EMBRACING A CHILD-CENTERED DIVORCE: BECAUSE YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN
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They need your love — and mature, responsible parenting — more than ever before. Need immediate help? Contact me to discuss a Coaching session to give you the skills you need to get on with your life with pride. That's a gift to give yourself as well as your kids.
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- The “Extended-Blended” Families: Child-Centric Post-Divorce Parenting in 2010.
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Sharing adult information with your kids, even teens. Instead, reach out to a therapist or divorce coach for professional help and support. Confide in your friends — not your kids! As tempting as it may be, minimize the conversations about the why behind the divorce.
Focus instead on the continuation of your family as a family — even after the divorce — and the co-parenting your children can expect ahead. Badmouthing your husband or ex, around or within hearing of the children. That includes phone calls, talking to the neighbors or quarreling in another room.
Your divorce issues are adult issues. Children love both of their parents. They are confused and hurt emotionally and psychologically when they hear one parent put down the other. They feel guilty for loving that other parent. Are they wrong? Do they have to take sides? It puts enormous pressure on kids — even teens. When you feel like exploding, vent to friends, family, therapists or coaches! Forgetting to work on your self-esteem first. Remember, the OW has nothing to do with your value as a person or a wife. Find ways to embrace your new life, to move on and open the door to your happier future.
Do the inner work first so when you are ready you will attract a new partner worthy of you! Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. Alternatively, chat-rooms, forums and message boards are a great place to meet other like-minded individuals in the same position. Whether they live in another state or another country, you can still build deep, understanding relationships.
Sometimes you simply need to escape reality for a moment. Reaching over to your bookshelf is one way to ease the burden of loneliness and help you make sense of your situation. Whether fiction or non-fiction, a good book will take your mind off things for a while. Written by Susan Stiffelman, marriage and family therapist, licensed psychotherapist and Huffington Post contributor. Single Parenting that Works! While families and friends can be a source of comfort, encouragement and love when you're going through a separation, your feelings can put them under a great deal of strain. This can eventually make them feel isolated and alone.
Counseling is a viable option in all stages of divorce, from your initial thoughts about separation, all the way up to forming a "new" family. Fundamentally, counselors are there to counsel; they won't make decisions on your behalf, but they can certainly offer actionable advice. Keep proactive, especially during your days off. Try some of the things that you've always wanted to, but never had the time or energy to tackle in the past: keep a diary, start running, join a local club — anything to keep both your mind and body active. If you have a physical or psychological disability that affects your ability to earn money, you may be entitled to housing grants and assistants from both public and private sources.
The U. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a Voucher Program and Family Unification Program that offers low-income families financial aid when lack of housing could cause a separation. In addition, private non-profit organization Mercy Housing operates in several states and can provide affordable rental apartments and homes to disabled parents.
Note: eligibility depends on income, age and disability. When all is said and done, try to keep negativity to a minimum, and don't forget to take care of yourself! We all need to vent every once in a while. Try to think of your separation as the beginning of something new, positive, and exciting, rather than an end. To apply effective discipline, you must focus on the underlying issue. Making rash decisions or overreacting when you're tired and frustrated will cause you problems later. Whether at your house or your ex's house, disciplinary actions must be consistent.
When children have to abide by different sets of rules, it can be confusing, especially if one parent is more lax than the other. The "good cop, bad cop" roles create tension and your children may start measuring love with time and discipline. Enforcing rules is difficult. Sometimes it's simply easier to sigh and let your children carry on watching television past their bedtime. After all, you've already had your fair share of conflict.
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Do not let the power dynamic shift in their favor. It's not fair on you or your ex. Remember, you are the parent; therefore, you have authority. Trying to always be a friend to your children can backfire and result in a loss of respect. Work with your ex to establish a list of suitable disciplinary actions, ensuring the rules are consistent between each households. Having a "chore-chart" in each house that highlights what your children must do is an effective solution. Enforce your ex's disciplinary actions in your house as well.
For example, if your husband has deemed grounding an appropriate action for bad language, but your child is scheduled to stay at your house the day after, the grounding should remain in place. Prepare yourself for the, "But dad lets us stay up late on a Saturdays" comparisons. No matter how much you try to establish a strict set of rules, they will inevitably be broken every once in a while. Don't give in to your children to prove that you're just as "fun" as your ex.
Remain stern when faced with bad behavior, "Your father and I have different opinions. When you're here, that's the way it's going to be. Everybody has positive characteristics. Focus on your strengths and you will instill them into your children. In addition, identify areas that you'd like to improve. Acknowledging a weakness is the first step towards seeking a solution. If you have a lack of personal time, financial problems or struggle to retain order and discipline around the house, accept the challenge and find a way to tackle it head on.
No matter how tough life is as a single parent, there's always a solution. The work of academics shows that marriage isn't paramount to a child's well-being, but rather loving relationships and order at home, be it in one or multiple households. Even if you don't get along with your ex, acknowledge their positive traits and allow them to express their loving feelings as frequently and openly as possible.
The separation process is hard enough, but being disconnected from your children is much tougher. This is a very real experience for many parents who aren't together. You may be used to the idea of moving — the average American family relocates every five years — but moving without your children presents a brand new set of challenges. Whether you're moving for work related reasons, a new relationship or the need to be with close friends and family — all of these reasons are perfectly valid — it's important that you understand what you're giving up.
You have to schedule holidays, have little quality time, and aren't around for the mundane elements of life that naturally build closeness. Children need both their mother and father's perspectives and outlook on life. When you're not around, your children are more likely to seek advice from who they live with. If you are the bridge between your children and their extended family aunts, uncles, cousins , your lack of presence may affect their ability to see them.
When your children have to travel to see you, they may miss out on other extracurricular activities, such as hanging out with friends and playing sports. Communication is most important. While proximity helps, even parents living in the same house as their children can struggle to maintain solid relationships. Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever before for long-distance parenting to work.
Florida Divorce Parenting Class
Such as scout leaders, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors. This will not only provide an excellent point of conversation, but will show them that you care. Therefore, you shouldn't sit back and wait for them to call or write. Don't take it personally if your children don't respond to your messages straight away. It's pretty normal for kids to get wrapped up in other thoughts, especially if they're going through adolescence. There's nothing more disheartening for children than not receiving the phone call they were promised.
Let them know that they can count on you, even when you're away. Rather than asking your children "Did you enjoy soccer practice today? Use every contact method available to you, even snail mail! In today's high-tech world, receiving a handwritten letter can be quite the thrill. While virtual contact will never replace your real, physical presence, it's much more personal than telephoning, emailing or using social networks. Do you like the same sports, television shows or video games? If you share a passion for something, discuss it.
Chess, backgammon and other board games can be great fun over the phone, and sure to keep you and your children entertained for hours. My Baby Book. Digital baby book that records milestones in your child's life and compiles them into a collection. Video call service with a comprehensive collection of on-screen fairy tales and classics, allowing you to read your children a bedtime story from anywhere. As the custodial parent, you should actively encourage communication.
There are some things in life that are best discussed with a female figure, and others that are best discussed with a male. For example, a girl going through puberty will probably feel more comfortable discussing their health any hygiene with their mother; while a teenage boy who's started growing hairs on his chin might want his dad to teach him how to shave. When children are wrapped up in their own thoughts, their scheduled call could easily be forgotten. Let them know what's going on with your children. Share information about their grades, health and social life.
Do your part with regards to the travel arrangements and make the process as simple as possible for your children: pack their bags, print their bus tickets, make their lunch — whatever you can to make it an enjoyable experience. When your child is on the phone or chatting over the web, give them space to express themselves.
They may want to discuss private personal feelings and problems with their non-custodial parent. Read the same book or watch the same television program as the other parent so you can both continue where each other leaves off. Fundamentally, cooperation is the core of effective long-distance parenting. As long as you and your ex can keep communication between all parties calm, civil and frequent, relationships will thrive. Every year thousands of single parents are deployed for active military duty.
Military law differs from state law; therefore, the child support, custody arrangements and rights that you are used to may not apply.
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Instead, the military court works with the state to determine the most suitable course of action. Most departments in the U. Armed Forces require single parents to relinquish custody of their children in order to enlist. This may sound shocking, but due to the time, commitment and unstable living situations, it would be impossible to provide adequate child care. Relinquishing custody doesn't mean abandonment. You could transfer custody to the other parent, relative, or even a family friend providing you have consent from the other parent.
If you decide to leave the military, you can request for custody again. However, if the other parent or guardian objects, your request will likely be declined. For up-to-date military parenting resources, visit: MilitaryOneSource. It's important to differentiate what's considered "normal" and "troubled" behavior. Acting out doesn't always constitute drastic action. It's perfectly normal for children to misbehave every once in a while, especially when they approach adolescence. Some children do develop behavioral problems as a result of separation.
If this occurs, it's important that both parents take the necessary steps to resolve conflict as soon as possible. Violent behavior is a growing problem. With movies, video games, books, web sites — virtually every form of media — glamorizing violence, children can become desensitized to it. Look out for warning signs: playing with weapons, threatening or bullying other children, violence to pets or animals, fantasizing about committing acts of crime.
If you're worried, seek aid from a social worker or counselor. Explain to your child that there's nothing wrong with feeling anger, but that the ways in which they're expressing it is unacceptable. When your child lashes out, take away their privileges temporarily, until they calm down and apologize. If you try to discuss your child's clothing or appearance, they'll almost certainly respond with hostility.
Instead of trying to "understand" a particular social trend that they might be following, discuss a mutual interest: sports, gossip, movies. When you both feel comfortable talking in a casual manner, other more personal topics will naturally follow. Sometimes all a troubled child needs is a place to call their own; somewhere they can hang up their gloves and calm down in peace and quiet. When they refuse to do chores or throw a tantrum, don't force an apology or raise your voice, just let them retreat to their own personal space to relax. This applies to the whole family.
Instead of lashing out at each other, find healthy ways to relieve stress and anger, such as exercise, team sports and martial arts.
Or for more creative ways to relieve tension, try introducing them to music, writing, drawing or dancing. Smart phones, tablets, television and video games won't cut it. While it's okay to indulge your children with pizza and fries every once in a while, keep junk food and soda to a minimum. Cook more meals at home, using fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies have proven that healthy eating stabilizes energy, sharpens the mind and reduces stress. Children become stressed and irritable when they don't get enough sleep.
This could also cause problems with weight, memory and concentration. Make sure your child gets at least hours of sleep by setting a consistent bedtime. If they have a video game console, television, tablet or smart phone, limit their use in the evenings and disable the Internet after a certain time. Most electronic gadgets and entertainment systems stimulate the mind, rather than relax it. When your child has an attitude problem, it's all-too-easy to overreact. Feeling stressed, angry or sad can cloud your better judgment and make it difficult to communicate.
Instead of responding on impulse, wait until you feel calm — you'll need all the positive energy you can muster. There's nothing worse than constantly fearing for your child's safety. Include in your parenting plan specific language for medical issues and records. Contingency plans that can be initiated from both households should be set up as soon as custody arrangements have been made.
Seek professional aid if you're preempting a future issue or can't cope alone. When a child's welfare is a stake, taking chances is never an option. The court can order supervised or restricted visitation if the judge believes that the child is endangered, either physically or psychologically. Supervised visitation takes place in the presence of a visitation monitor; someone who will oversee the interaction.
The purpose is to allow the child to establish a relationship with their parent in a safe and secure manner. There are various types of supervised visitation: in the presence of a family member, neighbor or child care provider; in the presence of the custodial parent; in the presence of a mental health supervisor; inside a professionally monitored location. The problem with choosing a supervisor is that parents will often select biased family members or friends. While it's paramount that somebody both parents will trust is present, children will sense tension. Try to select a neutral party who is willing to help: a member of your local church, a teacher from school if it's summer , a scout leader.
It's better to find somebody disconnected from the family and its troubles. Supervised visitation can feel humiliating. However, in most circumstances it will end after an evaluation period. The custodial parent can ask for an extension if they don't think that you're ready for unsupervised visitation; therefore, it's crucial that you follow the rules. Follow the visitation schedule accurately and on time. Only cancel if there is a serious emergency.
Focus on your children, not the custodial parent. Don't waste precious time talking about divorce or court; it should be a time for you and your child to build or rebuild personal connections. Bring books, toys and games if allowed , and plan how you'll spend your time together.
It's better to arrive over-prepared than under-prepared. Ask questions, but don't push for answers.
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Your children might not feel comfortable straight away, especially in the presence of somebody else. Follow the rules by the book. Respecting the process and listening to your supervisor could one day work in your favor. Supervised visitation can be a very strange experience for children.
Try to understand their position. They probably won't know the reason why your time together is restricted. When they ask difficult questions, don't allow your emotions to get the best of you. It's a frustrating scenario that you simply have to work through. When two families merge, the transition rarely goes smoothly. Both parents and children can become frustrated that the new family dynamic doesn't function in a familiar manner.
The adjustment takes time, but providing everybody treats each other with dignity and respect, the growing pains will eventually subside. Moving in with a new partner is an exciting experience. However, your children are probably worried about having new brothers and sisters; wondering if they'll have to call their step dad "dad"; and fearing for the well-being of their biological parent. Too many changes at once can be very unsettling. Ease into the family unit and don't expect to feel an instant, loving connection with your partner's children straight away — expect the same from them.
Start with recreational activities: a trip to a theme park, local swimming pool, or bowling alley. And then, slowly add activities that are more reflective of daily life: an evening dinner, watching a movie, a day of shopping. Again, take it slow. Agree with your partner the future step parent exactly how you both intend on parenting, and then start making small adjustments. Some children will open up straight away, while others can take years. A shy, introverted child will need more time, patience and interest than an extroverted child. Let everybody — children and adults — break out of their shell naturally.
Step parents should be considered more of a friend or counselor than a disciplinarian. Don't overstep the mark with your partner's children, or allow them to overstep the mark with yours. The biological parent should remain primarily responsible for discipline until a solid bond has been formed. Just like any other nuclear family, the key to making a successful blended family is respect, stability and compassion. Don't try to make your new family a replica of your old family; embrace the differences. As a step parent, you may not have as many legal rights regarding the placement, health and welfare, of your step children, but your moral roles and obligations should always remain.
In the event of divorce, you cannot petition for court custody as preference will always be given to the blood relative. Exceptions may be granted if you can provide a valid reason why the biological parent should not have custody, for example, if they are abusive or negligent. If you have an adopted child, the rights of their biological parents are terminated. You have exactly the same moral and legal obligations as any other blood parent; therefore, the litigation process is the same.
Custody arrangements for foster parents can vary between agencies. Licenses can be revoked if you or the other foster parent can no longer support the child financially. Some religious-affiliated agencies do not license unmarried couples, which could become a problem in the event of a divorce. However, the foster parent's circumstances and child's best interests will always be dealt with on an individual basis.
Raising children without a partner is a terrifying prospect, and an eventuality that few parents plan for. Regardless of your family circumstances — whether your partner is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties — with love, care, attentiveness and personal responsibility, there's no reason for your children not to have a positive upbringing.
It's important for children to have both male and female role models in their lives. Ask brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles for help — there's no shame admitting that you're struggling. Consider taking turns baby-sitting for other parents. Child "swapping" is especially beneficial if you don't have a family of trusted relatives willing to help. If you don't know any other single parents, contact the Extended Family charity. They will help you get in touch with other sole parent families and local support groups.
When you're a sole parent, it's easy to place your own feelings and emotional state at the bottom of your list of priorities. Don't feel guilty for wanting to have a time-out every once in a while. Balancing work, home, school runs, cooking, etc. Pushing yourself too hard could lead to an emotional or physical burnout; neither is healthy for your family. Find a quality childcare provider or babysitter to take the strain off your shoulders.
Don't let pride interfere with your right to receive financial support. Food, clothing, housing, transportation and medication are basic human rights. Plenty of sole parents struggle everyday to provide for their children. Admitting that you need help is admirable. Although the eligibility criteria and availability of financial assistance can vary depending on the state, try the following grants:. It's easy to dip into a state of social isolation. Balancing your time can be both physically and emotionally demanding, leaving you with no choice but to close yourself off from the world.
Don't just work around your schedule, squeezing in a coffee or phone call whenever you can; sometimes you have to make time for yourself. Custody agreements differ in length and detail. While some are generic pre-written forms that have simply been ticked, stamped and filed with the court, others may be more elaborate, containing pages of rules and provisions. Fundamentally, the most effective custody agreements are created by parents who strive to meet the needs of their children. Custody agreements should contain: provisions that address legal and physical custody, a process for reviewing the plan, a method for modifying the plan, a form of dispute resolution and a visitation schedule.
You can also choose to add other provisions as a precautionary measure. Establishing the rules in advance could save you and your ex a great deal of stress further down the line. There is no limit to the amount of extra stipulations you may include in your custody agreement.
If there are elements that you don't agree on, the judge can make a decision for you. However, be prepared to justify your concerns. For example, if you don't want your child around your ex's new girlfriend simply because you don't like her, your request will probably be denied. However, if the new girlfriend lost custody of her own children due to abuse and neglect, your request is more likely to be considered — you must bring proof.