Divorce and the Holiday Season

Q. “The holiday season is coming up and I’m recently separated. I have two school-age boys. My stomach feels like a knot thinking how different the holidays are going to be now for them. Is there some way to make it easier?”

A. Family holidays are supposed to be relaxing and stress-free, but often they aren’t. Planning family holidays is a particular challenge for the millions of divorced families out there. In fact, one out of three Americans is part of a blended family (and I suspect the statistics are similar for Canadians).

Divorced families face an even bigger challenge with holiday planning with children shuttling back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s house. There are all those logistical questions. Whose turn is it to have the children for Christmas morning? What if both parents are having a turkey dinner on the same day? How do you handle summer break? What do you do if you end up solo on a major family celebration day?

The key for separated families, like yours, is to doing some advance planning and preparation. Without that, holidays can end up being a time for stress and re-opening of old wounds instead of a time to relax and unwind, both for divorced parents and their children. There are some tips I can offer to make it a bit easier. First of all, instead of planning your holidays one at a time, … Continue reading

Divorce in a Small Town

Question:

“I live in a small community. My biggest challenge is I am always seeing my ex and the woman he had an affair with and married on a weekly basis because of the children’s activities. I feel like I can’t “get over” my divorce because I am kept inflamed constantly in the present.”

Answer:

Living in a small community where “everybody knows your name” can pose an additional challenge to those trying to rebuild their life after divorce, particularly when your ex and his partner seem to be omnipresent. Nonetheless, the basic principles of thriving after divorce … Continue reading

Stop Lying, Making Excuses and Blaming – Why You Need to Own Your Results

Guest Article: Carla Young, MOMeoMagazine.com

Ever listen to a conspiracy zealot explain how the absence of proof is even MORE proof of a conspiracy? It seems no amount of evidence to the contrary is sufficient to sway them from their firm belief that the world is out to get them.

That’s what you sound like when you dodge fault in every situation. This idea failed because the system wasn’t set up to allow your success, that campaign flopped because the economy crashed, this big thing never got off the ground because fill-in-the-blank.

The truth is that whenever you say things like “But I can’t do that” or “If only this would change, I could”, you are giving up before you even start. Even worse, you are giving up your power to change your world by leaving it to mysterious outside forces that may (or may not) smile on you.

Why You Need to Own Your Results

Let me be blunt. You can’t change what you don’t own and other than a piano falling on you and other very random occurrences, chances are you own every result. So when you make excuses and blame outside forces that are beyond your control, you get stuck with the same bad results because of the problems you refuse to own.

To learn the 5 reasons why you need to own your results.

#1: You can’t see the real problem – If you don’t own your results (or rather the hand you played in them), you can only see the symptoms and never the real underlying problem.

#2: You can’t learn from what you don’t own – People make mistakes – accept that fact and get over it. The next step is to learn something from it. Start connecting the dots. What was the chain of events that lead to the catastrophic failure? Now you know for next time and that’s a powerful tool.

#3: You can’t fix what you don’t own – You can change everything around the problem, but if you are the cause (or somewhat responsible) the problem will continue to exist because you are the weakness link.

#4: You can’t seek advice on what you don’t own – What is your adviser to say when you tell him or her that all these random bad things just happen to you for no apparent reason? Probably something like “That’s terrible. Better luck in the future.” Owning your results gives you the tools to seek relevant advice.

#5: You can’t move forward from what you don’t own – No ownership means no growth and that means you are suck repeating the same bad habits again and again and again.

Carla Young is Founder and CEO of MOMeoMagazine.com and MOMeoCommunity.com. If there’s living proof that women can have it all – and then some – it’s Carla Young. Building her multiple businesses on a virtual work-at-home model, Carla is an inspiration to other mothers who want to start a lifestyle business. Realizing that “doing it all” was unhealthy and unsustainable, Carla started by getting organized to the extreme, developing support systems for both her work and family. She is dedicated to supporting moms at work, at home and at play (because every mommy deserves a little me-time)!

Finding Your Balance After Divorce

Q. “My question is really an intricate combination of how to keep myself in balance and go forward instead of wallowing in rumination about being unemployed, parenting three kids (9, 11, & 16) and navigating the mediation process all at the same time! My house is a disorganized mess, my finances are slim and uncertain, and the kids are struggling with self-image, anger and silence. It’s hard to even get up in the morning, especially those days I’m alone.”

A. You are certainly in the thick of the upheaval that separation and divorce can create. I remember those days well and it can be a very bumpy road. Divorce is like having a tornado touch down and hit your life. Every major part of your life – your children, finances, friends, emotional state – feel like they have been strewn about. The stress from all of this is enormous, so I really honor you for asking this question and reaching out for support. While I can’t answer everything you’ve asked here, let me at least identify a key priority area for you and recommend some useful resources to get you started.

There are so many moving parts here, it can feel overwhelming to even know how to begin. The first piece of the divorce puzzle that I recommend you attend to is yourself. Your self-care practices are critical. You can get stretched very thin as you cope with lawyers, finances, children and your own feelings about your separation. The unfortunate thing about divorce is that you’re asked to make such important choices at a time when your emotions are running high. And when emotions run high, the ability to make considered and savvy decisions tends to run low. By ensuring you do whatever you can to recharge your batteries, it will help to stabilize you and support you in dealing with all the other important relationships and issues you are currently facing.

What does that look like if you were to uplevel your self care? Start writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal instead of bottling them up. Simple and inexpensive things like taking a walk in nature or getting yourself flowers can help. Ask for help from family and friends in specific ways. For example, having a clutter busting party at your home might help you get an important “win” in short order. You may want to reach out to trusted friends or a divorce coach for support.

In my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit, I address this subject specifically and there’s even a checklist with 52 easy, inexpensive self-care strategies in it. There are also many tips and principles there to help you create your own road map through divorce, and to help you set your priorities. I would also recommend “The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What To Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce.” This award-winning book addresses many of the issues you are facing with your children, and will help you to cut your learning curve of being a divorced parent considerably.

The bottom line here? Take it one step, and one day at a time. Be gentle and caring with yourself. Don’t try to take on everything at the same time. And above all, don’t reinvent the wheel on how to cope with all the issues divorce is raising for you. There are so many great resources available to help you.

WANT TO ASK A QUESTION?

Ask your question, in confidence, by clicking here or you may email us. We’ll answer your question in upcoming issues!

Divorce and Separation: Crying in Front of the Children

Q. “How can I stop crying so that I can function in my life and my job, and is it ok for my kids to see me crying?”

A. Crying, grieving and feeling the loss of your relationship and the loss of your dreams of “living happily ever after” with one person is normal. It’s important to feel all of your emotions fully instead of trying to stuff them down or ignore them. Tears are not a sign of weakness. It’s been said that tears are simply the ice around our hearts melting.

We are important role models for our children about how to be responsible for our own emotional well-being. If you find yourself in tears in front of the children, let them know you’re feeling sad and that it’s normal to cry if you’re feeling sad. This normalizes their experience and gives them permission to fully feel and express their emotions as well.

Explain to your children that feelings simply move through us. It is healthy for us to give them an outlet so we don’t get… Continue reading

Divorce and Separation: When Your Ex Badmouths You To Your Children

Q. “How do I maintain a good relationship with my son who is regularly exposed to negative talk about me from his father?

A. This is a great question and unfortunately it is an issue that way too many separated parents have to deal with. Badmouthing, criticizing, or gossiping about one parent to the children hurts the children far more than it hurts the parent who is being criticized. Children see themselves as a product of both mom and dad. When one parent is derided by the other, the children quickly conclude that there may be something wrong about them too.

I would recommend a two-pronged approach. First, focus on building … Continue reading

Divorce and Children: Should You Put on a Happy Face?

Q. “My head knows my relationship is over but my heart has yet to catch up. I’m not sure how to grieve. My children (3 are adults and live with me) dislike seeing me sad at any time. Should I put on a happy face in front of them?

A. Having your heart and head synch up and fully realize that your marriage is over is often a challenge. In some cases, our hearts feel that the connection and love are gone, but the head can rationalize that the relationship is “perfectly fine.” In your case, your mind is being practical and accepting of the end of the relationship, but your heart is still aching and in grief. That is quite normal. I encourage you to find ways to honor your grief and your emotions, rather than trying to manage over them by keeping up a happy front for the sake of your children.

There is no way around it. Divorce is a time of great emotional upheaval. Divorce is also an opportunity for us to learn about how to be resilient emotionally and discover wisdom and strength that we may not have know that we had. It is an opportunity to give expression to your feelings so that you can move your way through them, rather than repressing or denying them. It is also a time to consider what… Continue reading

Divorce and Separation: Can Ex-Spouses Still be Friends?

Q. “How do I cope with my husband moving on and no longer sharing a friendship after 22 years together? How do I make sure my little boy is OK and doesn’t find it too hard?

A. One important dynamic In divorce is that partners will work through the emotional stages of the divorce process often at very different paces. The one who initiates the divorce has had more time to process and come to terms with a life and an identity outside the marriage. The one who is left behind struggles not only with the loss of the relationship and the dreams of living happily ever after, but also must cope with the shock of being passed over or possibly replaced by someone else.

From your question, I must assume that your husband initiated the divorce and that is why this is feeling particularly difficult for you. I would recommend that instead of seeing you and your ex as friends, … Continue reading

Divorce: Father’s Day Without My Children

Q. “My ex and I now live in different cities and it’s hard to be a non-custodial father. I find days like Father’s Day especially hard when they’re not with me. How do I build my relationship with my kids when I see them mostly in summer and major holidays?”

A. Being a non-custodial parent isn’t easy, but I believe it is definitely possible to be connected and an important part of your children’s lives. Certainly occasions like these Hallmark holidays of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can end up feeling like more salt in a wound if you’re not prepared.

Keeping current on your children’s quickly evolving lives requires a commitment of time and energy. Luckily with advances in technology, there are many ways to keep in tune with the latest and greatest developments and interests of your children. Phone calls are clearly simple to do, but not always in fashion with the teen crowd. Options like email, text messaging and skype offer immediacy and connection in a format that many children nowadays like to communicate. The option of video skype offers the chance for

Continue reading

Dating and Divorce: Introducing The New Partner

Q. I’ve just started to date casually and I’m not sure how much I should share with my boys, who are 10 and 13. What’s the best way to introduce a new partner to my children?

A. If you’re getting out into the dating world, I recommend you give yourself permission to have fun and enjoy yourself first. Trust your own gut on how much and how often you need to share about how this part of your life is developing. You definitely don’t need to share the daily ups and downs with your children. Let your children know that you have a social life and that you are meeting new friends. This tells them you have a life outside of your children that makes you happy and most children want to see their parents happy. Keep it light and open and… Continue reading