The Smart Divorce® Weblog

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Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce

There’s a great new initiative  developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and Sesame Street which is an an important and valuable resource for parents, Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce . The program, featuring Muppet Abby Cadabby, provides tools and language to help young children (ages 2-8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level. Project resources include a free mobile app, online resources, and multimedia toolkits containing a children’s storybook, a caregiver guide, and a DVD. These materials are available online at sesamestreet.org/divorce and through the Resource Center on the AFCC website. Divorce can be a big challenge for both children and parents. Though times may be difficult, children can emerge feeling loved and supported. You can all grow through these family changes and discover just how strong you really are.

You are not alone. Family, friends, neighbors, and others are there to offer support. Here are some tools to help your child through your divorce.

To view this fabulous new program and for more details click here 

Information from the SesameWorkshop

Each year about 1.5 million children confront the divorce of their parents1, a transition that can be challenging for the entire family, especially young children. While 40% of families experience this, there are few resources to show children they are not the only ones with big questions and feelings about divorce.  In response, Sesame Workshop has launched Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, a series of free multi-media resources, to support families through this transition which can be very difficult, especially for young children. These new materials are a continuation of Sesame Workshop’s award-winning Military Families Initiative launched in 2006 that provides resources and emotional support to military families with children, ages 2 to 8, coping with challenging transitions in their lives.

As with all content produced by Sesame Workshop, this outreach initiative began with a thorough research process, which included consulting with an advisory board of key experts in child development, early childhood, and mental health fields to guide and shape key content messages. Continuing the process, Sesame Workshop conducted focus groups with parents and service providers to ensure that all of the resources effectively meet the needs of children and families.  Sesame Workshop created Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, in order to:

  • Provide tools and language to help young children (ages 2–8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level,
  • aid families in communicating and expressing feelings around divorce and
  • reassure children that they will be cared for, and that—together with their families—they can learn ways to adjust to their new life and have hope for the future.

“With our new resources on divorce, Sesame Workshop continues a 43-year-long history of tackling the most relevant and challenging issues for children,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “During difficult times, it’s vitally important that children feel supported and develop coping skills that will help them throughout their entire lives.  Sesame Workshop is committed to providing the highest quality resources to families dealing with life’s challenges.”

Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce includes:

  • A new Sesame Street DVD, featuring the Muppets and real families, that highlights strategies around expressing emotions and how to talk to children about divorce;
  • A Parent/Caregiver Guide providing helpful resources, language and advice for discussing divorce with children and helping them navigate changes;
  • A Children’s StorybookTwo-Hug Day, about a young boy named Niko who is transitioning between his parents’ two homes, and
  • An online toolkit at sesamestreet.org/divorce providing access to all project resources, as well as additional online-only materials:
    • An Extended Family & Friends tip sheet
    • Webinars and online discussion sessions giving service providers and families a thorough understanding of how to engage with their families and communities
    • A Facebook page called Sesame Street in Communities connecting our online community to Sesame’s resiliency messages and materials.
  • A mobile app: Sesame Street: Divorce, featuring resources and tools for parents and caregivers; available on the App Store (SM) and Google Play ™.

“With the frequency of children experiencing divorce and or separation today, it is critical to help children understand that the feelings or questions they may have are typical and should be discussed with a parent or caregiver, said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop.  “These strategies will help children cope with changes as well as support them in understanding they are not alone.”

The resource kits will be distributed to military and veteran families through partnerships with Military OneSource, Department of Veterans Affairs, The USO, and The Military Child Education Coalition. These resources are also being distributed to families in the general public through national partnerships with organizations such the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. On a local level, distribution will reach children and their families though faith-based programs, school and after school programs, through counseling and mental health services, parenting programs, and child care systems. Military families can contact Military OneSource directly at militaryonesource.mil to request a kit.


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Blended Families: Celebrating the holidays

How do you celebrate the holidays when blending families? With sensitivity and creativity, you can develop new traditions and routines. Read below to gain perspective and ideas.

Blended families: Celebrating the holidays

Today's ParentBy Dawn Calleja | Today’s Parent

 love Christmas. Yup, I’m one of those people: belting out schlocky tunes in the car, searching for the perfect ceiling-scraper of a tree, bawling my way through It’s a Wonderful Life. But the emotional and logistical strain wrapped up with the holidays at our house – courtesy of my husband’s four kids from two exes, in addition to our own two little ones – can bring out the Scrooge in me.

There was the time my husband’s then-five-year-old son called to tell us excitedly about the Pokémon toy Santa had delivered – the exact same one waiting for him under our tree. Or the year a tipsy ex-number-one called in the middle of our Christmas Eve party to shout that there was no way she was driving downtown to pick up the kids the next day. You get the picture.

Even for the most happily married couples, the holidays can be fraught with conflict and compromise. It can be exponentially more complicated for the approximately 776,000 Canadian parents who are divorced or separated and raising kids without a new partner. Then there are the blended families – almost 13 percent of Canada’s 3.7 million two-parent families are stepfamilies, like mine. Negotiating how to share the kids is never easy, but this is a time of year when it can be hardest to let go. “Christmas is a tough time because there is a lot of tradition and ritual around how the holidays are managed,” says Deborah Moskovitch, author of The Smart Divorce, a book she was inspired to write after her own acrimonious split. “But you have to share it. That’s how you have to look at effective co-parenting.”

Here’s how to ensure your festive season is filled with merriment – not resentment – this year. 

Make a plan

If you haven’t set a holiday schedule by the time you read this, do it now. “You don’t want the kids to have any angst about what they’re going to be doing at Christmas,” says Moskovitch, who also founded a divorce coaching service. Sit down with your ex and bring a calendar (and, if necessary, a neutral third party, like a professional mediator or trusted mutual friend) to figure out exactly how you’re going to divvy up the holiday break, right down to whether the kids are being picked up or dropped off, at what time, and the things they’ll need to pack. “It can be fluid and change, but it gets rid of any miscommunication,” says Moskovitch.

Trevor Pereira and his ex-wife made their Christmas schedule part of the separation agreement they drew up seven years ago. In even years, he has their two kids for Christmas Eve and morning, then hands them off at noon. In odd years, he picks them up from their mom’s house, still in their pyjamas, and takes them home for brunch and more presents. (To help avoid the aforementioned Pokémon scenario, Pereira and his ex go over the kids’ wish lists together each year to decide who’s going to buy what and how much they’ll spend.) “It’s sad either way,” admits Pereira, an IT specialist from Brantford, Ont. “Either you don’t have them in the morning or you don’t have them in the evening. But at least we both still see them on Christmas Day.”

Luckily for Pereira and his ex, they live in the same town. For co-parents who live in different cities, or even different provinces, it’s not so simple. If you have to kiss your kids goodbye for the entire holiday, says Moskovitch, “make sure you can call and talk to them. They’ll want to know you’re OK.”

To read the whole article click here

How did you blend your family…..please share your new traditions, routines and ideas.

Wishing you all the best for the holiday season!


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What Parents Can Learn From Hurricane Sandy

The Huffington Post Asked: Divorce professionals: Do you think Hurricane Sandy emphasizes the need for a disaster-preparedness plan between co-parents? Share your thoughts!

This was my response – 

Divorce Coach, Author, Speaker, Guide, Radio Host

The massive storm and colossal damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy caused major devastation for many. Yet, despite the pounding that so many experienced, the outpouring of help I read about was admirable, illustrating the importance of standing up in the face of adversity and supporting one another. The media did such an incredible job of depicting the rarely seen humanity of neighbors helping fellow neighbors. The also showed the lineups post-Sandy for pay phones as she cut all power, rendering cell phones useless for many.

This got me thinking about the many life events that, if not prepared for, could wreak havoc in our lives. What if there was a disaster — what would happen to our children? Who would be responsible for a rescue plan– me or their father? What if one of us became seriously ill, who would take care of our children? What about eldercare — if one of us co-parents suddenly had to take care of our parents for a short time and couldn’t focus on our children, who would? The list of “what ifs” became dizzying, as I began to think about the various scenarios that could cause colossal damage to our family life.

A disaster preparedness plan is something people don’t talk about; it’s something we probably don’t even think about. But there are lessons to be learned from this disaster. As a divorce coach, my role is to guide people to positive outcomes for a happier, healthier future. So I’m going to suggest to all of my coaching clients that they think of a “what if” plan in case of an emergency — a contingency plan for themselves and their children’s mental and physical health and well-being.

Having a plan will ensure that parents know who is responsible for what. Think about:

  • Who is going to be responsible for the children when calamity strikes if you are in the middle of other commitments.
  • A communication back up plan you can rely on.
  • “What if” scenarios and back-up plans in your parenting arrangement. Don’t wait to make a plan when crisis strikes, do it before; it’s like an insurance plan. You hope you never need it, but it’s there just in case. Make decisions when you are calm and can think straight, rather than when disaster strikes and you are panicked and can’t think.

Hurricane Sandy was nasty and caused long term and permanent damage. We could look at this storm metaphorically as a high conflict divorce. The storm represents the conflict between parents, and the devastation that results is inflicted upon the children, who might not come out unscathed. Perhaps this is the underlying message, that parents need to get along, co-parent and work through the storm and destruction together.

Forward thinking and having a plan will go a long way.

I wrote this article in response to a question posted by The Huffington Post: “Do you think Hurricane Sandy emphasizes the need for a disaster-preparedness plan between co-parents?” I shared my thoughts, now would love to hear yours.

This article first appeared in The Huffington Post

Deborah Moskovitch is a Divorce Coach and founder of The Smart Divorce — providing cost effective resources and powerful educational tools to empower and free people during this difficult time. To learn more, visit Deborah on the web at:

Website: http://www.thesmartdivorce.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Smart-Divorce
Twitter: http://twitter.com/thesmartdivorce
Listen to The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio at www.divorcesourceradio.com


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Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce

Have you watched the new documentary on HBO – Don’t Divorce Me!  If you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest you do.

This is the most incredible program providing a voice to children of divorce.  They share their do’s and don’ts of what their parents are doing right and wrong throughout the divorce process and beyond.  The important tips they share are:

  1. Don’t use your kids as messengers
  2. Let them know that the divorce isn’t there fault
  3. Don’t fight
  4. Love your children (too much)
  5. They want to spend time with both mom and dad
  6. Keep the kids out of the middle
  7. Try to make sure that your parents get both kids kind of equally
  8. Don’t ask me to spy

These kids are smart are tell parents in such a powerful way what they could be doing better.  Children are the ones that live out the divorce…..so let’s give our children the best chances and listen to their message.

If you’re having trouble coping emotionally, understanding the importance of putting your children’s best interest first, healing through the divorce process for a happier, healthier future, then you will definitely want to check out The Smart Divorce ToolKit – a cost-effective and valuable divorce support resource.

I’ve written previous blog posts about The Children’s Best Interests.  Check them out:


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Five Steps to a Healthier You, Post-Divorce

Make no mistake; divorce is upper case Emotional. When I decided to leave my marriage, I could not imagine how I would ever say the “d” word to my children or spell out how their lives would change. While I accepted whole-heartedly that my priority was to put my children’s best interests first, I was also painfully aware of how my world was uncoupling and changing. Even though almost 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce, I felt little comfort from a statistic.

At first, I felt very overwhelmed most days. I vividly recall many dreams of moving through scary-divorce-land bogged down by a big bad trunk of fear, anxiety, guilt and anger. I knew I had to unload the trunk to get anywhere but I did not want to “deal.” And, who could even think of dating. But the truth is, that while I knew it was important to put my children’s best interests first, I also knew that it was important to get my own life on track if I was going to be a good parent and role model.

As I began to rebuild my life post-split I quickly realized I had choices — I could choose to be a victim, or I could choose to move on, and it was up to me to build a good life, a happy and fulfilling life. Yes, the future was fraught with uncertainty but I reframed that thought and looked at what I could do to make life better, happier and brighter. The life I’ve now created is beyond my wildest dreams. If anyone would have told me in the darkest of my emotional days that I would be a divorce coach, a best selling Canadian author, a keynote speaker at The Divorce Party — and so much more, I would have told them they were dreaming. But, by opening myself up to new experiences and being open minded, I learned that divorce is rich in opportunity to learn and grown from — and grow I did.

To find out the 5 steps, read the full article here 


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Don’t Let Divorce Destroy Your Relationship with Your Kids

The calendar year starts in September for many families, and along with that comes many adjustments. One of the most serious fall-outs of divorce may be a diminished child-parent relationship.

What happens when you’re a kind, loving, caring parent whose relationship has been downgraded for what seems like no reason at all? How do you maintain a relationship with your children when their priorities change from family to now focusing on school and friends? Here are five ways to maintain a relationship with your kids during the school year.

1. Re-frame your thinking: Don’t measure time spent with your children in quantity — minutes and hours — but in terms of the quality of time you are spending together.

2. Be creative: Keep the relationship going by doing what is in their best interest — driving them to programs, helping them with homework and asking them what they need from you. By doing so, you get to know who their friends are and understand what they are doing at school; it will help promote conversation.

To read the whole article, click on the link below

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-moskovitch/dont-let-divorce-destroy-_b_1853231.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce


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The Family Support Expo is coming to Toronto!

Don’t miss out on the 1st annual Family Support Expo  — Raising Awareness, Reducing Stigma Separation and Divorce The Toronto International Centre will be the home of the Family Support Expo on October 20 -21, 2012

Supporting families in transition, from pregnancy through adolescence and beyond!

The first North American expo bringing together all of the resources needed to support families dealing with Separation & Divorce, Medical, Mental Health, and other lifestyle issues.

The Family Support Expo is for parents, grandparents, caregivers, children and professionals.  The Expo provides information to help build and support a healthy family.

Exhibitors will showcase a variety of services and products and will offer access to community resources, organizations and experts in the industry.

All families experience challenges. Whether it is a child struggling with a medical issue or special need, a senior suffering from an illness, a family on the heels of divorce or separation, or another serious challenge – you are not alone and help is available.

The Expo seeks to revolutionize how families deal with these challenges.

The 3 general areas of focus for the Expo are:

Within these three areas there are many sub-categories.

Separation & Divorce

  • Help finding a professional (Family Mediator, Family Lawyer, Accountant, Real Estate Agent, mortgage broker, etc.)
  • Education and resources to help your family moving forward

Please stop by my booth, Deborah Moskovitch – The Smart Divorce and Divorce Coach, where I will be speaking and selling my resources helping individuals through their divorce  — maintaining their sanity, cutting down on legal costs, and helping to manage the divorce process in a healthier and happier way.

I will also be participating in a panel discussion with Toronto’s leading divorce professionals and moderated by Breakfast Television’s very own Kevin Frankish.

Don’t miss out on this new and unique event.  While the Expo cannot guarantee solutions to all areas of challenge, it stands to provide families with actionable advice and support that will leave them hopeful and optimistic moving forward.

For more information visit: http://familysupportexpo.com


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Be Creative with Your Mediation

New on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio:

We welcome back our guest, Mark Baer (http://www.markbaeresq.com/), a family law attorney, mediator, and collaborative law practitioner in Pasadena, California and who has been practicing for twenty years.  Mark shares his opinions and views about the family law system, how it can be better and provide more creative ways on getting through divorce.  Deborah Moskovitch, Steve Peck and Mark explore a variety of concepts regarding mediation.  This program isn’t just a standard outline of mediation, but shakes it up a little in this controversial and lively discussion.

 

Divorce Mediation

Mark Baer

How do you think outside the box in mediation? Mark Baer encourages you to ponder as we discuss:

  • The way in which bias impacts family law litigation
  • Why “evaluative mediation” is not really mediation, even though most lawyers and judicial officers believe otherwise
  • Whether family law attorneys should have higher ethical obligations than other attorneys
  • Funding your children’s college/university education when child support isn’t enough or stops
  • What money represents

There seems to be a major disconnect between the way the public views mediation and how the attorneys and judicial officers view as mediation.  This is a conversation that is steeped in controversy.  Tune in and then let us hear your thoughts on our Facebook fan pages…and don’t forget to like us.   The Smart Divorce http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Smart-Divorce/202908933137654 and www.Facebook.com/DivorceSourceRadio


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Keeping the Family Foundation Grounded

Family is The Foundation of Our Society

I interviewed Dave Quist of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio.  Tune in to hear this great perspective and ideas on keeping the family together.

The health of our children, communities and nation depends on strong families. The institute of marriage and family Canada (IMFC) states that the aim of society and government policy should be to protect and support this foundation.  How is this accomplished?

David QuistOur guest, Dave Quist, Executive Director of theInstitute of Marriage and Family Canada  (http://www.imfcanada.org/) outlines the many challenges facing families today, and provides ideas for overcoming the obstacles for confronting families in our fast paced society. Mr. Quist has been an active participant in an annual, international meeting of think tanks who collaborate to advance the position that marriage and strong families act as a protector against poverty.  This is a energetic conversation brimming with ideas for developing stronger, healthier family relationships.

Topics include:

  • Staying connected with the “family dinner”
  • Pre-marriage counseling
  • The challenges of family financing
  • Understanding the “me” generation
  • How to make relationships stronger with your children and within your marriage
  • Making marriages successful rather than divorce easier
  • What co-parents need to understand so that children become positive contributors to society
  • The cultural shift of marriage
  • And, so much more……

The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) conducts, compiles and presents the latest and most accurate research to ensure that marriage and family-friendly policy are foremost in the minds of Canada’s decision makers.

To hear the interview click on the link:

http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/family-the-foundation-our-society/


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It’s All About The Kids, “Stupid” – Parenting During Divorce

One of the most important concerns parents have post divorce is how their time is to be shared between their children.  Is there such a thing about the right parenting plan or how parenting time is shared?  In this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, our guest Dr. Phil Stahl  has some very insightful answers and thoughts on parenting during divorce.

Dr. Stahl is one of the North America’s foremost parenting experts; a practitioner, author, and teacher, specializing in high conflict families of divorce. He has served on numerous committees and task forces designed to improve the quality of work in his field. He teaches judges, attorneys, psychologists and other mental health professionals about issues affecting families and children. His expertise is accepted in courts across the country.

If you are a parent going through a divorce, you will want to learn more about custody evaluations and some of the issues affecting families and children. This show is insightful for grandparents and step-parents…..or anyone who wants a better understanding of the parenting plan and putting the children’s best interests first.

Topics include:

  • Communication blunders, and apologizing to our children for our mistakes
  • Wise advice from Dr. Stahl’s book – Parenting After Divorce
  • What makes a good parenting plan
  • Parenting plan ideas
  • Parenting through conflict
  • How to share your child – your child is not a percentage

For more on Dr. Stahl, visit: http://www.parentingafterdivorce.com/index.html

To hear this insightful interview chock full of great advice tune in at http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/its-all-about-the-kids-stupid-parenting-during-divorce/