Monday, March 28, 2011

Two Challenges Children Face Before and After Your Divorce

Many thanks to our guest blogger, Rosalind Sedacca, for her insightful post. Rosalind's articles are always compassionate and informative.

by Rosalind Sedacca

Whether your divorce is pending or five years behind you, your children continue to process the reality according to their age and level of understanding. There are several concepts that cause the most emotional turmoil for children. Being aware of these sensitive areas can help parents address these issues more effectively.

As your children age they may revisit your divorce with more questions, confusion or insecurity. That’s why it’s essential that you have answers ready based on a keen understanding of how children internalize a divorce – even long after it’s over.

There are two major concepts that can create the most emotional pain for children. The first has to do with blame and the second with unrealistic expectations. Here are some suggestions for handling these common challenges.

Children keep blaming themselves for the divorce – even after it’s over!

Regardless of what their parents may tell them, many children still believe they are the reason for their parent’s divorce. This is especially so if the children have heard their parents fighting about the kids and related parenting issues. It’s easy for a child to assume that if they had behaved better, fought less with their siblings, received better grades or helped more around the house, they could have prevented the subsequent divorce.

Your divorce may be long past, but some children still need to repeatedly hear the same message. It’s important to explain to them that divorce is always between Moms and Dads! Regardless of what they may have heard when their parents fought, children are never the cause of a divorce. Using age-appropriate language it’s valuable to explain to your children that there are many reasons why people divorce. Sometimes they may have grown apart. Or the love they once had for each other has changed. Often they just can't agree about issues in their lives. You don’t have to go into specifics in your own circumstances. The important point to make is that Mom and Dad both love you very much. And one thing is for certain: The divorce was not and is not your fault. You did not cause our divorce and you are not in any way to blame!

Children keep trying to fix your divorce – even after it’s over!

One of the saddest consequences of a divorce is the pressure some children put upon themselves to fix the problem. Getting Mom and Dad back together is a huge emotional burdon that you don’t want your children to undertake. It’s a no-win situation that’s far beyond the capabilities of any child – even when they’re in their teens.

Nevertheless, many children invest time in wishing and trying to make everything okay and get both parents back home again. Part of their strategy may be trying to adjust their behavior so they never get scolded, striving for A's at school and becoming the perfect child.

Some children take the opposite track. They create negative attention to distract Mom and Dad, hoping to side-track the divorce. By acting out, doing poorly in school, jumping onto drugs or other negative behaviors, their intention is to make the divorce go away by keeping their parents engaged in these other demanding issues.

Again, it’s valuable to address these behaviors head-on. Talk about your children’s feelings. Let them know you understand and acknowledge their right to be angry, frustrated, hurt, confused or ashamed about the divorce. Explain, as well, that they can’t behave their way into avoiding or postponing a divorce – or restoring a marriage following a divorce. The more both parents are in accord regarding the finality of the divorce and the messages they are conveying, the easier it will be for your children to accept the tough reality they may have been trying to avoid.

Rosalind Sedacca, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, is the author of the ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! The book helps parents create a unique personal family storybook that uses fill-in-the-blank templates to guide them through this difficult transition with optimum results. For Rosalind’s free articles, coaching services, book, child-centered divorce resources and free ezine, visit to

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Children's Movement of Florida

Many thanks to Vance Aloupis, State Coordinator for The Children's Movement of Florida, for being our guest blogger this week.

by Vance Aloupis

I'd be hard pressed to think of anything more important in a young child's life than a caring, loving and informed parent. The "caring" and "loving" traits are inherent in most parents, but the "informed" parent is few and far between. As a college and law school graduate, I find myself approaching the birth of my first child with hundreds of questions and concerns. They just don't teach you these sorts of things in school.

In January of 2009, The Children's Movement of Florida conducted a statewide poll of 1,515 "likely" voters using both Democrat and Republican pollsters. From the polling data, Florida voters identified five “high-priority issues” that have become The Movement’s agenda:

1. health insurance for all children
2. improving Florida's voluntary pre-K program
3. screening and treatment for children who may have special needs
4. high-quality mentoring programs and;
5. high-quality parent skill-building

With the support of its statewide steering committee, we launched in August 2010 and embarked in September on the "Milk Party" tour which brought together more than 15,000 Floridians across 17 communities and was featured in more than 100 newspaper stories and television clips. Our policy team then authored a 2011 legislative agenda that provides practical and measurable policies that address each of the first five issues mentioned above.

When it comes to parent skill-building, we are advocating for the implementation of a public awareness campaign, to provide much needed information to families on the importance of early development, nurturing parenting and parental involvement. We must also provide and publicize a statewide toll-free phone line and website in English, Spanish and Creole to support the diversity of our communities. These services should build on successful models, such as those in Miami-Dade County and elsewhere in the state. The fiscal note for this program: $10 million. Despite the economic challenges facing our state, we cannot allow the needs of all of our children to be continually overlooked.

Launched only seven months earlier, The Children's Movement of Florida opened the 2011 legislative session with more than 165,000 supporters. Our goal is to reach one million in 2012. We need the support of organizations like Whole Hearted Parenting to share the message that Florida's children can no longer be a lesser priority than roads, prisons and sports stadiums. To achieve real success, we must work together to change the priorities of Tallahassee, and ensure that our elected officials are focusing on the issues that give children the best chances to be successful in school and in life.

Children must be the No. 1 priority.

If you'd like to learn more about The Children's Movement of Florida you can vist our website, accessible via

Vance Aloupis
Statewide Coordinator
The Children's Movement of Florida

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parent's Top Ten List #1 - Have Fun!

We have reached the summit – the top suggestion on our annual Parent's Top Ten list (available here). The number one suggestion for parents for 2011 is “Have more fun and more fun together.”

Each day I receive “Notes from the Universe” from Totally Unique Thoughts. Based on the concept that “thoughts become things…choose the good ones,” the notes are inspirational and typically funny. Today’s was no different. “For millenniums, Maggie, the path to enlightenment has been made up of many steps. Most commonly, it begins with festering misunderstandings that lead to pain, the pain then leads to growth, growth leads to clarity, clarity leads to fun, fun leads to joy, and joy leads to true illumination. May I recommend skipping to the fun part?”

Fun unites. Maybe we can create a new word – funited. We are united in fun and by fun!

Research is showing that laughter (what could be more fun than that?) has far-reaching health benefits including pain relief, increased happiness and a stronger immune system. Laughter is a terrific stress management tool.

Having fun – reducing your stress, filling your cup, nurturing yourself – gives you the flexibility to parent creatively. When an issue arises, you will have the energy to grasp what your child can learn from the experience rather than frantically trying to get things under control. Having fun together will do that for everyone in your family.

Make having fun a priority rather than the last item on your agenda. Have fun BEFORE taking on big projects or prior to doing the things you aren’t fond of doing. You may actually have more fun than you thought. Have fun WHILE you make the bed, do the dishes or mow the lawn.

As TUT suggests, skip to the fun part! You children will learn to do that, too. The next generation in your family just might have fun ALL of the time! What a concept.

To hear this as a podcast, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Parent's Top Ten List - #2

Last week we took a brief detour in our count down of the 2011 Parent’s Top Ten List to discuss a different topic, entitlement. Our annual Parent's Top Ten list, which is available here, is meant to be printed and posted on the fridge or somewhere visible to serve as a high-level guide to keeping your home peaceful. It can be your GPS (Guide for Parenting with Sensitivity). We are up to #2, our next-to-the-top suggestion for 2011, and it is, “Do something outdoors with your family on a regular basis to keep everyone connected with nature.”

Taking country drives was something my family did when we were growing up. If we passed a farm, we would pull off the road and watch the cows graze or the horses play. My mother enjoyed making flower arrangements, and she would find interesting things growing by the road to create simple arrangements that meant something beyond their beauty because we had spotted the components and picked them with her. Each drive was a day of fresh air and discovery.

One of the needs we all have is to experiment and explore, and getting out in nature is a wonderful way to explore. Connecting with nature is vital for children, and Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, says that many children today are increasingly disconnected from nature. Not only do children need that connection, but Louv says that nature needs our children, who are the next stewards of the Earth. A 2002 British study found that eight-year-olds identify Pokémon characters more easily than otters, beetles and oak trees. Family adventures in nature can change that.

Your children can learn to read maps and navigate the family to your destination. A fun outdoor adventure that involves navigation is geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunt played using a GPS device. According to, “The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.”

A trip to the beach can spark your child’s interest in shells or sea life. You can visit nurseries and botanical gardens. Growing your own vegetables gets you outdoors and also fills your table. You can plant a traditional garden or create a simple garden in pots on your front steps. Visiting “U-Pick” sites or markets for your produce is a fun outdoor activity with many lessons for your children and a delicious payoff.

Have a regular outdoor adventure with your family. No child will forget his connection with nature.

To hear this as a podcast, click here.