FAMILY PHOTOS ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

My parents separated when I was 19, Dad moved on with his new lady, I saw him twice over the next 20 years.  He passed away unexpectedly and when we asked his ‘wife’ if we could have his photos she declined.  I have two photos of my dad, no family photos including photos of my childhood.

Divorced or divorcing parents take a moment to read this.

Guest post by Rosalind Sedacca 
I read a poignant comment on a blog recently written by a married mother of three. She was a child of divorce whose father moved out of the home when she was four. She talks about having very few pictures of herself as a child and only one of her mother and father together. Her grandfather found and gave her the photo just a few years ago. She framed it and has proudly displayed it in her home for her own children to see.

She explains how special that one photo of her with Mom and Dad is to her. It shows a little girl sitting happily on a lawn with her “real” family – before the divorce.

This woman grieves that she has no other photographs of her father and so few pictures of her childhood. She assumes that her mother hid or destroyed all other photos, “possibly to protect my stepparents’ feelings” as she moved on into other chapters in her life.

She goes on to send a message to all divorced parents who are transitioning into blended families. She stresses the importance of keeping previous family photographs to give to your children at the appropriate time – and not throwing them away. She implores people who are marrying men or women with children to “be the grownup” and acknowledge that children of divorce have other relationships that are meaningful and important to them.

Having pictures, gifts and other reminders of the non-custodial parent is very important to your children. We must never forget the connection and allegiance children innately feel toward both of their parents. When one parent is dismissed, put down or disrespected by the other parent, a part of your child is hurt as a result. They also feel that a part of themselves is flawed which creates much internal confusion.

Allow your children to keep their connection with their other parent – and with their past, unless they choose otherwise. If you’re a step-parent, don’t try to replace the birth Mom or Dad. There is room in a child’s heart to embrace and love you, as well, if you earn their trust and respect. You can’t demand or force it.

The woman’s blog post ends by asking us to imagine how we would feel if someone came into our family and discarded all the photos of Mom and Dad together. If we could just put ourselves into our children’s shoes on a regular basis we would avoid so many errors in parenting, and so many psychological scars.

This woman speaks for millions of children of divorce and her message needs to be heard. It’s also another validation for the concept of creating a family storybook when telling your children about the divorce. Showing the kids photos of the family together, during happier times in the past, reminds them that life moves in cycles and there will be good times ahead. It also shows them that they came from love and that love still exists for them – even if Mom and Dad are no longer living together.

Even if you’re long past the actual divorce, looking through family photo albums can spark conversation and sincere communication between you and your children.

Yes, it might bring up some tears and sadness, but talking about those feelings can be healing for everyone. You can also start new photo albums sharing happy times in the present so you can look back upon this chapter in your lives with smiles in the months and years to come. Isn’t this what you want for your family?

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
© Rosalind Sedacca  All Rights Reserved

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DIVORCE IS TOUGH – EVEN TOUGHER ON TEENS!

Guest Post By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

We all know divorce is tough on families. Everyone is affected, especially the children. In most cases, the older the children, the more complex the reaction and more difficult the adaptation. There are many reasons why.

Older children have a longer history in the former family unit, regardless of how healthy or toxic it has been. Perhaps they remember better times when Mom and Dad interacted with them and each other with more joy and harmony. Even if there were no good times to look back upon, older children were accustomed to the existing family dynamic, knew their place in the structure, and felt a sense of comfort in “what is.”

Resisting change is a natural part of being human. For teenagers that resistance is compounded by a tendency to test boundaries and rock the status quo. Divorce or separation naturally makes all children feel powerless over their circumstances. For teens, who are feeling their oats and less likely to listen to parental authority, this is especially hard to accept.

Teens are also more judgmental and opinionated than younger children. Consequently they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce (as younger kids frequently do) and more apt to take sides and blame one of their parents. Many therapists see teens side with the parent who is more permissive, taking advantage of the weakened parental structure to try to get away with more rebellious behaviors. Some teens choose to side with the more powerful parent – often Dad – to bolster their sense of security, even if they were emotionally closer to Mom.

Anger is a common reaction from older children. If they are not given the opportunity to vent, express their feelings and be heard, this anger often manifests as physical rebellion, drug or alcohol abuse or other inappropriate behaviors. To complicate matters, communication is often more difficult with teens who are acting out because they are usually less talkative, more likely to keep their feelings held in and more moody than their younger siblings.

With this in mind, how can parents bridge this communication and credibility gap with their older children? Amy Sherman, a therapist in private practice who has dealt extensively with troubled teen populations, makes these suggestions:

1. Make your family a democracy. That means opening the door to listening to and “hearing” your older children, even if you don’t like what they are saying. Kids need to know they can express themselves without being disciplined or made wrong. At the same time, she warns against being too permissive which inevitably leads to exploitation from teens who are always testing their boundaries.

2. Whenever possible, both Mom and Dad should talk to the teen together, discussing issues as honestly as is appropriate. All children are natural manipulators. Don’t let separation or divorce give them the opportunity to divide and conquer. Mom and Dad talking to the kids together, on the same page regarding family rules and values, is your best insurance for keeping older children as allies. Co-parenting after the divorce is your optimum goal. When that is not possible, keeping both parents in their parental roles goes a long way toward maintaining stability within a transforming family structure.

3. Children need and actually appreciate structure, even teens. It creates the security they crave, especially at challenging times. Try to maintain boundaries as close to the pre-divorce reality as possible. When both parents share basic guidelines and agreements within the family structure, regardless of which house the children are in, they will feel safer and more secure. Your children will also feel more cared about and loved which is vitally important as the family moves into unknown changes and transitions.

Remember, children of all ages mirror what they see. If your children are acting out, look within the family system for the cause. Get the help you need in making internal changes, and they are more likely to follow suit. At the same time, be patient, tolerant and understanding with yourself and everyone else within your family. This too shall pass!

* * *

Rosalind Sedacca’s acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! 

 

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WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR PARTNER IS NAMED ON ASHLEY MADISON

Before I address the question, what do you do if your partner is named on Ashley Madison, or any other website hack for that matter, I have to say that once again the media has shown it’s very ugly side. Completely disrespecting peoples privacy with little or absolutely no regard for the hundreds if not thousands of men, women and children who will have their lives turned upside down because of the way this whole situation has been managed.

As part of my research for writing this blog I did listen to the radio interview of the woman who volunteered to find out if her husband was on the list as he was acting ‘funny’ about the news of the hack. My guess is that her own intuition had been alerting her to ‘something’ beforehand as well and she willingly volunteered her husbands’ details to these radio jocks. They searched for his name and told her ‘yes’ he was on this site. She left herself wide open to hear the worst thing that any women would ever want to hear, let alone so publicly. Private information that was stolen by criminals used to contribute to destroying the lives and relationships of so many people by thoughtless, ignorant pieces of shit! And yes, people willing gave their personal information to an obviously risqué site with obviously no thought of the possible consequences.

I’m not going to be all ‘fluffly’ about how you might be able to work through this, or everyone makes mistakes and deserves another chance and some such crap because as I try to imagine myself in this situation I see it as a very different experience from someone’s husband who becomes infatuated with a younger woman in the office or at the gym or number of other reasons that infidelity results in the end of a relationship.

If anyone reading this blog has found themselves caught up in this whole nightmare, or knows someone who has, here are a few of my thoughts on how to handle this as best you can.

  • Only speak to the people closest to you who you know you can trust.
  • Don’t take any calls from other family and friends for several weeks and never from the media. The gossipmongers will be out in force and happily feed you more and more drama.
  • Call a ‘timeout’ with your partner, perhaps a week or two, for you to recover from the shock and anger that will be raging through your veins.
  • You will be asking yourself all sorts of questions that start with ‘Why,’ and you will be feeling ashamed and embarrassed to seen in public by your friends and family.
  • Then it comes time to sit down with your partner and get the facts on exactly what has and has not taken place, leaving no room for further lies or deceit from them. The game is up anyway so they have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain by being honest and forthcoming by providing you with as much information as you need.

Your particular situation and what happens next will of course be decided by one or both or you and no-one else, only you can ever know what is right for you and for your family.

This is going to be one hell of a journey so please ensure that you have only the very best people around you. People who will help you maintain your equilibrium and will always have your best interests a heart.

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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THE TOP TEN PARENTING CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LESS STRESSFUL DIVORCE

Most separating parents are very concerned about how divorce affects their kids whoever far too many underestimate the real impact of divorce on children, teenagers and adult children as well.

In Australia nearly half of divorces involve children under the age of 18 years of age and these are the ones who suffer the most into adulthood.

Anyone who believes that their children will be unaffected by their divorce may be surprised to know that ALL children of divorce suffer emotional wounds. The question is never whether they will be hurt the question is how badly will they be hurt?

The responsibility for how badly they will be hurt comes back to the people who love and care for them the most – their parents! Are they prepared to put their differences to one side, avoid having heated discussions within earshot of their kids, talk openly about the divorce giving their kids reassurances that they haven’t done anything wrong, that it’s not their fault and speaking respectfully about the other parent in front of the children.

In an ideal world separating parents would finalise the divorce quickly and amicably to avoid dragging their children through an emotional battleground and have plans in place to keep any major upheavals, like living arrangements, school routines and social activities to a minimum. Of course we don’t live in an ideal world and the reality is that many kids are involved, not just in the separation and divorce phase but the ongoing disputes, arguments and conflicts that many parents engage in as co-parents giving very little thought to how this is impacting on their children. They get blinded by anger, resentment, hatred and revenge and are hell bent on hurting, harming or demeaning their former spouse.

When couples are really struggling with their own issues and concerns about the future, how they will divide property, possessions and finances it becomes all consuming and emotionally charged.

As the adults in this situation you do have the power to put your differences to one side and focus on giving your children the reassurances they need so desperately need. They are loved, this is not their fault and that they will still be a family but doing it differently from how it used to be.

Before I share my tips to help parents make the separation and divorce process less stressful please don’t assume that your kids will OK with the whole thing because they just want you to be happy! I have heard that said so many times and if thinking that makes you feel better and that your kids won’t have any problems with the family splitting then think again. Yes our kids want us to be happy, but what they really what is for their parents to be happy together and the family unit to stay the same. I’m not suggesting for one minute that couples stay together just for the kids, what I am saying is look at this massive change in their lives through the eyes of a child, teenager or adult it doesn’t matter how old they are.

Here are my top ten parenting considerations for a less stressful divorce

    1. At least one parent, preferably both, is prepared to put aside personal issues and focus on discussing and agreeing on the wellbeing of their children in the short and long term
    2. Seek help from professionals to get advice and guidance when there is conflict around decisions or arrangements that will affect your children. An independent third party will provide a different perspective and allow you to find solutions you hadn’t previously considered
    3. Sit down with your children together on a regular basis to reassure them that although there are going to be changes in their lives you will always be there for them. They will want details of what is happening and how it will affect them
    4. Be honest with them about any changes as they arise so they have time to talk about them with you both and express any fears and concerns they might have
    5. Accept that you will not always agree with how your ex parents ‘your’ kids or like the fact that a new partner now has a role in parenting you kids. This is one of the most difficult challenges for many separated parents
    6. If possible both parents attend special events like birthdays, school and social activities, and other events together. Your kids will love that you are both there ‘for them.’ There will come a time when they will be getting married and having children themselves and it is what you do now that will ensure it’s a very special part of their lives that you can both share
    7. Just because you and your partner are divorcing from each other does not mean that your children are too. They have a right to love and spend time equally with both parents, their grandparents and extended families as well
    8. Be careful how you speak about your former partner in front of your children. Take some time to think about how you would like your ex to speak about you in front of your kids and even if that is not happening, then remember that you are role models for your kids, and your behaviour and actions will always speak louder than anything else you will ever do
    9. Never use your kids as a means to get revenge for hurts inflicted on you by your former partner. All too often kids are used as bargaining tools in situations where there is absolutely no winner
    10. Life is constantly changing, often challenging and rarely goes according to plan but when we remember the good times we shared as a family and cherish these memories it might just make a difference in how we write the next chapter in our lives

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is to via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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TIPS FROM STEPHEN COVEY

Following on from the previous post Stephen Covey today we are talking all about the Six Major Deposits.

Understanding the Individual
Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit.  What might be a deposit for you – going for a walk to talk things over might not be perceived by someone else as a deposit at all.   U
nderstand them deeply as individuals, the way you would want to be understood and then to treat them in terms of that understanding.

Attending to the Little Things
The little kindnesses and courtesies are so important.  Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals.  In relationships, the big things are the little things.

Keeping Commitments
Keeping commitments or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.  In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through.

Clarifying Expectations
Unclear expectations in the area of goals also undermine communication and trust.  The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.  Clarifying expectations sometimes takes a great deal of courage.  It seems easier to act as though differences don’t exist and to hope things work out than it is to face the differences and work together to arrive at a mutually agreeable set of expectations.

Showing Personal Integrity
Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty.
Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words – in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life.  If you treat everyone by the same set of principles people will come to trust you.  However they may not at first appreciate the honest confrontational experiences such integrity might generate.  It is said that to be trusted is greater than to be loved.  In the long run, I am convinced, to be trusted will be also to be loved.

Apologising Sincerely When You Make A Withdrawal
It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity.
A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologise.

Leo Roskin taught, “It is the weak who are cruel. Softness can only be expected from the strong.”

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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THE EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT

I have previously mentioned the passing of Stephen Covey and one of his books ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

This book had a big impact on me the first time I read it and still continues to teach me something new every time I read it.

Many of you have indicated that you would love to have the man of your dreams in your life and rightly so, this is in my opinion what we all deserve so I would like to share with you what he has written on what he calls ‘The Emotional Bank Account’.

Particularly for those of you who are spending time thinking deeply about the qualities and traits you would love to have in a man. What he writes is applicable to all our relationships, with our children, our family, our friends and our work colleagues.

It begins like this..

As we look back and survey the terrain to determine where we’ve been and where we are in relationship to where we are going we clearly see that we could not have gotten where we are without coming the way we came.  The landscape is covered with the fragments of broken relationships of people who have tried.  They have tried to jump into effective relationships without the maturity, the strength of character, to maintain them.  But you just can’t ‘do it’, you simply have to travel the road.  You can’t be successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself.

He shares a conversation with a man who was at one of his seminars, “You know Stephen I really don’t enjoy coming to these seminars.”  “Look at this beautiful coastline and the sea out there and all I can do is sit and worry about the grilling I’m going to get from my wife tonight on the phone.  She gives me the third degree every time I’m away.  “Was I in meeting all morning? What did I do in the evening?  Who was I with? and so on..  Then he said rather timidly,  “I guess she knows all the questions to ask, it was at a seminar like this that I met her…when I was married to someone else.”

Stephen said, “My friend, you can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.”
” You can’t have the fruits without the roots.”
“It’s the principle of sequencing, Private Victory precedes Public Victory.”
“Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.”
“If you don’t know yourself you can’t control yourself, it’s very hard to like yourself except in some short-term, psych-up, superficial way.”

The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but who we are.

If our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques rather than from our own inner core others will sense the duplicity.

The place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our own circle of influence, our own character.

He then uses ‘The Emotional Bank Account’ as a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.  If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account  through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you I build up a reserve.  Your trust towards me becomes higher and others can call upon that trust many times if they need to.  When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective.

However if I have a habit of showing disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, threatening you or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn.  Now it’s tension city.  It’s protecting my backside.

Many organisations are filled with it.
Many families are filled with it and
Many marriages are filled with it.

If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage will deteriorate.  Instead of rich, spontaneous understanding and communication, the situation becomes one of accommodation, where two people simply attempt to live independent life-styles in a fairly respectful and tolerant way.  The relationship may further deteriorate to one of hostility, fight or flight, verbal battles in a cold war at home sustained only by children, sex, social pressure or image protection. Or it may end up in open warfare in the courts where bitter legal battles can be carried on for years .

We are talking here about the most intimate, the most potentially rich, joyful and satisfying and productive relationship possible between two people on this earth.  Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits.

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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