The Smart Divorce® Weblog

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Change Your Brain, Transform Relationships

What if you could change the negative thoughts and behaviors that have been detrimental to healthy relationships in the past? Have you ever had feelings of being blamed, unappreciated, rejected or even un-loved in a past or current relationship? Imagine what would happen if you were able to “rewire” your brain and eliminate your negative feelings and replace them with positive feelings that make you feel  accepted, appreciated valued, loved and successful.

David Folk

David Folk

On this episode of The Smart Divorce, recorded at The Family Support Expo in Toronto, co-founder of NEXT Integrative Mind Sciences, David Folk joins us to discuss the potential to changing our brain and transform relationships. (Neuroplasticity)

David’s NEXT program guides students through a series of exercises that teach you to utilize your brain’s own natural plasticity by creating new and lasting patterns of behavior.  Armed with new abilities for emotional behavioral regulation, graduates of the couples and families program consistently report radical improvements to their relationships compared to when they began the program.

Learn how developments in neuroscience can benefit your life in this exciting program.  For more information on David Folk and the NEXT program, visit: www.The NextProgram.com.

To listen click here


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The Shared Custody Experience

On this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, our guest is Denise Whitehead, a lawyer with a Ph.D. in Family Relations & Human Development.  She combines her legal and social science backgrounds and shares her important research on socio-legal practice and policy issues related to separation and divorce that affect all members of the family system – mothers, fathers and children.

Denise Whitehead

Dr. Whitehead discusses her dissertation research that involved in-depth interviews with young adults who spent time in shared custody as children and examined their perspectives on transitions, relationships and fairness.  The information is helpful on so many levels – but most importantly looks at what children really want, the outcomes and impact.

Topics in this program include:

  • How shared custody is influencing parent child relationships
  • Fairness in decision making
  • What children want in a custody arrangement
  • The importance of quality time with children
  • Who “owns the time”
  • ‘Managing-up:’ Young adult children who experienced shared custody reflect on their efforts to make family relations work
  • Custodial decision-making and fairness: Young adults who lived in shared custody give their ‘expert’ opinions
  • And so much more…….

This is a must listen show if you are thinking of, working through or implementing your parenting plan.  Dr. Whitehead provides practical and creative thinking about parenting and the relationship with your children.

To listen click here

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Divorcing Santa – Coparenting Through the Holidays Post-Divorce

My colleague Traci Whitney, founder of  Two Happy Homes has kindly submitted this article.

Please share your thoughts….how do you celebrate the holidays?

Wishing all my readers happy holidays and all the very best……Deborah

By Traci Whitney

Divorce is tough through any time of the year, but getting through the holidays post-divorce can be particularly rough.
This a time of year when you no doubt have a lot of mixed emotions about your ex, and maybe even some holiday memories, but whether they bring fond or sour feelings, this is the time when it’s necessary best to put the children first. Even though you may feel like steering clear of your ex right now, there is a lot going on with the kids, so you may have no choice but to work through some seasonal logistics. Being an excellent co-parent through the holidays may take a little extra effort, but it will make this time of year more peaceful for the whole family, including yourself.
Here are a few tips for peaceful coparenting through the holiday season…
1. Plan the parenting schedule ahead of time. Now is the time to be talking about who gets the kids when over the holidays. Chances are, you already have these days figured out in your parenting plan. But if you don’t, then get this discussion out of the way now so that you both know what to expect when the holidays are upon us. This way you can let any other loved ones know what the schedule is, and everyone can plan accordingly. Getting the parenting schedule out of the way now allows you to enjoy the holidays later.
2. Make two lists, check them twice. If your kids make wish lists for presents – have them make two separate lists – one for each house. If there is one “master” list, then it can create stress between parents… Who saw it first? Who gets to pick out the kids top choices for gifts? Is there enough gifts on the list for two homes to split? What if you buy duplicates and the kids get upset about that?… it can get downright crazy. Have the kids make two lists, or if everyone is agreeable to one parent splitting the list between homes then that is fine too. Tell the kids ahead of time that if they get the same gift at both houses then that’s ok, sometimes just a little heads up can diffuse the situation ahead of time.
3. Communicate with your coparent about gifts for the kids. If your teen really wants to get concert tickets, and you’re considering shelling out a significant amount of money to buy them for her, then it’s best to make sure that your ex doesn’t have the same plan in mind. Keeping in touch now can make sure you avoid possible conflicts during the holidays, and we want to kids to enjoy them as much as possible.
4. Consider splitting the costs for big ticket items, but only if that item is easily shared between the two homes. Don’t agree to pitch in to buy a child a bike or a pet if it can really only stay at one house, this may lead to resentment later on between parents. A doll, electronic toy, or books can entertain kids at either house.
5. Don’t stress about spending money. There are a lot of resources out there for cutting costs over the holidays. One of my favorite places for finding new ideas is Pinterest. Check out blogs for tips on how to save money on gifts. This is an area that you have control of, in a post-divorce world that is not always easy to control, so take advantage of it and do some research and planning early. That way you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them!
6. Don’t put the kids in the middle. This is a special time of year for kids, and if you and your coparent are arguing about schedules or gifts, then the magic can be sucked right out of the holiday pretty quickly. Make sure to keep any discussions private so that your kids can enjoy the holidays stress-free.
7. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. This is my favorite time of year, and I’ll admit that being divorced, dealing with family schedules, blended family issues, etc., etc.,  can be quite stressful. Take some time to do the things you love around the holidays, even if that means springing for a babysitter for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself. For me, this means wrapping presents with some eggnog and watching It’s a Wonderful Life – simple, but this is something that I have made my own tradition post-divorce, just for me. I also take time to create traditions for just me and the kids, so they have the joy (and stability) of memories created year after year.

 


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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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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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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/


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Parent Alienation 911

Judge Michele Lowrance and I Jill Egizi have written a Parental Alienation Workbook entitled Parental Alienation 911.

This product is ideal for anyone who wants to understand the facts about parental alienation.
In particular this product is geared toward arming parents who wonder if they are experiencing alienation with all the information they need to make the best of a difficult, potentially inflammatory situation.
For parents who are already in the midst of an alienation conflict; parents who are suffering from a deterioration in their relationship with their children after divorce this invaluable product offers a myriad of tools and resources for managing the emotional and legal complexities. This information is organized so that you can be as informed and aware as possible about what’s going on. The best thing that can happen is that you reconnect with your children the worst thing that can happen is that you never tried.
For more information, or to order the program, click on the link:


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The Joys of Being a Single Parent: A Dad’s Point of View

Our guest on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio, is Bruce Sallan who shares his story of becoming a first-time dad, to a son, four days after his 40th birthday, less than 9 months after getting married (they got pregnant on the honeymoon). His second son was born three years later. When Bruce’s sons were still quite young, he left his job as Vice President ABC Motion Pictures for Television to become a full-time dad and to care for his ailing parents, the classic “sandwich” situation.

Shortly thereafter, his marriage ended and his wife abandoned their children, leaving the state. He became a full-time single dad, in his late-forties. Hear Bruce share his lessons and musings on being a single dad.

Topics in this program include:

  • Reactions from friends and acquaintances about being a single stay at home dad
  • The inherent differences in the parenting styles of mothers and fathers
  • How gender differences affecting parenting, friendships and dating
  • A single dad’s view on custody and the children’s best interests
  • Triumph over heartbreak; new ventures and lessons learned
  • The real importance of being a single parent
Listen in to this important interview:


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Smart tips for helping your children as they head back to school

It’s tough enough for kids to go back to school, and it’s even harder for the children of parents who are separated or divorcing. Kids may worry that their lives will change dramatically or that they will be forced to move away. Toss in the butterflies that come with a new school year, and your child may be more stressed than you realize.

Here are 5 key things parents can do make the transition back to school easier, when everything else about the family is in transition:

Talk to your child about what he/ she is feeling.Divorce can affect a child’s behavior, well-being and even academic achievement. Look for signs of depression, withdrawal, or behavior and other issues. And, be sure to talk to your child about what they’re feeling. There are resources available if you or your child need professional help (Catholic Services, Jewish Family & Child Services, Parents without Partners, Rainbows, Up to Parents, a therapist for you or your child).. Help your children overcome these symptoms, and get them the help they need.

Reassure your child you love him/her. . It is natural for a child to worry if he/she is loved or if he/she was somehow to blame for the divorce. Ensure your child knows he/she is not to blame–and that he/she is very loved.

Make time to answer his/her questions. Your child may have a ton of questions that he/she is dying to know. Set aside time for those questions, perhaps during or following your child’s favourite activity. You can always start the ball rolling if they are quiet: “If I were you, I’d want to know where I will be living….”

Try and maintain a normal after-school schedule. Just because your child’s home life is different doesn’t mean his school life has to be. Ensure he is participating in the activities he wants to, over worries about cutting into “mom’s time” or “dad’s time.” The goal is to put your child’s best interest first.

To read the rest of this article which appeared in The Huffington Post, click on the link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-moskovitch/yeading-back-to-school-pu_b_929858.html