acknowledge the difficulties they are going through and give them a pat on the back for being so brave. Then assure them by promising to be with them every step of the way.

Knowing that they have a strong and understanding mom who is ready to help will make the adjustment much easier for the kids, whether they’re yours or not.

Acknowledge their losses and help them through it

Blended families come as a result of deaths, divorces, or nasty breakups. Once again, the kids are usually hit the hardest when they lose a parent (or both their parents). The latter explains why kids are often very reluctant to accept blended families. As a caring mother, or stepmother, acknowledging their pain and at the same time helping them through it will make the transition much easier for the kids.

Helping kids through their pain is easier said than done. Some kids will outright disrespect you or throwing nasty tantrums in the name of coping with their new situation. If the latter happens, then it would be in your best interest to seek professional help. Once you’ve helped the kids overcome their pain, they’ll gradually start warming up to the idea of a blended family.

Nurture existing relationships

Just because you’ve forged a new, complicated relationship doesn’t mean death to the old ties that existed before the blended family. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you and your children to keep your old family traditions. If you used to watch movies or go bike riding once a month, stick to doing that because it will only make the transition gradual and as natural as possible.

You can also encourage your new man to do the same with his kids since they need help as well. Afterward, you can slowly create and introduce new family traditions with the blended family without getting rid of the old ones. Feel free to set your nice alarm panel to remind you of the times you and your kids ought to be doing your usual activities.

Encourage respect

Respect is the glue that holds together all kinds of relationships. And since blended families happen to be complex relationship structures, the more you have to emphasize respect since everything can fall apart so easily. You can start by letting the kids know the importance of respecting each other’s boundaries as well as privacy. There should be consequences if anyone doesn’t recognize anyone in the new family setting.

A final word

Being a member of a blended family can be challenging, especially if there are more kids involved. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to try and approach the situation with a lot of care. Try listening to the kids and letting them know you’ll be there for them every step of the way. If it gets a bit difficult, then don’t hesitate to seek outside help.

Lastly, it’s essential to always remember it gets worse before getting better. Once the children know that the new blended system is meant for them to thrive, they’ll gradually warm up to the idea.

The post 4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent

Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent

Vacationing with your kids should be a highlight of the summer. Whether it’s simply relaxing close to home, seeing different parts of the country or world, or visiting friends and family, vacations are a time for families to connect and make new memories.

The post Vacationing With Your Kids as a Single Parent appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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introducing your kids to your new guy

5 Rules for Introducing Your Kids To Your New Guy After Divorce

introducing your kids to your new guy

 

One of the most common questions divorced parents ask me is: When should I be introducing a new partner to my children? My best answer is to take your time dating after divorce and don’t introduce your new love to your kids if you are dating casually. While it’s normal to seek solace, companionship, and a sexual relationship after a breakup, it’s crucial to take it slow so you can assess whether this relationship is casual or might be permanent.

When Introducing Your Kids to Your New Guy, Timing Is Key

The number-one thing to keep in mind when deciding when to introduce a new partner to your kids is timing after your divorce. What’s the hurry? Even if both of you are in love and seem to have a lot in common, breakups are common and kids get caught in the crossfire. Next, the setting and length of the first introduction is crucial to success. Meeting in an informal setting may help your kids feel more relaxed. Rather than planning a long visit, it’s best to have a brief, casual meeting with few expectations.

Another important consideration when introducing your kids to a new love interest is their age. Truth be told, younger children (under age 10) may feel confused, angry, or sad because they tend to be possessive of their parents. Renowned researcher Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., who conducted a 20-year study of children of divorce, concluded that most children find their parent’s courtship behaviors confusing and strange.

On the other hand, adolescents may appear more accepting of your new partner than younger children, but they may still perceive that person as a threat to your relationship. Dr. Ahrons also found that teenagers may find open affection between their parent and a partner troubling – so go easy on physical contact in front of them. Do you want your teenager to model their behavior after you? If so, you owe it to yourself and your kids to build new relationships thoughtfully.

Introducing a New Partner Can Be Painful If the Kids Are Hoping Their Parents Will Reconcile

I’ve witnessed many new relationships go sour when a partner is introduced to children too quickly. It can cause anguish for everyone – especially children who are probably holding on to the idea that their parents will eventually get back together. It may take time for your children to accept a new person in their life.

For example, Caroline, a 36-year-old teacher, described her new partner Kevin as thoughtful, affectionate, and a great match for her. They had been dating for a little over two months and she was head over heels in love with him. But she began questioning their relationship when her daughter Baylie, age eight, starting complaining about Kevin coming over – especially when his nine-year-old son, Ryan, came along for the visit. She didn’t understand why Baylie didn’t share her enthusiasm for Kevin because he was so perfect for their family.

As Caroline spoke, disappointment was apparent in her voice: “Kevin’s just so ideal for our family and I can really be myself with him. He has a son and is a great dad. I figured that Baylie would like him because he’s a lot of fun and I was blindsided when she started complaining about him.”

During our second session, I asked Caroline if she had thought through any disadvantages of introducing her daughter Baylie to Kevin so soon. She paused and said “not really” and so I asked her to write down a list of pros and cons for her homework assignment. When Caroline arrived for her next session, she reported that she was having second thoughts about whether she had rushed into including Kevin in so many activities with Baylie, and she realized that Baylie was seeing him as a rival for her attention.

Here are the 5 Rules for Introducing Your New Guy to Your Kids

  1. Timing is essential to healthy family adjustment after divorce. Children need time to adjust to their parents’ split and it can take a year or two for them to get over anger, sadness, and other emotions. If you introduce your children to someone who you are dating casually, this may complicate their adjustment to your divorce.
  2. Keep in mind that your kids may view your new love as a rival. Just because you are smitten with your partner, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your positive feelings.
  3. Consider your children’s needs for security and reassurance. Introducing a new partner to your kids too soon can increase stress in the house and take energy away from your kid’s ability to grieve the loss of their intact family. Be sure to give your kids lots of reassurance that you have plenty of love to go around.
  4. Ask yourselfIs my love interest a good fit for my family? After all, you might have great chemistry with someone, but they might not be best suited to become part of your family.
  5. Invite your children’s feedback for ideas about how and when they meet your new partner for the first time. If you’ve been dating someone for a while and feel relatively confident that you are heading toward commitment, talk to your children and explain that you are dating someone who you care about and that you’d like to introduce to them. Ask them if they have any questions. Keep the first meeting short and low key. Going to a restaurant or neutral spot for the first meeting is best. Ask your kids where they’d like to go and don’t invite your partner’s children to join you on the first few visits.

Be sure to be careful about sleepovers with your partner when you have children living with you. It’s not wise to plan an overnight with your new love interest in your home right away because it can increase rivalry between them and your kids. If you co-parent, it should be easy to spend an overnight with them when your children are with your ex. Having your new partner spent the night should only be an option once you are fairly sure that your relationship is permanent or you are engaged.

Let your children know that you have an abundance of love to go around. It’s crucial that you assure your kids that your partner will not replace their other parent or change your relationship with them. Don’t be surprised if your children reject your new partner at first. Some kids express anger or defiance and may even threaten to move out – or go to live with their other parent full-time. Adopt realistic expectations about your children’s acceptance of your new partner. Just because you are enthralled with this person, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your enthusiasm.

Wait Until Your Kids Have Healed from the Divorce Before Introducing Your New Partner

In sum, the key to successful parenting post-divorce is helping your kids heal from your breakup, and introducing them to a new love too soon might complicate, delay, or damage this process. You can simply tell your kids that you’re going out with a new friend and that’s enough information. Consider the amount of time since your divorce, the age of your children, and the level of commitment to your partner. Waiting on introducing a new partner to your kids will pay off for everyone in the long run.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

The post 5 Rules for Introducing Your Kids To Your New Guy After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce

8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce

One of the most important things you can do is to maintain a good relationship with your children during and after the divorce.

The post 8 Life Lessons You Can Teach Your Kids During Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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529

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

529

 

Are a you a single mom who puts the education of your children above your own retirement?

If so, you’re not alone. In a study referenced by Forbes, it was found that half of all single moms put their child’s education as their long-term financial priority, even above saving for their own retirement.

So, a lot of questions arise from the findings of single moms and their financial priorities. Why are divorced moms putting their kids’ college savings first when they are arguably a child’s priority?

Are there options for single moms that allow them to save for retirement and secure their children’s educational future?

What do most financial advisors recommend?

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

Let’s dive in.

Divorced Moms Who Pay for Their Child’s Education Often Do So Out of Guilt

The above referenced study found that single parents are more likely to feel an obligation to help their adult children financially than traditional parents.

Often, single mom’s feel guilty about the divorce, not being able to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like (due to balancing careers), and because they want to give their child one less thing to think about in their future as they feel they have scarred them through the divorce.

So, what are the options for single moms to explore for a solid retirement and college savings balance?

Balancing Retirement and Your Kid’s College Fund

Most financial advisors would recommend that your retirement planning should come before that of your child. A couple of key reasons for this include the fact that retirement does not benefit from any federal loans whereas there are several ways to finance college. Further, tax breaks for investments are more generous than those for college savings, but there are ways to impactfully save for both.

What are the Best Options for College Savings?

Many single moms begin to consider their IRAs when thinking of ways to strategically pay for the education of their children. Turns out there is a much better way to save for both, and the college route generally involves what is called a 529 plan.

529 plans are qualified tuition plans and are tax-advantaged savings plans specifically designed for education-based saving. You have the option of two plans, depending on your ideal situation.

The first is prepaid tuition plans. These allow account holders to buy credits at participating educational institutions for the child’s future tuition.

The second college savings plan allows account holders to open an investment account that operates more like a traditional interest-bearing account, except directly aimed at educational savings.

Some of the benefits of a 529 plan include:

  • No dollar limit on contributions
  • You can use 529 plans to pay for elementary, middle, high school, or college
  • The ability to withdrawal the amount of any earned scholarships penalty-free
  • Protection from creditors in the event of a civil lawsuit, bankruptcy, etc.

Are there any negatives of a 529 for college savings?

There are some negatives to 529 plans. For starters, you can’t take income tax deductions for contributions, meaning you must pay federal taxes on the funds before adding them to the account. Another negative that is similar to many federal retirement plans is that you will be penalized if you withdrawal from the 529 account and don’t use the money for qualified education-based expenses.

What if My Child is Already College Age and I Don’t Have Savings?

While most financial planners would never recommend planning to use an IRA for college, there are some scenarios where it may be the only option. For example, if the divorced parent has not had time to contribute to a 529 plan, their sole option for helping their child may be to use their IRA.

The good news is that there are exceptions for IRA deductions specifically used for education expenses where no penalties will be incurred. This means you may be able to withdraw IRA earnings penalty-free, but not tax-free when you use the money for college.

This option, while not recommended, is ideal for single moms who have not planned on funding their retirement and saving for college.

In the perfect situation, a divorced mom will have multiple accounts set up to contribute to both their own retirement as well as the education of their children.

The post A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce

Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce

The best way to help children to adjust to your move after a divorce, is to inform him or her that you’ll do your best to keep your relationship the same. Also, reassure them of your love and devotion and say that you’ll visit as often as possible.

The post Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support

Of the many items divorced couples need to figure out — such as who gets the house, who keeps the expensive wedding gifts, calculating child support, and more — perhaps the most important decisions revolve around the kids Depending on their ages, they may or may not understand what’s going on, and, regardless, it will be a difficult transition for them as well.

The post There is More to Taking Care of Kids Than Calculating Child Support appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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