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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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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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When nannies get caught in divorce drama

I spoke with Wency Leung at the Globe&Mail about my personal experience with my nanny through divorce.  This article provides insight into many important considerations when a nanny/babysitter is involved.

Baby wrangler or domestic diplomat? When nannies get caught in divorce drama

WENCY LEUNG

As a nanny, 23-year-old Ana was prepared to deal with tears, name-calling and the silent treatment while on the job. She just did not expect to witness it between her employers. When the couple who hired her split up last year, she often felt caught in the middle.

Some days, she struggled to keep both parents happy as she took care of their toddler son in downtown Toronto. Other days, the entire household felt bogged down by a general sense of sadness. And on particularly awkward occasions, one parent would bad-mouth the other in front of her or ask for information about their spouse.

“It was just very traumatic for everybody – for the kid, for the nanny, for everybody who lived there,” Ana says, noting she tried to stay out of the couple’s personal affairs as much as she could. (Because of the sensitive nature of the issue, she requested that her full name not be published.) “I would just try to keep my opinions to myself.”

As Ana discovered, divorce adds a whole new set of challenges to a nanny’s job. In addition to regular child-minding duties, a break-up requires nannies to adopt the role of domestic diplomat, dodging highly-charged conflicts without taking sides. Yet amid the turmoil, nannies can also become a much-needed source of stability for the children in their care. And navigating the chaos can strengthen the nanny-child bond.

Royal nanny Olga Powell’s reassuring presence through the highly publicized breakup of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is believed to have helped Prince William and Prince Harry cement their relationship with their long-time caregiver. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, pulled out of several official engagements to attend Powell’s funeral this week. According to The Telegraph, Powell, who died last month at the age of 82, started looking after Prince William when he was six months old. She worked for the royal family for 15 years, helping the princes get through their parents’ troubled marriage and eventual divorce.

“In the circumstances of divorce, the nanny is kind of that one stable factor,” says Kellie Geres, a veteran nanny with more than 20 years of experience, based in Washington, D.C., who has served three households through divorce. When their home life is in upheaval, “the children recognize that … there is somebody that they can count on, and I think the parents also recognize that too.”

Ana and her young charge have become close over the past year. “From the beginning, I loved him very much because he was such a lovely kid,” she says, noting the challenge of protecting and caring for him during his parents’ separation may have amplified those feelings. Ana now works exclusively for the parent who moved out with the child, and rarely has contact with the other.

Given that roughly 40 per cent of Canadian marriages end in divorce, dealing with employers’ break-ups is not uncommon for child caregivers. In fact, Martha Scully, founder the online database CanadianNanny.ca, based in Nanaimo, says in recent years she has seen a growing number of divorced and separating couples register on her site together to find a nanny who can provide consistent care in their fractured households.

But even though they may be willing to co-operate during the hiring process, that does not necessarily make it easier for caregivers to avoid strife among exes. Scully says she often hears of parents giving their nannies conflicting directions – a problem that can be compounded when couples remarry, bringing more opinions and expectations into the mix. (Geres says it helps if parents can decide that one of them is the boss, so even though the caregiver may update all the adults with their children’s activities and progress, she needs only answer to one.)

Some nannies also get stuck doing double duty, cleaning and doing chores for two homes instead of one. And since some employers treat their nannies like members of the family, it can be hard for them to resist dishing the dirt on the exes. Defining the boundaries of the nanny-employer relationship can be tricky at the best of times.

Even among couples who are not going through divorce, relying on hired help can bring up parents’ feelings of guilt or concern that their roles are being replaced. Scully often hears mothers worry: “Is the nanny going to start looking like Mom to the baby?” These fears can worsen when parental roles change during divorce; when, for example, a stay-at-home parent is required to find work or a parent spends less time with the children after moving out.

“When parents express that worry to us, I always say you can’t have too many people who love a child,” Scully says. “So let’s say the child really loves a nanny. Is that such a bad thing?”

Deborah Moskovitch, Toronto-based divorce coach and author of The Smart Divorce, says that far from taking over her role, the family nanny gave her more time to spend one-on-one with each of her children when she went through her own divorce.

Click here to read the whole article and valuable advice


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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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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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Resolve Custody Conflicts in Divorce

New on The Smart Divorce – Resolve Custody Conflicts in Divorce

You can protect your kids through Divorce Without Dishonor, and our guest, Mike Mastracci tells us how to resolve custody conflicts in divorce.  Author and lawyer, Mike Mastracci is a nationally recognized family law attorney and mediator with over 20 years of professional experience. He is the author of STOP Fighting Over the Kids, Resolving Day-to-Day Conflict in Divorce Situations.  (To receive a FREE copy of Mike’s book, send your request to: DivorceSourceRadio@gmail.com and the E-book will be emailed to you.)

Stop fighting over the kidsIn addition to his legal, collaborative and mediation skills, Mastracci brings much more to the table: with an insightful, kind and helpful approach. He shares his personal child custody issues and challenges to better serve you in solving your legal, practical, parental, and situational problems.

Mr. Mastracci through his common sense approach provides insight, strategies and an invaluable understanding of Court, costly custody battles. Mastracci encourages divorcing couples to educate themselves in the Collaborative Divorce method whereby they can demonstrate by their words and actions that they love their children more than they may dislike their ex. Mike will frankly tell you that contested divorce and child custody litigation is more often than not a waste of time, money and emotional wear and tear.
Mastracci is committed to preserving parent-child relationships.

To hear this interview, click on the link http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/resolve-custody-conflicts-divorce/


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How to Be Smart About Mediation

Understanding what mediation is as a process, and finding the right mediator, are critical elements to developing  smart and long lasting parenting and financial agreements that are predicated on informed, thoughtful decision making.  A good mediator will discuss what your goals are for the process, what is important to each of you and will help you to craft a plan that addresses those goals and intentions.  This is important to understand, as all mediators are not created equal!

Our guest, Cara Raich, (http://www.srmediators.com/mediators/cara-raich-esq/)  (http://mediatetrix.wordpress.com/) explores the specifics of mediation in this episode of The Smart Divorce, with Deborah Moskovitch and Steve Peck.   Cara is a mediator and attorney who specializes in helping people find non-adversarial resolutions to conflict. She mediates a wide range of cases including divorce, family conflicts, and organizational and civil disputes.

Cara is dedicated to helping her clients avoid the challenges and acrimony that frequently accompany adversarial proceedings. She does this by enabling her clients to come to realistic and informed agreements that work for them and their families. Cara believes that separation and divorce are family matters with a legal element, not a lawsuit that happens to be about a family.

To understand how these goals are accomplished in a fair and reasonable manner – and gain perspectives on alternative ways to view mediation and settlement we discuss:

  • What does neutrality really mean?
  • What are the process choices that people have when contemplating divorce?
  • How do we as a society view divorce?
  • What is a successful divorce?
  • What is the role the law will play in your divorce? Is the law relevant, determinative or something in between?

This interview will surely help you understand the many aspects of mediation.

To listen, click on the link http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/be-smart-about-mediation/ 


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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/