Transitions Building Resiliency in Families Transitions in Divorce
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Resources for the Divorcing Family
Is brought to you By Kids First Parents Second A Registered 501c(3) nonprofit organization.
Coming June 2016 Emotional Intelligence for Children and Teens
Table of Contents
Rainbows for Children
Teenage Bill of Rights
Benefits of Mediation
You Have a Choice
A Better Divorce
My Smile .... Transitions in Divorce
Rainbows for Children
How do you tell your children?
Helping Kids find their voice
Talk to Strangers
How Not to Mess Up
How to Be Great Parents
The Echo of Divorce
Teenagers Journal Writing
Broken Circle Project
The Power of a Grandparent
Kids First Parents Second Flipboard and Social Media
TRANSITIONS Spouses who divorce without children have the option of simply ending their relationship â€œclosing the doorâ€? and moving forward. Terminating the relationship with an ex-spouse is not a viable option when children are involved. The divorce simply transitions the relationship parents shared as a spouse to the relationship they will maintain as it relates to their children. The divorce process may very well dictate how parents interact with one another, now and in the future. Parents have to decide if they want to allow the divorce process to be used to solve their problems OR to use civil litigation to resolve their disputes.
Parents NEVER EVER start out and teach their children to fight their way out of a problem. Parents teach their child to problem solve. Parents teach their children to ask for help from others if they do not know how to resolve their issues. Parents instruct their children to problem way out of their situation because they want to remove their child from the potential harm caused by conflict. Parents are simply removed from the situation, objective enough, resilient enough, to know how to get the child through difficulty. Parents must remember to practice what they preach during the divorce process. Applying collaborative techniques in a divorce helps parentâ€™s problem solve. Learning effective problem solving techniques is essential to minimizing future conflict. The divorce is not the end that closes a door to an old relationship. The divorce process simply transforms the way parents will engage each other. Parents should use the divorce process as a valuable opportunity to develop a plan of action that will help them effectively co-parent for years to come. For more information about Kids First Parents Second visit us at
www.kidsfirstparentssecond.org. Back to Index 5
Parents have a CHOICE in how their divorce is going to be r e s o l v e d . Parents need t0 THINK through the PROS and CONS of each approach.
litigation by default not understanding
have used a collaborative approach to resolve their divorce case. Most parents who want their case resolved before a Judge do so because they believe that civil litigation is the ONLY way they have to resolve the issues that are in dispute. Civil Litigation (PRO): A trial offers parents finality and a way to express concerns and complaints about the other parent. Family law courts are extremely effective in resolving high conflict cases where there is little to no chance that the parties can resolve their differences amicably.
Civil Litigation (CON) Why should a parent choose civil litigation when 90% of divorce cases settle outside of the courtroom? Civil litigation is an adversary atmosphere by its very definition. Civil litigation does nothing to decrease the level of animosity between the parents. Parents that maintain adversarial proceedings during the divorce process might be surprised to find that their conflict continues on, eventually leading to future litigation.
Collaborative Law (PRO) allows parents: The benefit of resolving their disputes OUTSIDE of the courthouse. The ability to problem solve with a team of attorneys and mental health professionals 3. The ability to develop effectively communicate skills so as to minimize conflict with their childâ€™s other parent during and after the divorce process.
Collaborative (CON) The biggest drawback to the collaborative practice of law is that if parties cannot reach an agreement on EVERY issue they must start the process all over again. Proponents of collaborative law will tell you that the ALL OR NOTHING approach is what motivates settlement.
Team Based Approach (Interdisciplinary): (PRO) The interdisciplinary practice of law allows attorneys and mental health professionals the opportunity to work together and problem solve BEFORE a case has to be set before a Family Law Court. The team based approach is basically a hybrid between the civil litigation and the collaborative practice of law. This team based approach provides an efficient way of resolving problems and isolating the actual issues that need to be resolved before a court of law.
Team Based (CON): High conflict attorneys who â€œagree to be involvedâ€? in the team based model do so NOT for the purpose of reaching an agreement but solely for the purpose of using the process to charge additional fees or gain an edge at time of trial. Certain Mental Health Professionals who do not understand their role in the collaborative process. These mental health professionals may be one sided and prevent parents from finding ways to resolve their divorce.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation for the Modern Family When a family is in divorce mode, mediation is the best option to maintain or build communication. A couple often lets anger drive the dissolution of the marriage, but their lawyers take out swords, the clock starts, and the legal fees drain bank accounts and other financial resources. The ideal business model is in the best interest of the children and for the parents to dissolve their relationship as a business deal. The family lawyers provide legal information and mediators facilitate the communication between the parties in a productive and safe style. This way the family does not have to rebuild financial resources, undo unnecessary stress, and the children are not pawns in a messy, adult dispute. There are different aspects of mediation to consider: 1) Parties can go to mediation before securing legal representation as pro se parties. Usually, the mediation requires one to two meetings of three to four hours sessions. It is recommended that at the end of this mediation process the parties agree in their formal agreement that one of the parties have a family board certified attorney take their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the legally binding agreement and result of the mediation process, and incorporate it into the pleading for the court. It is called papering the case. Since an attorney can only represent one party, one of the couple takes the MOU to the attorney who is used to papering MOU for a flat fee of $2,500 to $3,000 from a list offered by the mediator. The MOU is converted into language and format that the court understands and needs. Nothing in the MOU can be changed. Both parties will have signed the MOU before it goes to the attorney, and it is also attached to the pleading. 2) Parties go to mediation with their respective attorneys. This is a bit more expensive, since the parties are paying for the mediator, approximately $900 for
up to four hours and their attorneysâ€™ fee of maybe $500 an hour. Sometimes this process is expanded to Collaborative Mediation. In these sessions, which usually are over three or four meetings of up to four hours per session, attorneys, mental health professionals, and a financial person are also present for the duration of the mediation. This is a very helpful model. Although it might seem expensive upfront, since all the professionals are paid hourly, it really is cost effective in the long term. Nothing that happens in the conversation is misdirected and everyone can offer professional advice in the moment, so that the decision is based on reasonable options right at the beginning. Therefore, collaborative mediation saves time on poorly constructed or unnecessary decisions and more easily can be a pure business decision with less emotion. 3) When parties are overwhelmed with blocked communication and high stress, the other reasonable option is a Parenting Coordinator or Facilitator. Most of the time, lawyers and the court use a Parenting Coordinator, which is more confidential process than a Facilitator, closer to the confidentiality of regular mediation, and always user friendly because it usually addresses only one-topic at a session. Dealing with too many topics or issues can be overwhelming and destructive for some couples. A Parenting Coordinator offers a fruitful learning experience in communication and shepherds a productive process. These sessions can be useful during the divorce process or after the divorce is final, but issues facing the children have emerged and need to be decided. The cost is approximately $125 per party for fifty minutes. The court will usually order it for over six months to a year. Here are three tips to save money and time when divorce is the reality on the table: First of all, the benefit of mediation is to remove stress from the family, improve communication and the relationship, and to maintain a fair and equitable quality of life for the kids. The needs of the kids are the first and primary concern of a family during and after the divorce process. So the question is, how to do this?! If the parents are deeply stressed, this is often because they have planted themselves into positions with only one path to victory for consideration. However, in mediation, unlike litigation and the battle of the swords, the parties are encouraged to think through many options, explore them, and move away from a position that could be devastating to them and their children through direct conversation. Showing strength just for the benefit of an instant win usually does not stand the test of time, nor does having someone negotiate the outcome of a decision that does not impact their life, as in negotiated settlement with parties in separate rooms. Second, stress is often in response to retaliation from their partner or a misstep. This emotional stress is often initiated and held by well-meaning family and friends who have chosen sides. One way to not get sucked into this vortex is to be private and not share with family and friends the details of your hurt and pain. It
is very easy to tell too much to anyone who will listen, but that strategy can bite you. Do not share details of your divorce or options of wants with your family and friends. Get professional help and discuss your divorce options, fears, and chaos with a trained therapist. Sometimes partners actually want to get back together with their spouse, but the waves of anger, hurt, and passion, are so high that walls are created and the family and friends have divided into camps. The crevasse is so deep that your former social and support group have dissolved into an embarrassing narrative that cannot be reunited. Third, once divorce is announced, think of it as a business deal. This is easier to say than to do, but it is very important to help frame a healthier process. Marriage is the most important business deal that a couple ever makes; but now that it is going to be resolved, it is the second most important decision for your financial well being and mental health and, more so, for your childrenâ€™s present living conditions and future security. When people call to hire a mediator, they often ask about the cost and ponder paying $5,000 for the whole process as too much. When asked what they paid for their wedding, the conversation shifts to silence. Moral of the story: use mediation as the vehicle for your divorce. It will save money, heartache, and stress, and the support and skills of a well-trained family mediator will keep the couple in a productive conversation to make quality decisions in the best interest of the children for today and tomorrow.
Manousso Mediation and Arbitration, LLC: Conflict Resolution Coaching &Training, was founded in 1993 by Dr. Barbara Sunderland Manousso, a 100% woman-owned business, historically underutilized business (HUB). In Houston and internationally, Dr. Barbara Sunderland Manousso is actively involved with mediating and arbitrating for local civil and federal clients. She belongs to a variety of professional organizations, such as the Texas Association of Mediators, Texas Mediation Credentialing Association as a Distinguished Mediator, the New England Chapter of the Association of Conflict Resolution, The Texas Mediation Training Roundtable, and a variety of international rosters and serves on their leadership for training and standards. Barbara is a former president of the Houston Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution and current board member. She serves on the editorial board of the ACResolution Magazine and serves on section committees of the international Association for Conflict Resolution. She is a frequent trainer and lecturer on mediation nationally and internationally.
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With a tested "here's how" approach, the Co-Parents' Handbook helps parents confidently take on the challenges of raising children in two homes. Addressing parents' questions about the emotional impact of separation, conflict, grief and recovery, the authors skillfully provide a roadmap for all members of the family to safely navigate through separation/ divorce and beyond. Parents discover through practical guidance how to move from angry/hurt partners to constructive,successful co-parents. The pages are chock-full of helpful strategies to resolve day-to-day issues in an easy-to-use format. This book is here to answer questions, help parents co-parent and ensure kids thrive!
Kristin Little, MA, MS, LMHC with over 17 years of experience serving children and families. Kris safely guides parents and children through the emotional landscape of divorce. She serves on the board ofthe Collaborative Professionals of Washington. (More about Kristin)
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Felicia Malsby soleil, JD
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the Year by the Family Law Section of the TacomaPierce County Bar Association, recognizing her leadership in establishing Collaborative Law locally, as well as throughout Washington State. (More about Felicia)
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"the co-parents' handbook is very comprehensive, detailed and engaging, with story examples and tips on almost every page. there are many books out now about co-parenting in divorce, but this is the most comprehensive i have seen for parents whose children are their highest priority." â€”Bill eddy, LCSW, Esq., President of the High Conflict Institute, and creator of New Ways for Families
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FIVE REASONS WHY YOU NEED A DIVORCE COACH If you’re reading this, odds are you are thinking about divorce, in the middle of a divorce, or already divorced, but still dealing with issues. No matter what stage you’re in, if you are representing yourself, I don’t have to tell you how difficult a divorce is to manage. Many divorce coaches are not attorneys. I happen to be one, which I find gives me a unique approach to helping people. I can give you guidance from an attorney’s point of view. I can give you insight on how to act when you go to court. I can tell you what issues to focus on and how to approach your case from a legal perspective. A divorce coach is an integral part of your divorce team. Here are five reasons why you should consider one if you don’t have an attorney. 1. You need someone to give you an unbiased, objective opinion When you’re getting divorced, you need a solid support network. Family and friends are important, but they can only give you part of what you need. They are naturally biased…because they are your family and friends. A divorce coach will give you unbiased opinions based on objective information to help guide you. 2. You have a resource for when you need guidance and want to talk strategy A divorce coach can strategize and help you navigate each phase of the process. Not so much for the legal aspect of the divorce, but for everything else, such as emotional decisions and how to respond to difficult spouses, etc. 3. A divorce coach is a professional who is on standby when you need questions answered quickly.
Like an attorney, a coach is a professional who is there when you need them. You may go for a period where you don’t have many questions, but there will be periods during the divorce where you will have many questions, and want to talk with your coach on a daily basis. It’s nice to know your divorce coach is there when you need him/her, as opposed to having questions and spending hours online searching for answers. 4.
A coach is cheaper than hiring an attorney. Any professional will cost money. There’s a difference between retaining an attorney for $5,000 and having to replenish that retainer when it runs out until your divorce is over, which can take more than one year and hiring a divorce coach to help guide you and answer questions as you represent yourself. Every coach has their own rates, but because they are not writing letters, making phone calls to other attorneys and the court and not representing you in court appearances, the investment will be much less than an attorney.
5. Divorce is too difficult to go at it alone. Be honest…do you really want to represent yourself without an attorney and a divorce coach? It’s understandable if you don’t have the thousands of dollars to retain an attorney. But, unless you are extremely savvy and confident in your abilities to go to court, learn the rules of evidence/procedure and negotiate a reasonable and fair settlement, you should seriously consider investing in a coach. Yes, it costs money, but so does most things in life. Nobody wants to get divorced, but if you have to go through the process, go through it with a proper support network so you come out the other side prepared to succeed and move on. Jason Levoy, a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy, is an attorney who coaches people without a lawyer how to get through the divorce process like a professional. Check out his free divorce guide on the negotiation tactics used by top divorce attorneys to settle divorces. http://jasonlevoy.com
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A BETTER DIVORCE One day recently, my 13-year-old daughter asked me, “Mom, do you get sad when you get a new case? Do you feel bad for the family that’s getting a divorce?” She has not experienced divorce directly but has two sets of cousins who have gone through it and she understands how difficult divorce has been in their lives. Her empathy was palpable and I thought carefully about how to answer. I told her, “I’m not sad because they are going to get a divorce whether they see me or not, but hopefully I can help them to have a more amicable divorce where they make all the decisions for themselves. It’s better for their kids if they can have a “respectful” divorce.” She nodded her head and we talked a bit more about families we know who are divorced and how the parents and children cope. Being a Divorce & Family Mediator has exposed to me to many different families and unique situations. Each one is an opportunity for a fresh start. I’ve heard many a judge asks, “Do you think this document represents both of your wishes?” Every divorce is fair and equitable based on the couple’s unique circumstances. I think about that throughout my meetings with clients. While emotions can run high and anger deep, the time I spend with a couple sorting out the 20-25 issues that they need to negotiate is productive on so many levels. My process is facilitative rather than directive which means I help my clients negotiate but I don’t give advice or tell them what to do. I will give information and make sure that both parties are heard. It’s important for each party to have an attorney to represent their best interests but if you are using a mediator you want to make sure the attorney understands the mediation process so that they support the agreement that you work on together .
Depending on the case, the focus varies. In some cases, I spend more time on finances and unpacking the relationship each person has to their finances. In most couples, one party is in charge of the finances and we take the time to educate the other party on their financial situation. There are a lot of materials to sift through and the homework for the couple can be overwhelming. When necessary, I refer them out to a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) or an attorney if they need a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order), which is used to divide retirement assets. In other cases, the parenting plan takes center stage. The hardest issue to “divide” in a divorce is the children. Mom and Dad are used to being with their children all the time and can’t imagine what life will be like without waking up and seeing them in the morning or kissing them good night before bed. Creating a parenting plan that keeps both parents feeling connected even while physically apart is easier in today’s technologically advanced society. Reminding parents that cell phones, skype and facetime are wonderful tools for staying in touch can lessen the difficulty of the proposed separation. When choosing a Divorce Mediator, do your research. Ask friends for referrals, go online, call the mediator and ask questions. Most mediators will offer a free consultation for you and your spouse to meet her/him and see if you’re a good match. While you want to make sure they have the right credentials and background to support your situation, you also want to feel comfortable with one another as you are going to delve into the inner workings and intimate details of your marriage. I spend a lot of time volunteering as a mediator in the local court and also am a trained facilitator for the required Parent Education courses in Massachusetts. The most important thing for people going through a divorce is to keep open communication. Remember that your children have a unique relationship with your spouse even if yours is changing through this process. You are all going through a grieving process and it will be different for each of you. Be available to support your children and you will all be happier throughout the process. Jody Comins is a Divorce & Family Mediator in the Greater Boston area. Her company is called “A Better Way; Divorce Mediation”. She has been involved in the Boston community for over 25 years and can also facilitate LGBTQ divorces.
For more information, go to http://www.divorcemediationabetterway.com 20
BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CO-PARENTING What is co-parenting? Co-parenting does not mean taking your ex to dinner OR taking vacations together. Co-parenting does not mean unconscious coupling. Cooperative parenting means that you and your childâ€™s other parent focus on meeting the needs of your child after the divorce. Co-parenting is more like a journey than it is a destination.
Talk less, share information more Parents need to STOP TALKING to one another WHEN THE DIVORCE BEGINS and START SHARING INFORMATION on the finances and the wellbeing of your child. Sharing information allows you to FOCUS on the needs of your child. FOCUSING on the needs of your child provides an opportunity to PROBLEM SOLVE. Parents who work together and FOCUS on their childâ€™s needs can begin the process of cooperative parenting.
If you find it impossible to talk to your ex. How do you plan to communicate about meeting your child's needs?
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provides an effective manner and means to share information. You simply open an account, share information and communicate through a Family Wizard portal on all matters concerning your child.
Microsoft One Note allows people to work on projects together regardless of their location. Microsoft one note is an underused resource that would be perfect for parents who wish to collaborate on a childâ€™s project or homework assignment. X-Box One: Xbox One is a gaming system that offers a parent the perfect forum to communicate with their child via Skype when they are away from home. With the new gaming console, Microsoft allows you the capability of playing with your children online while skyping with them at the same time. The Kinectivision function allows parents to speak to a child as they move across the room.
THE PARENTING PLAN HANDBOOK THE BOOK
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You Need a Parenting Plan In Seminar I, we will guide you to mentally and emotionally prepare to develop your parenting plan. Like setting any strong foundation, these considerations provide the framework for a skillful, child-centered parenting plan.
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Chapter 1 - Creating A Parenting Plan
Prepare yourself and your children in the best way possible for divorce and two-home family life. Explore a New Model for co-parenting and a respectful, conflict-managed divorce.
Chapter 2 - How to Keep Kids Central
Answer the question, “What’s best for kids?” Identify complex or specials circumstances that may require extra guidance. Understand the impact of grief on the entire family.
Chapter 3 - Building Your Team
Learn about divorce options and the team members available to assist you. Know that parents are often the best decision makers for their children’s future and future sense of family - not the courts. Play Free Seminar
Chapter 4 - Creating Your Co-Parenting Goals Receive practical coaching as you enter your parenting planning process. Establish your guiding principles to give your children security during a difficult family change.
Chapter 5 - Creating a Temporary Duty Parent Schedule
You’ve decided to divorce, and will continue to live together for a period of time. Use this time wisely to prepare your children, yourself and your co-parent for a stable future.
Designing Your Residential Schedule In Seminar II, we will tackle the residential considerations of a parenting plan. You will learn how to plan for sharing your children across two homes 365 days a year, 24 hours each day.
For a child's sense of family, what divorce breaks apart, strong co-parenting rebuilds. SEE ON AMAZON
Chapter 6 - Developmental Considerations
“One size fits none.” Take this opportunity to learn how you can incorporate your children’s ages and stages when designing a residential schedule that reflects developmental needs.
Chapter 7 - Residential Schedules for School-age Children Understand the differences between shared schedules and primary schedules, and the impact on children. Consider some of the common concerns/questions for school-age children.
Chapter 8 - Summer Schedules and Vacations with Parents Recognize the importance of summer for your children, vacations with parents, and the flexibility available for parents to make adjustments to meet needs.
Chapter 9 - Scheduling School Breaks
Address the options for sharing children during school breaks: incorporate travel if important, consider parent work schedules and child care issues.
Chapter 10 - Scheduling Holidays and Celebrations Recognize the value of short- and long-term planning. Work together to sustain a sense of continuity while allowing new traditions to unfold.
Chapter 11 - Scheduling Special Occasions
Consider how to celebrate special days. Plan for your children’s birthdays and their peer birthday parties. Take all your residential ideas and map them on a calendar. Play Free Seminar
Transitions, Communications, & Decision- Making In Seminar III, we tackle the non-residential aspects of a thoughtfully designed parenting plan. We’ll help you recognize the importance of becoming skillful Co-Parent Executive Officers of your children’s twohome family.
Chapter 12 - Child-Centered Transitions Build clear agreements for transitions that consider the emotional impact on children. Understand how keeping agreements rebuilds trust.
Chapter 13 - Communication Protocols
Focus on clear, constructive communication protocols that help you solve problems, make decisions, and keep your children’s lives integrated in their two-home family.
Chapter 14 - Decision Making
Understand the different options for decision making and the common areas of decision making that could be included in your parenting plan. Utilize a business meeting format for effective joint decision making.
Chapter 15 - Paying for Children's Needs and Activities Briefly touch on how Child Support and paying for your children’s needs intertwine. Understand the value of clear agreements regarding money and children’s well-being.
Changes, Conflict Resolution, and Co-Parenting In Seminar IV, we dig into managing change and conflict. We’ll help you anticipate adjustments and respond to emergencies. We’ll provide guidance on establishing a skillful, enduring co-parenting relationship – or if that’s not possible, support for parenting your children on your own.
Chapter 16 - Change Change is the one thing you can be sure of – understand how to make adjustments to the residential schedule, honor work schedule changes and when to modify a parenting plan.
Chapter 17 - Conflict Resolution
Establish priorities to assist with resolving conflicts in
residential time. Clarify values and rank importance. Establish a Conflict Resolution process for your parenting plan.
Chapter 18 - Co-Parenting Guidlines
Strive for two good-enough parents who can work together to care for children. Understand the impact of new romantic partners and step-parents.
Chapter 19 - Co-Parenting Alone
Recognize the value of “holding down the fort” and becoming the parent you want to be regardless of circumstances. Love and care for your children while taking good care of yourself.
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“...But how do we tell the children?” Once the painful decision to divorce has been made, telling the children is most likely the next most difficult step. As a matrimonial attorney, clients often ask me for help at this critical stage. The advice is different based upon the age of the children involved. A five year old will not process the information in the same manner as a ten year old. Similarly, parents should be prepared in advance as to what they are going to say. Parents should be on the same page as to how (and when) they are going to (calmly) tell their children. Regardless of the children’s ages, I always recommend the use of therapists or other mental health professionals to assist the parents and provide the coping skills needed for all involved. One such expert, Dr. Rachelle Theise, a licensed psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center, provides the following professional advice on how to tell children based upon their age:
• Birth to 2: Children cannot process information about divorce at this young age. Try to keep established routines, maintain consistency in daily activities, and provide your children with the same amount of love, care and attention. You can have the conversation about the divorce when they get a little older.
• Preschool: With basic cognitive, language, and emotional processing
skills, children in this age group focus mainly on two things : 1) what the change means for their daily lives and 2) if everyone will be okay. If they can sense that a parent is 27
extremely upset or angry, these children will be confused and struggle more. Parents should keep the conversation basic, calm and positive. Talk about how daily life will be a little different, but most things will stay the same (Daddy will still take you to soccer practice and Mommy will put you to bed at night).
• Early Elementary:
As children are more aware of their own relationships with peers and are more skilled in understanding and expressing emotions, they are likely to have questions about their parents’ relationship and wonder about the change. They might ask more questions about whether parents like each other, if they got in a fight, or if they are sad. Alternatively, some kids have these thoughts but do not express them, so be mindful of ensuring that more internal and shy children have a chance to regularly check in about their thoughts and feelings. Parents should always communicate a calm, safe, and confident presence in which, although things will be different, they are confident everything will be okay.
• Middle and High School: Young adolescents are likely to have well-developed language, communication and social-emotional skills. They might be very aware of their parents’ problems, and be able to express a range of feelings such as shock, anger, betrayal or relief. Parents should be ready to have fairly honest and open communication, without badmouthing the other parent, but telling a truth that relationships are hard and parents have decided they need to be separate right now. No matter what, this does not change how much they love their children and will do their best to make them happy, as always. In sum, it will not be an easy conversation to have; however, as Dr. Theise advises, “Parents should try to stay calm and avoid crying or badmouthing the other parent. Ideally, they should write down some notes about what they want to say, because in the moment, emotions are high and it can be hard to find the right words.” The most important component is to make sure parents convey this new direction for the family in a calm, respectful and regulated manner. If parents can do that, children are much more likely to feel safe and secure. And it goes without saying, but always assure your children that they are loved by both parents no matter what. Follow Ashley Tate Cooper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/weinbergcooper
Ashley Tate CooperFamily Law Attorney Partner at Weinberg & Cooper, LLC, Hackensack, NJ firstname.lastname@example.org
FAMILY WELLNESS HOW TO HEAL FAMILY HURT and PAIN? What Is Family Wellness? Family wellness is about more than the physical health of each family member. Family wellness is the structural foundation that provides physical, mental, financial, social, emotional and spiritual support from each family member. Family wellness is what defines a healthy family. A healthy family as seen in the eyes of children consists of, living with parents who live together, share and show their feelings to them, care for and about them, keep them safe, love each other and them too, work and provide for them, and they all have fun together. If this is how children define family, we need to look at why this is a problem with the adults who are their parents. What Is the Family Problem?
When humans in family relationships interact with each other there are lessons to be learned and experienced. These life lessons can be filled with both jo ys and challenges. It is the challenges that causes family problems. Just like when you ignore a pain in your body and refuse to seek medical care before it becomes terminal, is
the same for a family problem. When the problem is not solved it becomes a traumatic crisis that begins to destroy the family and its foundation. Most family problems are a result of two things: unrealistic expectations about relationships and failure to listen. An unrealistic expectation in a relationship is when you believe that others should treat you the way you want them to treat you. This is the adult acting like a child because the unrealistic expectations are” expectation illusions" from your childhood. This is often what you see in most court custody cases when parents use their children as “pawns”, which is a childlike behavior. Failure to listen is a major problem in relationship because we only hear what is being said. We think hearing is listening. To hear words and not listen to the words results in miscommunication. So if no one is listening to each other the family problem cannot be solved. At this stage the family problem becomes a traumatic crisis and help is needed. Solving the Family Problem To solve a family problem when it reaches the traumatic crisis stage, both parents need to understand and learn to define the problem and accept a crisis does exist. Once the family problem is recognized an action plan is needed. An action plan is important in helping parents become the adults who care for their children above their needs and wants. When parents take action, it establishes a relationship that will be new and different. This new relationship building model will not be like your
relationship and can be better or worse, but the end result will be to move the family in a new direction. A new relationship building model, to solve the family problem for the sake of the children, should consist of:
This is not the time for finger pointing. Your energy needs to be focused on solving problems, not assigning blame. Feelings like anger and resentment are childlike behavior from your past. It is now about the family working together to fixing the problems.
Prioritize your problems
When dealing with more than one family problem, tackle the most pressing issue first then move on to the others. Focusing on one problem at a time is key to successfully resolving the crisis.
Be the Other Person
When you are highly emotional and tense it's easy to get caught up in your own emotions and forget about the other person. Take time to imagine how each person involved in the situation is feeling. Understand the whole problem and figure out the best solution.
Re-design your family structure
If your existing family structure isn't working, change it. Look at does a parent give more attention to one child; does a child have needs one parent is better at handling. This is where a change in the family dynamic is needed to move toward a healing.
Recognize needs of every family member
What happens to one family member happens to the entire family. Allow everyone a chance to talk and express about how they feel.
Let go of the past
What's done is done. Stop wasting time wishing you handled things differently, begin with changing your behavior today and concentrate on your children’s life and future.
Njideka N. Olatunde, ND, PhD, MSW,
is the Founder of Focus On
Healing Wellness Institute is an accomplished Naturopath with expertise in the cultural integration of non-traditional health care approaches with conventional medicine for mind, body and emotional wellness. She is an author, acclaimed speaker, Master Reflexologist, educator, media personality, Holistic Healthcare Business consultant, Father’s Right and Children Custody legal consultant.
Adele McCormack Accredited Practitioner Coach (IIC&M)
How not to mess up your children in Divorce? I honestly don’t think people are intending to mess up their children when going through Divorce and certainly if you are reading this then I applaud you for wanting to make the best out of a bad situation for your kids. However, 9 times out of 10, people mess up and the children are the ones who get the brunt of it. Here are some basic No-No’s to avoid. 1. Don’t bad mouth your ex to your children – Remember the Divorce is happening between you and your ex, not you children. Yes, you may be angry and hurt and yes they may be behaving like a right idiot (because they are also angry and hurt) but when you bad mouth the other parent to your children, you are bad mouthing part of them. Your child will experience it personally. 2. Don’t use your children as confidents –Your children are your children. They are not your best friend, agony aunt, shoulder to cry on. They are your children and you are their parent. This never stops. It also doesn’t matter how ‘mature’ they are, how ‘well’ you think they are handling it, this does not justify you from offloading your emotional baggage to them. Where do you think that they can put it? 3. Don’t brag about your new life? – when people have come out of difficult relationships, they often experience an epiphany of how great life can be. They walk around with a ‘buzz’, happy and excited about what life can offer. However, your children may not be feeling like this. Their parents splitting will be devastating.
4. Don’t leave them behind emotionally – Children become very lonely when parents’ divorce. They experience a whole raft of emotions – relief (if the atmosphere was bad), then guilt (for feeling relieved), anger (because of the situation), sad (because they will no longer live with one parent), guilt (because of only living with one parent), sadness (for the parent that they don’t live with), happy (that parents seem better off) and then a conflicted sense of responsibility about which parent to see at Christmas and birthdays. Add into this emotion that they will feel if you are still arguing about them (more guilt) or if you become too busy or ‘buzzy’ about your new life that you forget to ask them how they are (rejected) and your child will be a big ball of emotions. Leave them there and the consequences can be devastating. You are both responsible for their pain, no matter who caused the divorce. Make sure you spend time to help them safely through the grief cycle. 5. Don’t stop being parents – So your ‘romantic, sexual’ relationship is over but your parenting responsibilities aren’t. Your ex may have cheated on you and you are hurt, I get it, but you are still parents and you need to parent together. If you have any chance of getting your children through your Divorce, then you need to put your feelings aside and focus on the children. If you cannot communicate about anything else, please work hard to find a way to communicate about your children for the sake of your children. Banish all conversations about anything but them, if you have to. The difference it makes is phenomenal.
For more support navigating through the Divorce process visit www.northhousecoaching.com
How to be great parents through separation and beyond It may feel very raw, bitter and acrimonious during separation but remembering two important things when a child is involved will help get you through, and the result will be a much happier child - and parents will be happier too. First things first - your child loves Mum and Dad. Always has done, and always will do. The big word here is “and”. It’s not a competition for affection! Your child loves you both - more than anything in the world! The second thing is time, or more importantly a child’s concept of time. It works like this. Remember how, when you were little, the summer holidays seemed like this never ending vast expanse of time. Now as an adult, a two-week break feels like it’s over barely before it has begun. We have different perceptions of time depending on our age. So a two-year acrimonious separation battle, for a ten-year-old is actually 20% of their life as they know it. To a 30-year-old parent that would feel like 6 years! So you need to start a new different relationship with your ex, based on being a responsible parent, sooner rather than later. No matter how hopeless or useless it feels right now, the key is taking some action and moving on the mindset from the personal to a respectful parent relationship – and doing so quickly whilst transitioning through the separation or divorce process to your new life beyond. Taking the first step may seem daunting but help is at hand! Families come to me through solicitors, referred by courts and so on. All too often matters have escalated and there is some sort of deadlock. Communication is non-existent. Respect has long gone and it’s difficult to just be in the same room together. But remember – your child loves Mum and Dad and needs you both. There are countless professional reports that
clearly show how beneficial it is for there to be two parents involved – even when they are apart. That’s why we created the Parenting Apart Programme. Once parents ask for our help it typically takes just 5 weeks for us to be able to turn this around, and help support parents to gain the tools they need to build a new parent working relationship and mutual respect for each other as parents of the child. And when this happens the results are dramatic. It’s about re-educating parents to a new way of being, learning how to talk to each other again, and being great role models by setting positive examples to the children. But it does take hard work and dedication. We invite Mum and Dad separately first to allow them to talk about how they are feeling and what has happened and where they wish to be. We help parents take those practical first steps, set some new standards and over the course of the programme and support the parents to compile and agree their own “parent working agreement” – an agreement which can if necessary be ratified by the courts. At each session we check how things have gone, what has worked, what has been difficult and take practical steps to ensure everything remains in place. Parents often describe what they go through as “tough love”, and readily recognize that what we achieve in 5 weeks is invariably more than what may have been achieved in 18 months of other forms of dispute resolution – whether that be through the Courts or mediation. Just some of the practical tools and methods we practice with parents make an impressive difference to their parent working relationship, and of course how the child perceives this relationship. We cover things such as just entering a room where the other party is present, through to how to do a child handover in a positive, constructive and supportive way. Something you will be rewarded for through your child’s smiles and attitude. The parent working agreement also covers all the practical aspects of parenting such as the “when’s and where’s” of living arrangements and schooling. It’s about both the practical aspects and building a respectful way of behaving towards each other. So our advice is to always try to remember to see things through your child’s eyes and get some help. Your child loves Mum and Dad. To find out more about the Parenting WWW.email@example.com
Claire Field was the Managing Director of Contact Care UK Limited and now runs Claire Field Consultancy which specializes in providing supervision of contact in a safe, welcoming environment where children and families can be brought together. Claire has an impressive reputation for supporting and advising parents going through separation or divorce, and has built up an impeccable service working alongside public and private law proceedings. Claire’s passion and commitment is clearly evident by the professionals, clients and children
The Echo of Divorce â€œDivorce may be a necessary ending to a traditional family unit. What no one realizes is that once the divorce is done the results of that family shift continue to repeat through each memberâ€™s life. The echo remains even though the divorce is long over.â€?
When my mom passed away, along with mourning her, I somehow was also taking a journey down Divorce Memory Lane. I found myself going back in my mind through the decades. I was reprocessing the fall out of their divorce, one event at a time. Seeing it now through adult eyes, through the eyes of being a life coach, a mother, and a wife. There was no denying it. Both of my parents made decisions in the years following their divorce that forever altered their own destiny, as well as impactingmine. My mom, upon divorcing initially saw me as “competition.” If I had a date and she did not, I could see her mood shift. When I got engaged, she refused to shop for my wedding dress with me; it was too emotional for her. My dad moved 3000 miles away when I went to college. I wanted nothing more than to live with him on the west coast. Despite my applying for a transfer from an east coast school, this never happened. He had a new girlfriend and a new life…his 20-year-old daughter would not be an asset to that. He never said as much, he didn’t have to. He did not attend my college graduation because my mother was there. Eventually, he cut off my mother’s alimony, partially because he needed to, mostly to spite her. She in turn served him with back alimony papers at my wedding! (Yes, you read that correctly!) My mom’s finances remained in disarray and we needed to help supplement her earnings. Long before she was elderly, she had become my child. Her inability to find her own way in the world post-divorce had left her bitter and helpless. Instead of freeing her, her divorce had imprisoned her. We became closer when I had my children, but we were never really friends. My father lived another eleven years’ post-divorce and my mom pushed on for thirty. In that time, neither of my parents found the happiness that they each blamed the other for not providing. They never understood that joy was an inside job. As a reinvention coach, I cannot express enough how important it is post-divorce to reconnect to and rediscover just who you are as single, independent versions of yourselves. The ability to prioritize your own adult goals is paramount to your success in moving forward. That said, the blueprint you design for your entire family and the decisions you make in how you treat each other will lay the foundation for a healthy
support system or for a dysfunctional one. Divorce can bring out the worst in people and with that it can also bring out fears and insecurities. All decisions we make in life are either love or fear based. Love based decisions are filled with opportunities, positive energy and promise. Fear based decisions are filled with blocks and negativity. The goal is for family love to supersede divorce fears. For me, my motherâ€™s death and losing both of my parents finally closed the door on the echo of their divorce. Everyone knows that the children of divorce have a tough road post-split What no one tells you is that the reverberation of just how that broken family repairs itself will continue to manifest over time. You have the CHOICE in your own family unit in how you will impact that echo. May the echo of the choices you make reflect the truest version of yourselves and one that you most want to be amplified for your children for years to come. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REINVENT, REFRESH REYOU! Randi Levin Coaching North New Jersey/Greater New York City Area http://randilevincoaching.com/about-2/
Randi Levin CPC, CEO & founder Randi Levin Coaching-- is a certified transitional life strategist, inspirational speaker, thought leader, and reinvention expert. Randi is the author of Recoloring Life Workshops as featured in The Wall Street Journal. She holds a BS Degree in Journalism from The University of Maryland and a professional coaching certification from The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching. It is her belief that life does not always play out in a straight line, nor should it! Throughout her one-on-one coaching, group workshops, or in her writing, Randiâ€™s utilizes her Signature GPS Coaching System as a catalyst for her clients to clarify and refresh their journeys. Randi is a member of The Divorce Support Professionals and a contributor and featured expert for Ridgewood Moms, PowHER Network, Identity Magazine, Transitions Magazine, as well as a variety of other national publications. She also hosts Conversations With the Coach, her talk show featuring meaningful topics, brilliant guests, rich content, and action-based tips for renewing life.
Divorce Works App
Divorce can work and you can make it happen DivorceWorks was designed by two psychologists with 3 decades of experience with families going through separation and divorce. With a focus on emotional awareness and regulation, the app assists with coping during this difficult time. DivorceWorks includes features to help parents transition mindfully, to a new and happy reconfiguration of family
Help when parents split. For young people, provided by young people. Wantto contributeyourown messages to thesite? Submit at voicesinthemiddle.org.uk
SOPHIE ( 17 )
“I sat waiting at the window for hours on end every
day waiting for him to turn up but he didn’t… “
I was 5 when my parents split, as I was at such a young age I didn’t understand why. But this is my story. My dad went to work as usual whilst me and my mum went shopping and cooked dinner waiting for him to come home, but he didn’t turn up until the next day whilst I was at school to get his stuff. He told my mum he was leaving her for another woman but promised to stay in my life. When my mum told me he wasn’t going to live with us anymore I was confused as any child would be. He continued to see me and pick me up every weekend and take me out, but this resulted in him and my mum arguing all the time, causing me to feel like it was all my fault. In the end he just didn’t turn up. I sat waiting at the window for hours on end every day waiting for him to turn up but he didn’t… he never saw me again until I was 15. But a year later he left my life again, which made me feel as though I wasn’t worth it if my own dad can just get up and leave. I was clinically depressed after he left the second time and I refused to see a doctor. I just wanted to be alone. It’s just been me and my mum for years now and I think I’m glad he left.
Children of divorce go through a great many changes.
Change is not a bad thing if parents can help children learn how to become resilient.
A resilient child is one that 1. feels safe 2. is able to love both parents
3. is not placed in the middle.
Grief is often misunderstood, particularly when it comes to children and adolescents who are grieving. All too often adults mistakenly think that “children are resilient” and will simply bounce back from trauma. Children must learn to develop and strengthen their resiliency; it doesn’t just happen naturally. Often grieving youth are left to their own devices to try to understand their feelings. Adults either don’t listen to them, don’t want to talk about what has happened because it is too painful, or don’t know what to say. The children’s feelings are ignored in hopes that the grief will just resolve itself and go away. Suzy Yehl Marta, the Founder of Rainbows for All Children and author of Healing the Hurt, Restoring the Hope explains, “In the midst of loss, each child’s experience is unique. How a child grieves depends on the loss, the amount of love invested in what has been taken away, the relationship that was shared, and how the loss occurred.” Every loss is painful; they only differ by degree.
These children often experience a range of emotions and they can become very confused by what they are experiencing. If there is not someone there to guide them through those turbulent times, the consequences can be devastating. Alone, youth may turn to destructive and even life-threatening behaviors as a means of ‘coping’ with overwhelming emotional pain. Children and adolescents often express grief very differently than adults and in a variety of ways. Their age, personalities, the intensity of their feelings and their unique family situations will make each of their actions different. But there are many similarities to the ways these children express grief. Grieving for adults tends to be on a continuum. When something extremely painful happens, they may be in anguish for some time where it may affect their work, family life, and friendships. It may take years before they are able to truly embrace life the same way as before and, even then, it is often altered. Younger children are only able to grieve for short periods of time; they lack the emotional maturity to sustain grief for long periods of time. Therefore, they might be sobbing uncontrollably one moment and playing happily on the playground just a few minutes later. Adults may misinterpret this behavior as “faking” or “seeking attention” when in reality the child is feeling grief, often very intensely, but just not in the same continuous manner as an adult. Children often do not know how to behave when they are grieving. The news can be so shocking to them that they react in ways that most adults would find strange. Upon being told of a parents’ divorce, for instance, an adolescent might start shooting hoops in his driveway—unable to cope with the news and unsure of the feelings washing over him. This is normal. It doesn’t mean he isn’t sad; he just doesn’t know what to do with the sadness so he does something normal to try to compensate. Oftentimes children don’t even have the words to describe their emotions and therefore grief is expressed through misbehavior or physiological ailments such as a stomachache or headache. Children of divorce can feel traumatized if surrounded by constant fighting, and that trauma can sometimes literally make them sick. The myriad of emotions can make some children appear not to be affected at all by a traumatic situation. Something drastic happens and they go about their lives as though nothing has changed. For all practical purposes, they seem “just fine.” They get good grades, they are active in sports or other activities, they have friends, they appear “normal.” While it is tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and say a prayer of thanks that they are one of the lucky ones that may not be the case. In fact, these children are often the most difficult to help because more often than not they have crammed their emotions deep down inside. Unless these children are able to work out their grief and acknowledge their pain to themselves or someone else, it may continue to haunt them throughout their lives.
While reactions of children can vary, there are three questions that almost every child of any age will have when their parents’ divorce, and these questions most often go unasked:
“Did I cause this?” “Who will keep me safe?” “Is this going to happen to me too?”
Confused by their parents’ behavior, children often blame themselves when something goes wrong. Even at a young age, there is a sense of security that comes from having two people take care of them. Children may fear what will happen when there is only one, and worry if that person will leave them as well. The Rainbows program teaches that telling the stories of our lives and love relationships to our children can help them realize that we all stumble and try again; our hearts get broken and we fall in love another time; we make wise choices and reap the benefits; we make wrong decisions and suffer the consequences. Through it all, though, we learn and become better people. The process of grieving cannot be hurried, especially in a child. There is no set time limit on how long it will take before one is able to feel better, and rushing a child to “get over it” will often simply push the feelings beneath the surface where they are sure to come out again, often more drastically, at a later time. While the pain of loss cannot be avoided, children can be healed from loss. Grieving children and teens need adult guidance and help to negotiate through the process of grieving, but they can survive and thrive if they are supported and given the tools to grieve in a healthy way. Children’s success in growing through their parents’ divorce is influenced by the levels of ongoing conflict, the parents’ levels of distress and ability to function emotionally, the child’s lingering sense of guilt, parental abandonment, the family’s socioeconomic status, and the amount of support from extended family and the community. If divorced parents put forth the effort to work through their grief and accept that the divorce has happened, they will more likely be able to eventually let go of their anger and hurt. When the children are allowed to grieve the loss of the family they once knew, there is much greater hope for the future. With kindness, support and nurturing, children of divorce can learn to smile again.
Laura Lindroth Community Outreach Rainbows for All Children index
Building Resilience in Children and Teens “Resilience is about bouncing back. The challenge is to PREPARE kids to have the capacity to recover before anything actually goes wrong. Our goal is to think in the present and prepare for the future, to remember that our real goal is to raise children to be successful 35 year olds.” Building Resilience in Children and Teens offers strategies to help kids from 18 months to 18 years build seven crucial “Cs” — competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control — so they can bounce back from challenges and excel in life. The book describes how to raise authentically successful children who will be happy, hardworking, compassionate, creative, and innovative. It’s about more than immediate smiles or even good grades; it’s about raising kids to be emotionally and socially intelligent, to be able to recover from disappointment and forge ahead throughout their lives. The stable connection between caring adults and children is the key to the security that allows kids to creatively master challenges and reach their highest potential. This book offers concrete strategies to solidify those vital family connections. Resilience is also about confronting the overwhelming stress that kids face today. This invaluable guide offers coping strategies for facing the stresses of academic performance, high achievement standards, media messages, peer pressure, and family tension. Young people too commonly survive stress by indulging in unhealthy behaviors or by giving up completely. The strategies offered here are aimed at building a repertoire of positive coping skills. Kids who have these healthy strategies in place may be less likely to turn to those quick, easy, but dangerous fixes that adults fear. The book includes a guide for teens to create their own customized positive coping strategies. Available for purchase at: http://www.fosteringresilience.com/books.php
THE SEVEN C’S OF BUILDING RESILIENCY IN YOUR CHILD DR. KENNETH R. GINSBURG M.D. Competence:
When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don't allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.
Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.
Connections with other people, schools, and communities offer young people the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop creative solutions.
Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.
Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good and may therefore more easily turn to others, and do so without shame.
Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.
Young people who understand privileges and respect are earn through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.
Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., is a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He also serves as a Director of Health Services at Covenant House Pennsylvania, an agency that serves Philadelphia’s homeless and marginalized youth.
HELPING FAMILIES IN DIVORCE
KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND Our mission is to primarily Support families going through the divorce process Help children and teens navigate the very difficult grief process following a life-altering crisis or loss Help professionals improve the service they provide to their divorcing clients Offer Emotional Intelligence Education for ages 5-18 years of age. Guide parents and children (age 9-13 years old) to a greater understanding of one another Provide Resources for teens designed to help identify, appreciate, and capitalize on natural strengths
My smile doesn’t mean everything is okay Part of Kids First Parents Second mission is to help kids cope with life during and after the divorce process. Being on the front line has given us a unique perspective on issues these kids face. These kids entered our room at first polite, reserved and then irritated. They were irritated that they had to take time off of a Saturday and be at our class. They were irritated that someone was about to tell them that everything was going to be okay. Everything was obviously not okay. The kids looked at us in shock. "We’re here to be talking about MY feelings?" Many of the kids thought we were going to tell them everything was going to be okay. We saw kids who were more worried about their parent’s feelings than their own.
Over time things changed, especially after the movie "Inside Out” came out. All of a sudden IT WAS COOL for kids and talk ABOUT THEIR OWN feelings of anger, sadness, fear and joy. We came up with a spinning wheel that kids could spin, which would land on different key emotions. When they spun the wheel the kids WANTED it to land on ANGER, they wanted to talk about ANGER and they wanted to know how to deal with ANGER. 52
It was these same kids who went back to their parents with smiles saying everything was okay. These kids were comforting their parents, assuring mom and dad that they were okay. Thatâ€™s what kids do, they try to please and not cause unnecessary problems. Parents who are involved in a divorce with conflict are going to have a very hard time of understanding exactly how their young children truly are feeling. That is not necessarily the case when parents have teenage children. Teenagers do not exist to please their parents. They have their own identities, their own wants and needs. Parents are shocked that their teenagers now have become distant or seem consumed with nothing but hate.
The way we see it, many children, regardless of their age, are going to be angry when their parentâ€™s divorce. Many children, regardless of age, are going to feel sad and hopeless. Divorce is a life altering event that is hard to understand and comprehend. Kids need to know that they have the ability to express themselves. If children are not allowed to transition through the divorce process they will have problems. In the short term it might mean uncontrolled outbursts of anger. In the long term the child may face depression, anxiety or even worse. So when you see that childâ€™s smiling face, dig a little deeper. Don't just ask, interact. You know you are going through a major change in your life, know that your kids are too.
For more information, visit us at www.kidsfirstparentssecond.org.
SUPER HERO'S ASSEMBLE!
KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND
Spider-Man's true identity was Peter Parker. When Spider-Man wasn't fighting with Doc Octopus or Lizard man he was just trying to get through everyday life as his alter ego, Peter Parker. Peter, just like Spider-man was a superhero because he was resourceful and found ways to adapt to beat impossible odds. Without Peter, there never would have been a Spider-man! So who wants to be a superhero? index
TEEN NATION Dear Mom and Dad I will not listen to what you have to say. I will know more than you. I will do what I want to do. I will test your patience. I will frustrate you to no end. I will get lost without your direction. I will learn how to handle my problems based upon your mistakes. Please be the parents that I need you to be. Work together and show me the way.
KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND
YOUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS #WEARE TEEN NATION
TEENAGERS AND DIVORCE
Divorcing parents should expect to encounter the wrath of their teenage child. Teenagers typically experience failing grades and antisocial behavior during and after their parent’s divorce. As a parent, what are your options? Divorce does not mean that your teenage child has to suffer. Divorce or not, parents need to communicate effectively and share information with one another. Parents need to be on the same page to provide needed love, guidance and discipline to their teenager. At Kids First Parents Second, it was obvious that these teenage children felt lost. Most of these children simply wanted to be left alone. It was that basic human right that led to us helping the teenagers creating a Bill of Rights for the Divorcing Family. The teenager, along with their parents would sign the Bill and it would become the “law” in the family household. Enclosed is a sample “Bill of Rights” for your family’s use. Feel free to print the Bill of Rights for your family OR talk to your teenager and create your own families Bill of Rights. Tell us about your “Bill of Rights” Story on our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/conflictorcollaborative/.
I am your teenage son or daughter. I have rights in your divorce. I did not plan for your divorce. I planned on having a normal teenage life full of emotional ups and downs. I planned on worrying about acne, geometry and going on my first date. I need to inform you that I have some basic rights, and I want those rights respected by both of you. Theserights include:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
I have the right to be left alone. I have the right to askquestions, when I feel the need toâ€Ś I have the right to be angry and speak my mind. I have the right to notbe placed in the middle of your conflict. I have the right to be with my friends. I have the right to do the things that make me happy. I have the right to ask how this divorce is going to affect me. I have the right to both parents, and not feel that I have to choose between you. I have the right to know that you will act in my best interest. I have the right to be happy and find happiness.
Signed on this the
From your child index Having read your request, your parents plan to honor and respect your rights as a teenager in this divorce. We will give you the room that you need to heal during this painful time while providing you guidance just like we always have. We sign this bill of rights understanding that you will look to your parents for continued love and support.
Journal Writing Tips Teenagers involved in Divorce #1. Find a safe spot to hide your journal. #2. Write regularly. #3. Make sure to date your entries. 4. Make sure to write about your feelings, anger, sadness, or any other emotion that you might be feeling.
Read your journal. You will be able to answer HOW you were feeling. You will also be able to answer WHY you were feeling the way you did. 5. Connecting the dots goes a long way towards giving you self-awareness of your situation. 6. Being aware means that you can problem solve. Being aware means that you can ask for help with your problem if you don't know what to do. Brought to you by Kids First Parents Second
THE KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND APPROACH “OPEN(S) THE DOOR TO HELP CHILDREN FIND THEIR VOICE” It is important for children of divorce to feel secure and have a safe haven whether they are with one parent or the other. Children of divorce who are experiencing pain, disillusionment, and longing are in need for their voices to be heard, and there health, well-being and self-esteem to stay in tack as much as possible at all times. Divorce is a multidimensional process of healing, coping, understanding and restructuring old relationships and building new ones. As a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked extensively with children of divorce it has been imperative to have the use of tools that will both educate the parents and children on how to express and communicate their needs, and emotions. Kids First Parents Second “Path to Courage” and the “Rainbow Project” are two of the tools that I have used to open the door for children to find their voices, get in tuned with their emotions during the separation and divorce process, and for the importance for the child to be given permission to love both parents. The” Path to Courage” has been helpful in creating a step by step plan for children of divorce who have felt lost, scared, anxious and have aches inside that they are experiencing but do not know how to express due to their fear of hurting one of their parents. This tool has helped the children I have worked with to feel empowered in seeking the courage in finding their voice to ask questions of their parents, attorneys, relatives, and friends. Through learning the importance of finding a safe and quiet place to stop and reflect, the children have been able to find 60
the courage to problem solve through things they could and couldn’t change. The “Path to Courage” has been helpful in teaching children the need for support and how to seek out help from others so they can express their thoughts and emotions when needed. The “Rainbow Project” is an in depth resource I have utilized with children and teens in which teaches them to explore and express feelings they are experiencing (anger/frustration, worry/fear, sadness/grief) while at the same time learning how to survive and ways to be happy in their upside down world. Normalizing feelings and giving the child the permission to feel what they are experiencing is aiding in the continuous process of healing and the resolving of losses, anger, and self-blame. Although the children are responsible for their emotional work, parents who understand the process can lighten the load, and provide a supportive positive approach to shape the outcome, and help their children become winners. In my experience working with children, divorce is never learned to be liked, but rather they learn to live with it. As any force before which they are helpless, divorce demands an ability to cope with what they cannot change. The “Rainbow Project” uses examples such as “Make Some Lemonade” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” which allows the children to remember the good times, change their focus, ways in how to stay in touch with both parents (being in control), being engaged in things that make them happy, and ways to keep optimistic when change is happening all around them. One of the most important role of children who are experiencing divorce is being just that “a kid”. In the “Rainbow Project” it has helped me to educate and provide examples how they can maintain the role of “a kid” instead of being placed in the middle of conflicts, being a detective for the other parent, or being a messenger. As a seasoned Counselor working with families of divorce, I view divorce not being a time -limited or single stressful event for children. It is more of a continuous weakening of their safety, emotional security, and value of self. Divorce is complex for all, and an emotional journey, some which may be easier to navigate but others may be filled with turmoil for years. To ensure the process of healing and coping, restructuring old relationships and building new ones during a divorce there needs to be a collaboration between children and their parents, open communication between all parties, tools to help families shape the course and direction of the divorce in a more positive manner, and the need for more professionals to take on guiding parents and children through the process, and aiding them to establish and carry out a coparenting plan that will give the children their best chance in life. Dawn Williams is a Board of Director at Kids First Parents Second and a licensed family therapist. For more information about Dawn Williams visit her website at http://www.fourcscounseling.com/about- dawn. 61
RESOURCES TO HELP YOUNG CHILDREN
FROM KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND
Grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers! Visit our Kids First Parents Second website and click on Our Path To Courage Acivity Page. Our page provides free downloads to help kids of divorce. These kids will have questions. Help them look for an answer. Our Path to Courage is designed to help kids start engaging, participating and vocalizing their feelings.
For Kids 4-5
EMPOWERING AND BUILDING RESILIENCY “KIDS LOVE COUPONS!” Kids First Parent Second developed
children of divorce using the characters from our
book, “Mommy and Daddy Troubles.” Kids love coupons, who knew? Kids can print off the
Sometimes kids just miss their parents. A free pass coupon lets young kids know that a phone call to Mom or Dad is just a coupon away.
coupons we provided or BETTER YET they can create their own!
EMPOWERING AND BUILDING RESILIENCY “KIDS NIGHT OUT” Share your “Kids Night Out” Stories with us on Facebook At Kids First Parents Second
KIDS NIGHT OUT Sometimes kids need a break. A “Kids Night Out” coupon is one where the child gets to say “I’m important, let's do something for me tonight!”
KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND is a 501c(3) Organization WE HELP CHILDREN AFFECTED BY DIVORCE
Mommy Daddy Troubles is a book designed to help children four on up understand that divorce was never their fault. Mommy and Daddy Troubles is available for purchase on Amazon.com
The film and parentsâ€™ guide that canâ€Ś
Stream or purchase the DVD and Parents Guide at
Nick and Emily’s parents are divorcing. Unable to agree on custody, the parents are relying on the court to make that decision for them. But Nick and Emily become overwhelmed by a custody evaluation process that humiliates, frightens and compromises them… and threatens their own relationship aswell.
“This wonderful film… will provide insight and great assistance. WATCH IT AND LEARN! ALAN DERSHOWITZ, Harvard University Professor of Law “Talk to Strangers is the film every parent contemplating or in child custody litigation should see.” THE HON. PAULA KURSHNER Family Court Judge, Multnomah County, OR (Ret.) “The AAML does not typically endorse outside products, but we felt so strongly about Talk to Strangers that we sought out filmmaker Larry Streaky to join in his efforts. It is truly one of the most powerful tools I have seen…” JAMES T. MCLAREN, president: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers “…Talk to Strangers, both the film and the pocket guide, are wonderful! The voices of the children speak louder than any educational program….” ROBIN M. DEUTSCH, PH. D, past president: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts “… [Talk to Strangers] succeeds in portraying [the custody evaluation process] process as bewildering and destructive… a useful discussion starter tool for therapists, clergy or counselors.” THE LIBRARY JOURNAL “A MUST-SEE for parents and counsel involved in this terrible process known as custody litigation.” ARTHUR BALBIRER, past president: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Talk to Strangers depicts the price of unnecessary child-relatedlitigation.
The Talk to Strangers Parents’ Pocket Guide provides
Each film is accompanied by a Guide to help parents avoid custody battles.
“With an unusual degree of sensitivity and subtlety, this wonderful film captures the confusion and anguish that kids often experience in contested divorces, even when all the adults ‘behave’." ROBERT HORWITZ, PH. D; past president, Connecticut Psychological Association Connecticut Council for Divorce Mediation “Congratulations Larry Streaky for an excellent film dispelling myths about child custody conflict…” TERRY MCNIFF, Esq., Author: Picture Your Divorce to See the Right Decisions “This film hit so close to home for me, that it actually caused me to tear up several times.” MARK BAER, Esq., Huffington Post Contributor Written and directed by award-winning screenwriter/filmmaker Larry Streaky with an original score by Emmy and Grammy Award winner
CHILD CUSTODY MYTHS THAT PUT CHILDREN OF DIVORCE AT RISK Larry Sarefsky, Esq.
In light of the surge of interest in Talk to Strangers following its endorsement by The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and its screening at the annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in January, I’m republishing this post concerning 2 of the 8 child custody myths that are articulated, and subsequently debunked during the film. Separating parents need to understand how these myths underestimate the impact on children of child-related court battles. Myth #1: “Judges Protect Children During Divorce.” The Truth: As with all the myths about children and the courts, this one sounds reasonable enough. But as a rule, judges don’t monitor how the kids are doing as their parents’ case works its way through the system. Even in custody, parentage, or childaccess cases in which judges eventually do become directly involved with children’s issues, that involvement usually doesn’t begin until trial is imminent. And that’s too late to protect children from the kind of emotional harm that high-conflict divorce can cause. We know that custody battles are bad for kids. The reason seems obvious enough: Prolonged high levels of parental conflict are toxic to children. But there’s more to it than that. Battles over children (“fully contested divorces”) deprive those children of the very things they need most. What are those needs? A “Top 4 List” of children’s needs during divorce would read something like this: ➢ ➢ ➢ ➢
An end to their parents’ fighting An end to uncertainty about where and with whom they will be living A return to some degree of normalcy in their lives Security in knowing that their parents will continue to love and care for them
And here’s the thing: Custody/access battles deprive children of all of the above. In fully contested cases, children experience prolonged conflict, uncertainty and highly dysfunctional parenting. Slowly but surely, normalcy and security become distant memories for those children. It’s true that at trial, family judges try to act in the children’s best interests. But that doesn’t erase the impact of months of anxiety and stress for children whose parents are often too embroiled in their own conflict to attend to them. 69
Nor can judges spare children the rigors of the custody evaluation process. Judges don’t supervise that process; by the time a case comes to trial, it’s been completed. Interviews by court services counselors, attorneys or mental health professionals—no matter how well intentioned or how adeptly performed—can be terribly intrusive and intensely embarrassing to children. In many other ways, large and small, children’s lives are disrupted by the prolongation of their parents’ divorce that occurs in fully contested cases. No one can protect children from that except parents dedicated to working out their differences for their children’s benefit. Myth #2: “The custody evaluation process is designed to protect children.” The Truth: The custody evaluation process is not designed to protect children. It is designed to gather information for the court. And that process intrudes mightily into children’s lives. Many of such intrusions go unnoticed. An extracurricular activity missed while a child meets with an attorney or custody evaluator, or a play-date prevented by an inflexible visitation schedule, might not seem like a big deal. But for children already reeling from the break-up of their family, the cumulative effect of such disruptions can be profound. Dedicated professionals in high-conflict cases try to spare children unnecessary hardship. But of those professionals, only the children's counsel, guardian’s ad litem, or in some jurisdictions parenting coordinators act solely on behalf of children. Court services counselors and mental health evaluators are undoubtedly concerned with what is best for the children. But again, their role is to provide information and assessments for judges to use in deciding child-related issues. Their role is not to protect children from the stress and anxiety they experience while awaiting those decisions, and often for many years afterward. The truth is that no one can fully protect children from the risk of emotional harm in fully contested cases. Where children are at risk due to factors such as a parent’s mental illness or untreated substance abuse, court intervention is often necessary. Absent that, parents and their counsel have an obligation to children to try to resolve child-related issues as quickly as possible. Visit http://ChildCustodyFilm.com to learn more about protecting children of separating parents, and to preview the Tally Award-winning film, Talk to Strangers, a powerful new tool to avoid unnecessary child custody and access litigation. © Laurence Sarefsky 2015
Larry Sarefzky Larry Sarefzky is a family law attorney and an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. He is a past Chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Family Law Section and member of the CBA’s Liaison with the State Courts Committee, a think tank of leading members of the Connecticut bar and judiciary. During a 35-year legal career, Larry’s family law clients have ranged from indigents to Fortune 500 CEOs, Baseball Hall of Famers and Oscar, Grammy and Emmy Award winners. Larry’s screenwriting and directing credits include the highly acclaimed Talk to Strangers, a Tally Award-winning short film depicting the impact of child-related litigation upon children. The film is currently being used by judges, lawyers, law professors, therapists, mediation trainers, and other professionals throughout the U.S. and abroad. Talk to Strangers has been featured at national conferences of The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, The American Psychoanalytic Association, and The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which is partnering with Larry in the film’s distribution. Larry also authored the film’s companion booklet, The Talk to Strangers Pocket Guide for Parents, which offers parents conflict-avoidance and consensus building strategies to avoid high-conflict divorce. Larry’s new divorce “how-to” book, Divorce, simply Stated is slated for publication in April 2016. Besides the basics of divorce law and finance, the book contains rarely shared insights and insider’s tips from a veteran divorce lawyer designed to help readers maximize results while minimizing the financial and emotional costs of divorce. Larry is currently working on an audiobook primer for family court witnesses entitled Become Your Own Star Witness: Mastering the Art of Testimony in Divorce. Larry’s legal skills have been hailed by judges and clients alike (“a master negotiator”—Frank T. Cary, former IBM C.E.O). In 2003, CT Supreme Court Justice Peter T. Zanelli used a Hartford Courant Op Ed piece written by Larry to win adoption of a court rule mandating confidentiality for divorce financial affidavits. Larry has spoken on family law issues to bar associations and other groups of lawyers, judges and laymen across the U.S. His writing on family law has been featured in The Huffington Post, The CBA’s Connecticut Lawyer, ezinearticles.com, divorcedmoms.com and numerous other on-line venues. To view the film trailer, read a parents’ guide excerpt, and stream or purchase the Talk to Strangers DVD, visitwww.ChildCustodyFilm.com Visit www.DivorceResourcesSite.com to read an excerpt from and order Divorce,
Children from Divorced Homes reflect years later....
HowDidMyParentsâ€™DivorceAffect Me? The Broken Circle Project 72
My sister and I grew up in a family with a single pillar that was my mother; supported always and unconditionally by my maternal grandmother. When I am asked if this has affected me, I usually say I doubt it, but I know that it has. I think perhaps it has affected my way of thinking, of not needing a man to do “men’s” stuff, and also no fear of raising a child by my own if I don’t have a partner, etc. It is difficult to know whether my life would have been better if my father had been with us during these years, but surely it would have been different. I respect both of my parents, but give special thanks to my mother - for the courage, strength and her unconditional support to motivate us to move forward. Clara
My parents' divorce has impacted my life in multiple ways. While people often attach negative connotations to divorce and the repercussions it can have on families, there are a lot of positive outcomes that have evolved in my life because of my parentsâ€™ separation. The reality is that people change, relationships do not always last forever, and it is often more detrimental for kids to live in a chaotic home with two adults trying to make a bad marriage work than to just move on. I truly believe that the divorce has made me a stronger, more flexible, and open-minded person. I am grateful to both of my parents for the impressions they have made on my life, for introducing me to other adults who have cared for and supported me, and for making an effort not to allow their own differences to get in the way of my relationships with them.
SURVIVOR TALES FROM KIDS OF DIVORCE
BROKEN CIRCLE PROJECT
Available on Amazon.com
PRESENTING THE "AMICABLE APP" FOCUS ON THE FUTURE WITHOUT DWELLING ON THE PAST
AMICABLE APP COMING IN APRIL 2016!
ESTABLISH GOALS FOR HOW YOU EXPECT TO PARENT YOUR CHILDREN
AMICABLE APP OFFERS SUGGESTIONS
We believe that once a couple has made the difficult decision to divorce, whatever the reasons, the emphasis should be on separating in the least painful way possible and, if children are involved, putting them first. We designed amicable in order to help couples reach fairer agreements, promote their parenting relationship and save time and money. Amicable can help with the practical process so you can focus on getting through the emotional rollercoaster.
Start a dialogue with your partner by inviting them to join the process and sharing information with them. Have a complete set of your information in the same place available to use if you need to speak to a mediator, lawyer or one of your divorce coaches. Do all this using your mobile phone, at times and in places to suit you.
Create a parenting plan using our pre-filled list of things you need to consider or creating your own suggestions for the best way to care for your children and sharing these with your partner. Collect all of your financial information, including assets, income and outgoings in your own time. Create proposals for how your assets could be fairly divided and understand what you need to live on each month.
THE TALE OF TWO GRANDPARENTS I. The Tale of the Over Protective Grandmother
Grandparents have the power to help parents focus and be
“I am taking my daughters side in this, no matter more resilient during what.” One Grandma exclaimed. Her daughter Jodie had really gone through a lot with her husband John and it was the divorce process. finally time for all this nonsense to end. Grandma saw the divorce as a time to get even with John for all the things he did against her family during his marriage to Jodie. “John does not need to see the kids until court” Grandma told Jodie “It’s better for them to start to move on with their life.” Divorce was not something that Grandma was used to. She and her husband had been married together for over three decades. No one in her family had been divorced before. Grandma thought little of John and was embarrassed that he had ever been in her family. Grandma took her daughter to the law offices of a few attorneys she knew who were part of her congregation. Grandma provided the retainer for the lawyer and gave him instructions on how she wanted her daughter’s divorce to proceed. During the divorce Jodie’s life was dictated by Grandma’s rules. John was not allowed to either call or see his children until he obtained an attorney. II. The New Age Grandfather “Don’t think I’m taking sides between you two.” Grandpa said. “John, when you are coming to town to visit, you’re going to stay at my house and visit the kids. It doesn’t make any sense for you to pay for a hotel when you have that child support obligation to pay.” Grandpa kept on, “Jodie if John’s over here I don’t want to hear you to arguing
with one another, the kids do not hear all that.” Grandpa continued “John, why aren’t you calling your kids during the week anyway?” III. The Power of a Grandparent Grandparents set a powerful tone for parents of divorce, especially when they are young parents. Given the two tales presented, what type of Grandparent do you want to be?
Recommended Checklist for Grandparents ___
Take your grandchildren out for a night out. Help them understand your role is to listen to their needs and not judge either parent. Make sure to engage with them OUTSIDE the presence of their parents.
_____ Call the other set of grandparents. Help them understand you are here to solve problems not create them. If you have pictures of your grandchildren NOW is a good time to share them.
Listen to both parents and try to understand where they are coming from. What are their wants and needs?
Show the parents ways to problem s o l v e through their issues. Move the parents away from civil litigation, if at all possible.
Make sure to invite EITHER parent to sit with you during any activities that the child is involved in. See your grandchild’s face when you are all sitting down together and supporting them. I am a Grandparent and I am awesome!
LITIGATE MEDIATE COLLABORATE
You have a choice! Kids First Parents Second invites you take “UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHOICE: A BETTER DIVORCE”
That’s a wrap! As Executive Director for Kids First Parents Second I wanted to extend a special thank you to every one subscribing to our first edition of Transitions magazine. It is my hope that our first edition of “Transitions” will inspire parents to look for ways to problem solve their way out of their divorce dispute. I wanted to extend thanks to those individuals and organizations that inspired us and pushed us to create
Transitions magazine. Specials thank you to Jai Kissoon at our Family Wizard and to Karen Bonnell. Thank you for believing in this project and making it a reality. We wanted to thank Google for allowing us to spread our message across the U.S. and the U.K. With your continued help we will change the world.
Matt Sossi ----------------------------------------------Matt Sossi has been a family law attorney in San Antonio, Texas since 1992. Matt is an advocate of using collaborative techniques to problem solve and minimize conflict during the divorce process.
LET US CONTINUE OUR WORK! HELP KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND, A 501C(3) REGISTERED NONPROFIT CONTINUE TO CREATE AND DISTRIBUTE RESOURCES FOR
*FAMILIES INVOLVED IN DIVORCE *BLENDED FAMILIES *EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE *BULLYING
Coming in June 2016
Transitions Magazine Promoting Emotional Intelligence Programs for Children and Teens
"Transitions Magazine offers educational resources to help families become resilient during life's changes." Rebecca Sossi President Kids First Parents Second
Kids First Parents Second is a 501c(3) registered nonprofit organization Officers serving on the board: Board of Directors:
Rebecca Sossi President
Dr. Richard Theis
Robin Pittman Vice President Ama Osui Bonsui
Transitions Magazine is a resource for the divorcing family. Transitions magazine is brought to you by Kids First Parents Second, a 501c(3)...
Published on Apr 6, 2016
Transitions Magazine is a resource for the divorcing family. Transitions magazine is brought to you by Kids First Parents Second, a 501c(3)...