Category Archives: Blended Families

Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home (Guest: Christy Monson)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkAuthor and retired family therapist, Christy Monson, shares why quality communication within the family is so very important today. We present “Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home.”

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CMonsonphotoEveryone’s in a rush today. It seems that authentic and meaningful communication with others is a vanishing skill. Even handwritten letters have given way to quick emails, quicker texts and hasty tweets.

Few of us have enough time to spend meaningfully with others, and it probably shows.

Families Aren’t Immune

Families are not immune to this “abbreviation” of communication. In many instances, loved ones needing our presence, our time, our words and our support don’t get nearly enough. Oh, families remain intact, but without the strength and bonding that could be there. This is most realized when an emergency or difficult circumstance affects the family.

According to our guest on this program, retired therapist and author Christy Monson, families that focus on becoming synergistic, and put the work into making it happen, not only handle the tough times better, bonds within the family grow stronger and stronger.

A Family Council

Giving a Child Too Much Power, Christy MonsonOne important activity of synergism is the family meeting, or Family Council. When family meetings are scheduled, and the time and effort for having them are honored, children learn how their presence and input matters. They learn the facts of family finances and how to set and realize goals. And they learn that conflicts and problems can be resolved, because walking away is not an option. Indeed, family meetings can teach dozens of insights and skills that children can practice for a lifetime.

In this program, Christy discusses the benefits and payoffs of synergistic families, and she takes us through the steps of establishing, conducting and maintaining the Family Council. Her experience and personal examples will make it meaningful.

Christy Monson

Christy has authored many books and articles that support and strengthen individuals and families. In this program we’re featuring her book, Family Talk: How to Organize Family Meetings and Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships. (27:48)

http://www.ChristyMonson.com

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10th Anniversary of International Child-Centered Divorce Month (Guest: Rosalind Sedacca, CDC)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkIt was a joy once again for me to visit with Rosalind about the important work of those advocating child-centered divorce. From an idea to a worldwide mission, Rosalind has steered a steady course over the years, and the positive impact has been noted in the lives of young people. But there’s plenty of work yet to do, so listen in as we bring you “10th Anniversary of International Child-Centered Divorce Month.” –JDS

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10th Anniversary of International Child-Centered Divorce Month, Rosalind Sedacca

International Child-Centered Divorce Month

January has been established as International Child-Centered Divorce Month. January of 2017 is the 10th anniversary of ICCDM and its outreach in helping parents, therapists, attorneys, educators, mediators and other divorce specialists focus on the needs of children and teens when divorce plans are being made.

Many free resources and gifts related to child-centered divorce are being offered during International Child-Centered Divorce Month. You won’t want to miss a single part of this excellent opportunity.

To help us understand more clearly the importance and methodology of child-centered divorce is our special guest, Rosalind Sedacca, Certified Divorce Coach and the Voice of Child-Centered Divorce. Rosalind will emphasize, using her own story, why the needs of children should be a priority in divorce, how best to explain divorce to one’s own children and why a child-centered, collaborative approach is so important.

International Child-Centered Divorce Month, Child-Centered Divorce Network

Rosalind Sedacca

Rosalind is the author of an innovative storybook approach to communicating divorce to a child, an approach that informs while it supports and upholds a youngster’s identity, dignity and sense of value. Her diligence and effort resulted in a successful and highly acclaimed e-book entitled, How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children –With Love.

Rosalind’s work with the Child-Centered Divorce Network, which she founded, has been acknowledged on five continents worldwide. In her speaking, writing, blogging and media appearances, Rosalind continues to share the message of child-centered divorce. The International Child-Centered Divorce Month is yet another way to showcase what is being done. The link below takes you to the website and a free e-book from Rosalind, Post Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right. (29:09)

www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook

 

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Building Character Using Analogies from Nature (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter counts, and it always will. Barbara Lewis, nationally acclaimed educator and author of Building Character with True Stories from Nature, shares some excellent ways to teach principles of character using examples from animals and plants. From our archives we present, “Building Character Using Analogies from Nature.”

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Sometimes the best lessons in life are best NOT taught directly. Telling Tommy how he needs to be more helpful like his sister might only create resentment toward her with no change in his willingness to help others. So how do we effectively encourage desired behaviors and habits in youngsters like Tommy?

Teaching Positive Character Traits

Our guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, will show us a better way to emphasize and teach positive character traits by using analogies, true stories from the behaviors of animals (and even plants).

Since children are naturally drawn to stories and to animals, they not only attend to these analogies, they are stimulated to exercise higher-level thinking skills and, best of all, apply the message. Result: Moral development is enhanced, and youngsters are motivated to create positive changes in a natural and comfortable way.

Listen in as Barbara shares some stimulating and intriguing examples of what animals and plants can teach us about character.

Barbara A. Lewis

Barbara has earned national acclaim and many honors and awards for her work as a teacher and as an author. She encourages youngsters to apply their skills in solving real problems. In fact, while Barbara was a teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City, her students were deeply involved in numerous civic and environmental projects, garnering ten national awards, including two presentations of the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Prominent print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, Family Circle, “CBS World News” and CNN, have featured Barbara and her work. The book we are featuring, written for parents and educators, is Building Character with True Stories from Nature. The book is published by Free Spirit Publishing. (26:22)

www.BarbaraALewis.com

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How to Be A Great Parent (Guest: Dr. Nancy Buck)

Dr. Nancy Buck, Peaceful ParentingThere is plenty of evidence to show that the brain processes negative factors quicker, longer and with more gusto than it processes the positive. We tend not to reflect on things that are going well, but just look at what we do when events and circumstances cause us concern.

What does this mean regarding how we communicate with our children and students? Answer: Just about EVERYTHING. Welcome to “How to Be a Great Parent.”

A Clash of Priorities

According to our guest on this program, developmental psychologist Dr. Nancy Buck, we want our kids to be SAFE. Our children, however, want to have FUN. These distinctly different priorities can clash into conflict. (It happens often, doesn’t it?) Nancy will show us how our typical responses in these situations can take a toll. In the process of unintended difficulty, relationships suffer.

How to Be a Great Parent, Nancy Buck

Understanding Wants and Needs

In this fast-paced and stimulating program, Nancy provides the research and rationale for better understanding a child’s wants and needs, as well as methods for redirecting youngsters in ways that are more successful and more pleasant. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

Dr. Nancy Buck

Dr. Nancy Buck is the founder of Peaceful Parenting, Inc. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today, and she’s an in-demand speaker and presenter on the topic of effective parenting. Nancy is the author of the acclaimed book, Peaceful Parenting, as well as a just-released work, How to be a Great Parent: Understanding Your Child’s Wants and Needs. (29:17)

htpp://www.peacefulparenting.com

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The Joys and Challenges of Foster Parenting (Dr. John DeGarmo)

Dr. John DeGarmoIt would be difficult for us to ever fully realize and understand the value of foster parents. Their contributions are ongoing reminders of the resilience of the human spirit and the impact of love, support and assurance when it is needed most. Indeed, there are many successful men and women who were raised in foster families. This program is about the joys and challenges of foster parenting.

It’s a serious thing to remove a child or teen from their biological home, yet circumstances can dictate just that. Through no fault of their own, youngsters’ lives can be changed dramatically as they are placed with a foster family, for not to move them could expose them to serious, even life-threatening, physical and emotional risk.

Although folks who have “been there” will tell you the blessings of being a foster parent outweigh the troubles, it’s understandable how a child or teen going into foster placement might not be happy about it. Patience, insight, understanding, and sometimes a pretty thick skin are needed to help these kids find their footing on a better road. So, according to our guest on this program, foster parent and foster parenting expert, Dr. John DeGarmo, being a foster parent takes a substantial amount of grit in addition to love and compassion.

Fostering Love, Dr. John DeGarmoIn this program, Dr. John explains the nature and process of foster parenting, and he freely shares some of the ups and downs he and his wife, Kelly, have experienced in their 12 years as foster parents. He also discusses some of the behaviors and characteristics of youngsters coming into foster placement (especially for the first time), and how they are best addressed. (These could include hoarding of food, boundary issues, poor school performance, difficulty with conflict, problems in exercising trust and fear of rejection.) Dr. John also shows how we all can best assist foster children and their foster families.

Dr. John travels extensively, speaking and training on foster care. He also hosts a weekly radio show, Foster Talk with Dr. John, and he’s the author of a number of books on foster care. In this program, we’re featuring one that has been especially well-received, Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent. (28:50)

http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com

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Your GPS for “Perfect” Parenting (Kirsten Siggins)

perfect parenting, institute of curiosity, family values, Kirsten Siggins

Being a parent these days is tough. So often I coach people who find their life as parents to be overwhelming. In our hyper-connected world of smartphones and social media, society has created an image of perfection in aspects of our lives, including how we are ‘supposed to’ show up as parents, which very few feel they are able to achieve. This societal expectation can create impossible challenges for many, leaving a wake of frustration, anger, judgment, shame, and even blame. I think we can all agree being a parent is hard enough and no one welcomes the pressures of trying to achieve “perfect” parenting.

Curiosity is at the Core

So what can we strive for as parents? At the Institute of Curiosity, we believe curiosity is at the core of being the best parent you can possibly be, whatever that looks like for you. Each of us, based on our upbringing, experiences and education can use curiosity to better understand ourselves and understand others, which supports us in being a better, stronger and happier self.

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and like conflict, it begins with our values. When you have clarity around your personal values, you can co-create family values that will help you navigate the challenges of being a parent. This also helps your family in conflict! Developing joint values around parenting supports a unified approach when dealing with issues with your kids. These values create a GPS for you to stay focused in all aspects of your lives including challenges that arise for your family and help you align with your vision of ‘perfect’ parenting.

3 Steps to Creating Your GPS for Perfect’ Parenting

1. Identify and define your values. Get curious to understand what’s non-negotiable for you. Ask yourself right now, “what are my values?” If you don’t know, that’s OK and it is time to start exploring them. Explore them personally and with your partner. As you explore them, it is important to define what they mean to you as we all define our values differently.

For example, adventure may be the movies for one and skydiving for another. Until you are clear on what adventure means to you it is difficult to live in alignment. Once you are clear on your values, you will gain clarity around what holds importance for you, what the non-negotiable are in your life. You will also gain that same clarity around your partner and how you want to show up together as parents. If you need some help exploring your values, check out a step by step process here: http://www.instituteofcuriosity.com/what-do-you-value-what-you-need-to-know-to-be-successful/

2. Identify your family values. What holds importance for you as a family? Working with your partner and kids, using the same steps as above, identify and define your family values. Once defined, clarity will be gained around how you and your family want to navigate life together. These values will support your kids in how they behave, make decision and manage expectations. Family values will also support you as a parent navigating the many challenges with continuity, and create consistency your kids can rely on. These values will also come in handy when in conflict!

The Power of Curiosity, curious questions, staying curiousAs an example, let’s say safety is a family value. Your teen wants to go to a party and you are concerned about their safety, you don’t want them to go. Rather than an all out war of “I am going/ No you aren’t” you can use that value as the focal point of your conversation when discussing the party to learn about your teen and their approach to the party. It could sound like: ‘Safety is one of our family values and we wonder, how do you plan to ensure you are safe while at this party? What strategies do you have in mind if you find yourself in a situation where your safety could be at risk?” Questions like these take the focus off you and your teen so you can both focus on your joint value of safety. Together you can decide if strategies need to be developed to ensure safety in order for your teen to attend the party.

3. Stay open and curious. As you discuss what is important to each other ensure that you stay open and ask curious questions to learn (focus on questions beginning with WHAT & HOW). We are each unique and just because you are a family, it doesn’t mean you all value the same things OR define your values the same way. Your definition of safety may be very different than your child’s, making it difficult to align and cause conflict. Be present to listen to your kids and spouse as they discuss what they value and how they define that. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but it does allow you to better understand their perspective and experiences, and creates a framework that helps each family member make choices in their every day interactions.

This navigation system ensures you stay the course and support each family member in the challenges that present themselves each day. Sounds pretty perfect, right?

For more tips and tools to stay curious & connected, even in conflict, visit: www.instituteofcuriosity.com

Kathy Taberner & Kirsten Siggins are a mother/daughter communication consulting team with a focus on curiosity and founders of the Institute Of Curiosity. Their book, The Power Of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding (Morgan James 2015), gives parents or leaders (or both) the skills and the method to stay curious and connected in all conversations, even in conflict.

 

The Harder You Work, The Bigger the Snowman (Michael Byron Smith)

There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

Mahatma Gandhi

It starts around October. People, almost exclusively adults, start complaining about the onset of winter. I understand their point of view. Their focus centers on being cold, dealing with icy roads and often dreary weather. I don’t like those things either, but not enough to worry or complain about them.

Few of us have to be in the cold air longer than it takes to walk from our toasty car to our toasty home or office, at least not often. Slippery roads are a nuisance, but where I live in the Midwest, there may be only 10-15 days all winter when the roads are seriously snowy or icy for part of a day. In more northern states, they really know how to deal with their more frequent snowy days and they do it efficiently. There isn’t much you can do about dreary days, but I’ve seen dreary days in every season. With those realities said, I believe any adult that doesn’t like winter has the right to complain about it or move to a warmer climate. But it is also my opinion that children who are raised in areas that have seasons are advantaged in experiences and learning.

Cardinal in WInterNow I admit that winter comes in last in my list of favorite seasons. Spring, fall, summer, then winter is how I rank the seasons. But I LOVE seasons! In winter, I thoroughly enjoy watching the snow fall while I sit by a fire. And there is certainly beauty in winter if simply a red cardinal resting on a branch with a snowy background.

One of my favorite sensations ever was at my farmhouse in the country, waking in the morning after a heavy snowfall had blanketed the earth the night before. The wind was completely still in the bright morning sunshine. I walked outside and it was the most profound silence I have ever experienced. It was as if the snow had muffled every possible sound, except the squeaky sound of my boots sinking in the snow. The scene was truly a Norman Rockwell painting.

I accept winter and look for those experiences that only winter can provide. This brings me back to children. You rarely hear them complain about winter. They pray for snow and run around outside so much they don’t get cold. When they come in, a little hot chocolate will put the exclamation point on a fun and memorable kid experience. I have many memories of playing outside with friends, coming in with my hands so numb that the cold water from the tap felt warm, and I loved it!

You can join in the fun with them. Have a snowball fight or take them on a hike in the woods. The exercise and cooler weather make it comfortable and invigorating with views no longer obstructed with leaves. And you can sneak in a few life lessons occasionally using tricky little metaphors that may stick with them longer than a boring lecture.

Teachable Moments in Winter
Build a snowman with your children. Maybe you can have a competition for the best snowman. The teachable moment may be, ‘the more you work on your snowman the bigger and better he will be–just like anything else you will ever do’. But working hard isn’t the entire answer to success. You have to work smart also. It’s impossible to make a good snowman with very dry snow, even if you work very hard at it. With a little patience, a warmer sunny day will melt the snow wet enough to be able to build your snowman. The teachable moment: Patience and smarts will often save you a lot of time and effort with better results.

Go sledding with your children. Find a nice long hill and feel the thrill of zooming down. If they want to ride down again, they will have to trudge up the hill. The first ride down is free, after that they will have to work to experience it again. Going down is easy. Going up is work! The teachable moment: Nothing worthwhile is really free. There is always effort required by someone. The only ones who sled down for free are those that don’t have the strength and need the help of others to get back on top. Which of those would you rather be?

Not only are there life lessons to teach, but there are science lessons that will be remembered when they are in school. Take your children ice skating. Skating is best when there is very little friction, allowing them to glide effortlessly. But when they need to stop, they want some of that friction back so they dig into the ice. Friction is like fire. It can save your life or ruin it. How people use it makes all the difference!

Some history lessons can be best expressed in the winter. The strength of our forefathers and ancestors can be demonstrated, when there were no furnaces to warm them up with a push of a button; or when their home was a teepee or mud hut. No snowplows helped them out. Grocery stores were rarely nearby and food had to be grown or hunted. Traveling for just thirty miles would take half a day or more and the only heat was from the horse if you were lucky enough to have one. Not until one thinks about how tough conditions were for others in the past will they understand and appreciate the fortune they have today.

But maybe the most important of all these moments, whether you stop to teach or not, is to be actively engaged with your children, having fun, creating everlasting memories, and making connections to them that will serve both you and them forever. I already mentioned a couple of winter activities, but there are others you can enjoy with your kids including baking things together, movie nights, reading books, crafts, snowball fights, going to sporting events, and so much more.

Take advantage of every opportunity
I wish everyone a great winter season! Make the best of every day no matter the season, and never miss a chance for a teachable moment for your children. And for you older folks out there who hate winter, just think about how fast time passes for us! It’ll be spring before you know it; the recent contrast of winter causing it to be even more appreciated. I can almost see the tulips and crocuses popping through the ground already. Another teachable moment! ###

Article and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
“Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog

 

Recognizing January as Child-Centered Divorce Month (Interview with Rosalind Sedacca)

What is International Child-Centered Divorce Month?

ICCD Month is dedicated to alerting parents about the effects of divorce on children – and how to prevent emotional and psychological damage to children during and after a divorce.

RSedaccaPhotoIn recognition of International Child-Centered Divorce Month divorce experts around the world will be providing free ebooks, video programs, coaching services, teleseminars and other gifts to divorcing and divorced or separated parents throughout January.

What is the purpose of ICCD Month?

More divorces get initiated in January, following the holiday season, than in any other month. That’s why as a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, I chose January to commemorate International Child-Centered Divorce Month every year. ICCD Month is dedicated to alerting parents about the harm to their children when divorce isn’t handled effectively. Repeated studies show that it isn’t divorce per se that damages children. It’s the mistakes that unaware parents make before, during and after divorce that does the harm.

Our purpose is education and mistake prevention. We want to encourage mediation instead of damaging litigation, respectful co-parenting, effective communication skills, and guide parents away from common mistakes that scar children, teens and adult children of divorce.

This is accomplished by providing content-rich products and services that inform and enlighten – all free!

Who are the Expert participants?

Intl Child-Centered Divorce Month logo - newDivorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, financial planners, coaches, educators and other professionals on four continents will be participating. Their goal is to promote peaceful divorce, cooperative co-parenting, and educating parents about how to prevent negative consequences for children affected by separation or divorce.

These family-focused divorce experts from around the world will be joining us to bring a heightened awareness to parents about their responsibility to their children’s well-being before, during and after divorce. They will do this by offering complimentary gifts as well as teleseminars and other events for divorcing and divorced parents.

What’s being offered this year?

Participating experts are providing valuable advice and insights about parenting effectively during and long after divorce — available in several digital formats: ebooks, videos, audio programs, coaching services and more – all free of charge! Just select as many gifts as you desire and click the link to download each one.

How does ICCD Month help children and teens?

We can never overemphasize how parental decisions about divorce can affect and scar children – for years – and often for a lifetime. Our resounding message to divorcing parents is: Regardless of your own emotional state, it is essential to put your children’s needs first when making decisions related to divorce or separation! Often that means letting go of anger and resentment in favor of co-operative co-parenting so your children aren’t robbed of their childhood.

My goal is to catch divorcing parents before they make mistakes they will regret when it comes to their children’s emotional wellbeing. By bringing the world’s legal, therapeutic and educational communities together we can reach out with messages designed to encourage peaceful divorce outcomes. Too many parents divorcing today don’t realize that they have many reasonable choices and viable options for parenting after divorce. They don’t have to walk the path we too often see in the headlines. Cooperative co-parenting and harmonious divorces are not only possible; they’re the direction to choose if you want to minimize the negative effects of divorce on everyone in the family.

How can our readers participate?

The Child-Centered Divorce Network has created a special website where parents can access all the valuable gifts by simply clicking links. The website will be available throughout January at http://www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

Just enter your email address on the sign-up page and you’ll get my free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting. Then click on the GIFT page to download as many complimentary gifts as you desire from divorce experts around the globe.

What else is available at the ICCD Website?

Parents can also find listings of free expert interviews, teleseminars, webinars and other special events being held during January on the Events Calendar at the same website: http://www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

What feedback have you received from previous ICCD Months?

Parents not only appreciate the wonderful resource choices available to them, they also make connections with divorce experts on four continents. These family-focused professionals offer additional services and resources to help parents create a peaceful divorce, transition beyond divorce, co-parent effectively, explore dating and new relationships and help their children thrive in the months and years ahead.

What has touched you the most about ICCD Month?

I am so impressed with the dedication, thoughtfulness and compassion of the experts participating in ICCD Month each year. Their contributions make this such a significant and meaningful event that benefits both parents and children alike.

For more information about International Child-Centered Divorce Month plus access to all the free gifts and special events taking place in January please visit: http://www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

Would you tell us something about yourself?

When my son was eleven years old I initiated my divorce and was riddled with guilt, anxiety and apprehension about how it was going to affect him. After weeks of sleepless nights I came up with a way of breaking the divorce news to my son, which took the form of a personal family storybook with photos and text. After successfully co-parenting and raising him to adulthood, I decided to turn my concept into a customizable ebook with fill-in-the-blank templates. That ultimately became my internationally-acclaimed How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce: A Create a Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – With Love!

Following that I founded the Child-Centered Divorce Network, which provides expert advice, interviews, programs, coaching services and a host of valuable resources for parents coping with the effects of divorce on their family. I am also co-host of The Divorce View Talk Show and podcast.

Watch show interviews at http://www.divorceview.com. Access all the resources at the Child-Centered Divorce Network at http://www.childcentereddivorce.com. ###

Who’s Raising Whom? Good Discipline Begins at Home (Guest: Dr. Larry Waldman)

BTRadioInt-300x75As much as we love or children and grandchildren, have you ever stopped to consider how their poor behavior could be due to what we are doing or are not doing in response to it? Child development and behavior experts are in agreement that a behavior that keeps on happening because it’s being fed (reinforced), often in ways that slip right past our awareness.

LWaldman PhotoIt happens all the time. (And isn’t it interesting how we can see the problems as they surface in other families, yet struggle seeing them in our own?)

Fortunately, there’s good news … very good news: Poor behavior can be reduced and good behavior can be increased. According to our guest on this program, psychologist and author Dr. Larry Waldman, what our children do and don’t do can be changed using a set of behavioral principles that have been around for what seems like forever. Dr. Waldman and Dr. Sutton discuss these principles in this spirited and fast-paced program, focusing on the importance of parental attention, Rules for Reinforcement, Planned Ignoring and other key insights and interventions. So, fasten your seat belt and hang on for the ride.

WRWDr. Waldman is a psychologist in Phoenix, Arizona. His early career was in education: teacher, counselor and school psychologist. As a doctorate-level psychologist, he has taught at the university level and has served as both consultant and director for agencies providing mental health services. In his career, Dr. Waldman has counseled thousands of children, teens and parents. This program features his book, Who’s Raising Whom: A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline. (26:24)

www.topphoenixpsychologist.com

CLICK HERE for a complimentary copy of “Five Sure Ways to Raise a Responsible Child” by Dr. Waldman.

 

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Make Smart Choices for Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Success (Rosalind Sedacca, CCT)

BTAboutThemDivorce doesn’t end your co-parenting relationship with your former spouse. It only changes some of the form. It is still essential to create a working relationship focused on the optimum care and concern for your children. Every co-parenting relationship will be unique, affected by your post-divorce family dynamics. However, there are guidelines that will enhance the results for children in any family. Here are some crucial points to keep in mind to maximize your co-parenting success.

RSedaccaPhotoRespect your co-parent’s boundaries
Chances are your former spouse has a different parenting style than you, with some conflicting rules. Rather than stress yourself about these differences, learn to accept that life is never consistent and it may actually be beneficial for your kids to experience other ways of doing things. Step back from micro-managing your co-parent’s life. If the kids aren’t in harm’s way, let go and focus on only the most serious issues before you take a stand.

Create routine co-parent check-ins
The more co-parents communicate with one another about the children, the less likely for small issues to grow into major problems. Select days/times for phone, email or in-person visits. Discuss in advance visitation transfer agreements. List who’s responsible for what – each day, week or month. Food, homework, curfews, health issues, allowances, school transportation, sport activities, play dates, holiday plans and more should be clearly agreed upon, when possible – or scheduled for further discussion. Once you have a clear parenting plan structured, follow it to the best of your ability. But allow for last-minute changes and special “favors” to facilitate cooperation.

How Do I Tell the KidsPhotoEncourage your child’s co-parent relationship
Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex, your children need a healthy connection with their other parent. Keep snide comments to yourself and don’t discuss your parenting frustrations with your children. Encourage your kids to maintain a caring, respectful relationship with their other parent. Remind them about Mom or Dad’s birthday and holiday gifts. Make time in the weekly schedule for phone calls, cards, email and letters to keep the children’s connection alive when your co-parent is at a distance. Your children will thank you when they grow up.

Be compassionate with your in-laws
Remember that a Grandparent’s love doesn’t stop after divorce. If your children had a healthy bond with your former spouse’s extended family, don’t punish them by severing that connection. Children thrive on family attachments, holiday get-togethers and traditions they’ve come to love. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can be a great source of comfort to children during stressful times and a sense of continuity with the past. Dissolving those relationships is hurtful to both your children and the other family. Think long and hard before making such an emotionally damaging decision.

Above all, be flexible. When you allow calls from your co-parent when the kids are in your home, they will be more receptive to your calls when the tables are turned. Remember, you are still a parenting team working on behalf of your children. That commonality should enable you to overlook the thorns in your co-parenting relationship and focus on the flowering buds that are the children you are raising. ###

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce and Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, free ezine, blog, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents facing, moving through or transitioning after divorce, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.