Monday, November 26, 2012

Divorced Parents : Home Alone Over the Holidays

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Please welcome our guest blogger Rosalind Sedacca of Child Centered Divorce.  Her timely article on handling the holidays without your children has great information not only for divorced parents but for all who may be feeling alone over the holidays.  My favorite of Rosalind's tips is to be in service to others.  It is then that you notice how connected, valuable, helpful, special and loved you are!

One of the saddest consequences of divorce for parents is the alone-time when your children are visiting their other parent. While short-term periods when the kids are away can be a welcome respite for an over scheduled single parent, for other parents the intervals between seeing the children can be long and lonely.  The holiday season can be a particularly challenging time, especially when friends and neighbors are busy with their own family gatherings.

It’s really important for parents who are alone during the winter holidays to get creative and absorbed in activities that you find personally fulfilling. This can also be an opportunity to reflect on meeting your own needs and finding friends and activities that bring joy into your life.

One of the greatest challenges for divorced parents is avoiding self-pity.  Overwhelmed by a sense of isolation, or feeling undervalued as a parent, can often result in making poor choices when communicating with your children.  It’s not difficult to bury your hurt in comments designed to make your children feel guilty about not being with you, despite the fact that most times those decisions are not really within their control.

Turning toward your support group of friends can be really helpful when these feelings arise. Seeking out a counselor or divorce coach can also provide advice and new resources for creating alternative holiday traditions.

Here are some other ways you can stay in the lives of your children despite the distance between you.

  • Create a Journal of holiday activities that you can later share with the kids. This might take the form of a travelogue of places you’ve explored, people you’ve visited, movies you saw and other activities participated in. You can even bring home a souvenir from each place as something to show and talk about with the kids on their next visit, such as paper restaurant menus, movie ticket stubs, tee shirts, colorful brochures, post-cards, hats, pens, etc.
  •  Send an email or text message “of the day” to the kids with a theme: such as the Staying Warm Tip of the Day, favorite Candy Bar of the Day, Sledding Tip of the Day, Favorite Frozen Yogurt Flavor of the Day – just to keep in touch.
  • Join a toy or food distribution drive over the holidays to help needy children in your community so you feel valued while interacting with and bringing joy to other children.
  • Make plans to see the same movie as your kids on the same day and then schedule a call to discuss the movie together and share the experience in your own way.
Be creative. Think out of the box in healthy ways and your children will appreciate you without guilt, sadness or shame. This is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give to their children – the gift of enjoying their childhood without the burden of parental divorce issues weighing them down.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, articles, coaching services and other valuable resources about divorce and parenting, visit

All rights reserved. © Rosalind Sedacca

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Choosing Your Child’s School Involves Defining the Purpose of Education

I remember when my husband and I were deciding on our daughter’s elementary school. Do we send her to the public school around the corner, the new charter school a few miles away, or the private school with the out-of-pocket tuition expenses?  Do we homeschool?  In deciding on the best match for their child, most parents wonder where she will best flourish, where he will feel that he belongs, and where she will shine rather than fall through the cracks of a large educational institution.  Bobbi Cecio, long-time educator and co-founder of The Village Gate Children’s Academy in Encinitas, California, is passionate about the child-school match.  In discussing education, she asks that we address our questions by exploring the basic purpose of education.  She says, “What is the purpose of schooling and teaching?  If we don’t know the answer to that and if we don’t know the mission and goals of schools, it’s not possible to even know if we’ve fulfilled the mission, reached the goals, or missed our target.  Interestingly, with all the focus in recent years on accountability of schools, you don’t hear much public discussion about the fundamental purpose of schools.” 
Bobbi continues, “I’ve found that two primary opposing views exist regarding the purpose of schools. Some believe that the primary purpose of schools should be to create workers who have skills and personal styles to fill and perform available jobs. Others believe schools should seek to develop active citizens, helping children develop their own capacity for personal achievement and contributing to society as an active citizen for democracy.  Over time, the goals of public education have included preparation of children for citizenship, cultivation of a skilled workforce, the teaching of cultural literacy, the preparation of students for college, the development of critical thinking and to assist students in competing in the global marketplace.

What do you think is the purpose of your child’s education?  What would you like it to be?  How much of your vision is shared by the leadership at your child’s school? 

I have heard many say that the purpose of school is to prepare our children for their future. If that’s truly the case, then I’m going to challenge that perspective and invite you to consider a few things.

Our current school systems are antiquated.  They were invented during the industrial revolution in an effort to create factory workers who did what they were told and could focus on one thing all day long. This is not the world our children are going to inhabit.  Our current system has children sit in classrooms, in identical seating, with same age children.  Children are asked questions for which the answers are already known, so there is no deep sense of discovery or challenge.  In what way does that resemble any facet of our current world let alone a world 15-20 years in our future?

At some point, we stopped asking questions and striving for a different environment in our schools because most of us were educated in similar schools.  As far as we’re concerned, it worked.  We’ve grown up to be successful adults so “what’s the problem?” The problem is that our children need us to create a school environment that meets their needs and that of the future they are growing in to.  None of us can accomplish this alone, but together, we can.”
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 

Bobbi Cecio will be speaking in south Florida at the It Takes a Village Parenting Conference in Miramar on October 20.  You can learn more about her philosophy on education and her school, The Village Gate Children’s Academy, at

Monday, July 23, 2012

Modeling Play

There is a movement reasserting the developmental value of play for children.  Studies are showing that pushing young children academically at a young age is actually backfiring.  Jeff Everage presents the case for play based on our indigenous roots, and he brings it back to us, the parents, who may be modeling something other than play for our children.  Many thanks to Parkland Life Magazine for permission to reprint this article.
by Jeff Everage

Kids emulate their parents – both the things we’re proud of and those that make us blush. It’s cute when a toddler pretends to talk into a calculator like we talk into our cell phones. It’s frustrating when our 12-year-old says, “One more video game, then I’ll go outside to play,” causing you to shout that kids are supposed to want to play outside!
Why do we believe kids should play a certain way? What type of play are we teaching them to enjoy?

These days, adult “play” centers around static activities - watching the game last Sunday with your buddies, watching an interesting TV show, going to the gym, or sitting in the bleachers watching your kids play a game of soccer. If these are the types of activities we associate with fun and entertainment, then can we fault our kids too much if their idea of fun is watching cartoons all day!

I recently attended a talk by Jon Young about his trip to Botswana to learn the nature mentoring techniques of the Bushman, an ancient hunter-gatherer culture. Jon has dedicated his life to connecting children and families to their natural environment and has written the definitive book on the subject, Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature. Jon observed the village women playing with homemade dolls and toy huts, playing out the scenes of a typical day, much like little girls might pretend to have tea or cook. The village girls watched, and when the women finished, the girls rushed in and picked up the toys to play their own version of the same. Curious, Jon watched the village men at play. They played a game with a ball similar to sports western men play. After they were done, the village boys rushed in and played.

Humans are adapted through “mirror neurons” that have us experience what we see so that we can cope with our changing environment by seeing others and copying them. Entertainment evolved from this adaptation and probably started as storytelling and sports to pass on important information and capabilities. I realized our culture may be confusing, or even replacing, play for entertainment.

With this distinguished, I found that entertainment was everywhere and play was nearly nonexistent in the adult’s world. Adults are passing time with TVs, computers, smart phones, and similar electronic devices, and children are mirroring that. The results of this are predictable. ADHD, obesity, depression, and toxic stress are directly linked to trading less outdoor play for more indoor electronic entertainment.

What does a child learn by watching adults engrossed in passive forms of entertainment? Focus is on the entertainers: reporters, sports players, actors, contestants. The parent is mere spectator, not active participant. We should ask ourselves, who is modeling what? Will we allow a future where our children sit and watch others play and have fun?

So what can we do as parents? We could join an adult sports league, hike more with our children, maintain a home garden, and do outdoor community service projects together. We can organize more outdoor potlucks with other families. Bring the Frisbee, soccer ball or football and, like the Bushman, leave the children on the sidelines while the adults play for a while.

Don’t worry about the kids; they still know what to do.

Navy SEAL training, entrepreneurial ventures, and corporate business leadership did not fully prepare Jeff Everage for his life's biggest challenge - fatherhood. Inspired by his two sons, he became a certified Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Positive Discipline parent educator, and co-founded, a website that provides parents engaging online education based on mutual respect and community support.  A sought after keynote speaker, writer, and trainer, Jeff presents and writes about parenting fundamentals backed by new brain science, evolutionary development, cultural history, and common sense.  Jeff will be speaking at It Takes a Village Parenting Conference in Miramar, Florida, on October 20, 2012.  For more, see

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Lessons from an 8th Grade Trip

In May, my daughter participated in her school’s eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C.  I learned so much from this adventure!  No, I wasn’t a chaperone.  I learned all of this by being at home while she was gone for four days.  I learned all of this after crying like a baby driving home after seeing her board the bus for the airport.  I learned this through our telephone conversations, our texting and the sharing after she got home.  “Learned” is probably not the most accurate word.  Her trip reaffirmed things that I already knew in my head and now feel in my heart. 

My daughter is a terrific friend.  She is sensitive to those around her, and she sticks by her friends.  She expresses how she feels.  The teen years are an intense immersion course in relationships.  She was absolutely stunned when she expressed her feelings to someone on the trip, and the response from the “friend” was, “So?”  As a result, we’ve had some good discussions on what friendship means, how to set boundaries, how to be self-protecting, and how to handle it when “friends” respond insensitively.

People are amazing!  Our daughter’s godfather, Greg, and his fourteen-year-old son happened to be in Washington, D.C., on an over-lapping day with her tour.  Greg immediately asked if he could meet up with her.  We got approval from the school, and he bought tickets for the dinner-dance cruise.  It meant a great deal to our daughter that Greg and his son would take the time to be with her.  It meant a lot to us that he would spend hours amidst a throng of high school and middle school teenagers on a boat without escape and without alcohol!  From the Potomac, they sent me text messages and photographs.  At least three of my daughter’s friends are now “in love” with Greg’s son!                  

She does not waiver in her determination.  Beginning on the plane ride from south Florida, there were several challenges on this trip.  She did not cave in.  She pushed through the difficulties, taking good care of herself and honoring how she felt.  She grew more resilient and confident from the experience. 

It is terrific for children (and parents) to go out into the world.  They grow, and they return with something to enrich the family and themselves.  I could see this in how my daughter approached her voice lesson the week after she got home.  I had never seen her so confident!  She took risks vocally that she had not done before.  I could see it in how she approached her responsibilities with much more leadership.        

I can see where I nag.    In the quiet around the house during those four days, the “typical daily home soundtrack” replayed in my head.  The soundtrack replay made me keenly aware of how much I say, how often I say it, and the tone I use when saying it.  After the trip, I actually took my own advice from Redirecting Children’s Behavior and talked less, using one word, i.e., homework or trash or pets, instead of multiple sentences!   Minimizing the number of words I’ve used has produced much happier results! 
A trip like this allows everyone the space to examine their relationships.  My daughter got to appreciate home and family.  She got to examine friendships when the time spent with friends allowed everyone to truly be themselves at their best and their worst.  And I got to see the results of my daughter’s big step into the world, generously allowing me to see her more as the young woman she is becoming than the child she has been.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All You Have to Do is Look Inside: An End to the Bully AND the Victim

The film Bully recently opened, and bullying has been a hot topic of conversation for many years.  Please welcome our guest columnist, Pamela Dunn, who has great insights into how to shift the bully-victim paradigm. Pamela will be speaking on this topic at It Takes a Village Parenting Conference on October 20, 2012, in Miramar. Thanks to Parkland Life Magazine for permission to reprint this article.

by Pamela Dunn

It takes a lot of courage, a lot of love and compassion to see the perceived bully as greater than their actions – and each and every person has that ability.  It takes a lot of strength, a lot of faith and compassion to see the perceived victim as greater than their beliefs and each and every person has that ability.  This paradigm shift in how you see them AND then treating them THAT way is no longer just for the gifted – it is critical for everyone. It’s critical because it is your way to stop adding anger, revenge, depression and discouragement to the world and replace that with the ability to treat each other and ourselves more compassionately, see ourselves and others as brilliant, judge from the beauty and care about the pain.  THIS is the richness the world – and YOU – deserves to experience.

You see, the concept of bullying on any level is a highly damaging concept.  In addition, the media and many specialists, when addressing the issue of bullying, add to the issue by simply arming the victims against the bully and punishing the bully. I believe this is one of the key perspectives that perpetuate the problem and All You Have to Do is Look Inside will address the alternatives necessary to shift this belief and the way we operate.

There is a way to minimize what we are harmfully deeming the “bullying” epidemic, and first and foremost we must see it for what it truly is… the lack of a person recognizing the innate good and magnificence of who they are.  The bully does not see the magnificence of who he is nor does the victim.

One of the most important concepts in shifting the paradigm will be to feel your feelings and identify them rather than express feelings and over-identify with them.  This can occur through saying things like, “I feel angry” rather than, “I am angry.”

Beliefs about ourselves are anchored through our actions.  The belief that I am angry is anchored through acting angry. The belief I am a bully is anchored through acting like a bully. The belief I am a victim of something or someone is anchored through being the victim.  You see the paradigm here – one that every single one of us has fallen into before; we have excellent reasons for this behavior, but the truth remains that these beliefs and their subsequent actions are NOT our magnificence. 

Change your belief about yourself or others – recognize what that would feel like – take action based on the new belief and your expectations change.  We only see what we believe is possible – so believe it is possible and that is what you’ll look for.

Dr. Haim Ginott said, “I have come to the conclusion that I am the decisive element.  I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis is elevated.”  We have all been both the bully and the victim of the bully at various times in our life.  We can continue to live our lives in that limiting paradigm or we can move beyond to our depth of love, compassion, strength and faith in humanity.

Goethe said, “If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.  If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”  So decide who you want to be and learn about yourself, especially when you are NOT operating that way and then go on to discover, honor and express your magnificence – help others do that, too.

Pamela Dunn is the author of Journey to Your Soul’s Magnificence, the president of Your Infinite Life Training and Coaching Company and the founder of The Peaceful Project, a non-profit organization devoted to guiding people to discover, honor and live their unique life’s purpose.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Dos & Don’ts of Successful Post-Divorce Parent/Child Communication

Many thanks to Rosalind Sedacca for her guest post!


by Rosalind Sedacca

It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges a parent faces after divorce is staying in good communication with your children. Obviously all parents struggle with communication issues as their children grow, but children who have had their lives dramatically altered by separation or divorce need even more attention – and diligent observation by their parents.
Children tend not to tell you when they are angry, resentful, confused, hurt or depressed. Instead they reflect their problems through their behavior – acting out or perhaps turning inward in ways that you have not experienced prior to the divorce.
Here are some tips that most all professionals agree about as ways to encourage positive and productive communication between you and your children. Many of these are obvious or innate behaviors. Some can easily be forgotten amid the challenges you are juggling in your own life on a daily basis. 
Take time to see the world through your children’s eyes and you will be better able to meet their needs, understand their confusion or aggression and find appropriate  ways to dissolve tension through your conversation and caring behaviors.
·  Be available and attentive when your child comes to you to talk or ask questions. That means turning off the TV, putting down the newspaper, not answering the phone and giving them eye-contact and a welcoming smile. Sometimes attempting to talk to you is the result of considerable thought and risk on their part. Encourage these conversations when they happen.
·   It is helpful to sit, kneel or in other ways get down closer to your child’s level when you talk. Towering over them is a form of intimidation that does not translate into safety or trust.
·   Keep your conversations private unless they want to include others. Let them know they are safe in confiding to you and that you are interested and care about matters that concern them.
·   Don’t dismiss a subject lightly if it is one bothering your child. Laughing, joking or teasing will create alienation that ultimately will discourage your child to share what is bothering them with you. This is a dangerous road to travel, especially as your children develop into their teen years.
·   Equally important is to never embarrass your children or put them on the spot in front of others. This will immediately close the door to honest, trustworthy communication.
·    Avoid talking to your child when you are angry or upset with them or others. Promise to talk in a half-hour or hour at a specific place after you’ve had a chance to settle down and regain your objectivity.
·  Be an active listener. Don’t interrupt while your child is talking. Listen carefully and then paraphrase back what you heard them say. Ask if you’re right in your interpretation. They’ll tell you. This give and tack will   help you be more precisely understood what is really at issue.
·  Asking why can be intimidating and close off your conversation. Instead ask what happened questions which keep the dialogue open.
·  Be patient. Don’t react or respond until you get the full message. Sometimes it takes some meandering for your child to reach the crucial point of what they want to say. Don’t shut them off too soon!
·  Remember that preaching, moralizing or “parenting” comments can put up barriers to clear communication. Listening is your most valuable skill and tool.
·  Watch your judgments and put-downs, even with upsetting information. Don’t belittle your children, call them names or insult their behaviors. Talk to them – not at them! The difference is felt as respect.
·  Acknowledge your children for coming to you. Praise their braveness. If you were at fault, apologize honestly and discuss how you can make changes for the future.
·   Show that you accept and love them – even if their behaviors were not acceptable. Then help them come up with some acceptable solutions they can understand and feel good about.
Children who feel safe talking to their parents grow up as better communicators overall. They will be more likely to have healthy communication in their own adult relationships – with their spouses and children.
Families that keep feelings repressed, that don’t discuss issues that come up, send the message that it’s not all right to talk about things that bother us. The consequences of this can be seen in our nightly news headlines every day.
You can open the doors to caring communication in your home by starting today. Your children may be a little resistant at first as they test the waters, but they will surely appreciate this opportunity once they know you are sincere. Start the process yourself – and see how valuable it is to “hear” what your children have to say!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love!  For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, free articles, coaching services and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to:

© Rosalind Sedacca   All rights reserved.