One Family, Two Homes, Many Problems…and Solutions!

Baby on 2 Houses

(Note: whether you’re a separated parent or not, you may find this article useful for yourself, and possibly to pass on to someone you know it could help)

Although it is becoming more and more common for families with separated parents to have their children living between two homes, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy for all involved. The child(ren) may have difficulties following different routines, sleep patterns are inconsistent, sometimes their performance in school is affected, etc.

However, the fact that it isn’t necessarily easy for all involved also doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to live in such a scenario and have it truly work!

I have clients in various stages of separation – from the beginning stages of figuring out an arrangement to already separate and living for some time in two homes. This plus the fact that I too have my children living between two separate homes, gives me a lot of perspective on ways to manage this living arrangement in a healthy way for all.

I thought I would share a particular personal story and the results of the situation.

My daughter (at 6 years old) started to wake up several times during the night, calling “Mommy!” I would go to her, provide comfort till she fell back to sleep, until the next call out, “Mommy!” Finally, she would ask me to stay with her in her bed, which I would do till the morning.

I didn’t realize the impact of this, until my beloved fiancé (now husband) pointed out to me how ‘unworkable’ this is: for me and my sleep-health, for her, and….for him!

We decided to find out if this was happening in her other home, with her father. NOPE!

We set up a time to conference and exchange information on what each of us are doing in our respective homes in terms of routines. We went through the whole thing: morning routine, after-school routine, bed time routine, etc.

It was illuminating!

I was able to try their approaches, where mine seemed not to be working. And, likewise, they were able to try some of ours, where theirs weren’t working.

The result?

Consistency across two houses, leading to greater confidence and sense of safety and security for our daughter and ease in her routines. Not to mention PEACE OF MIND for all adults involved!

But not only was she (and we) sleeping through the night, another important result arose.

For those same few months we were getting regular reports from school that, while academically she is incredibly astute, behaviourally she was being disruptive in class during group time and not cooperating when asked to stop. Never a fun thing for the ego as a parent! Not to mention, we were concerned that this behaviour would overshadow her academic capabilities.

As we worked to maintain this semblance of consistency across the two houses for the benefit of our daughter, I found that I was transforming as a parent. I was actually starting to really practice more of what I and many other parenting practitioners preach: being consistent in my parenting, rules setting and keeping, and following through on consequences. I called it “Being a Firm-Wall while being loving and compassionate”

Interesting – this way of behaving on my part became a natural outcome when my focus was on creating and maintaining an environment that truly works for my daughter’s (and our family’s) success.

And the calls from school?

What calls? We stopped getting them.

So what are the key points you can take away from this story and bring to yours?

  1. Create consistent routines between 2-households. Of course, each parent may have very different lifestyles and work schedules so it’s not about being “exactly the same.” But, where possible, such as similar or same bedtime, and similar routine leading to bedtime, and ways of handling homework, discipline matters, etc.
  2. Keep a collaborative and communicative relationship with your ex-spouse – if not for you, for your children, which ultimately WILL benefit you.
  3. Focus on creating and maintaining an environment for your children that is conducive to their (and your) health and success. Try different approaches when the ones you’re using aren’t working.
  4. Be open to transforming yourself and your ways of acting. Why not? You are a growing and developing human being. Learning through this process keeps it dynamic and even fun for you.
  5. View and treat others as your partners for your children’s health and success. That includes your ex, potentially their new partner/spouse and yours, as well as school(s) teachers/principals, etc.

I wish you the very best with your parenting.

If you would like guidance on this, or any other parenting, separation/divorce, or relationship matter, please schedule a complimentary strategy session.

Don’t see a time in my schedule for you? Email me directly at tallie@familyforeverlifestyle.com

Warmly,

Tallie

Are You Going To Be A Post-Valentine’s Day Statistic?

Broken Heart with BandageResearch has shown that many break-ups, relationships and marriages, happen just after Valentine’s Day. In fact, lawyers have said they have had their phone ring on February 15th with people inquiring about divorce, more than on any other day of the year.

Why is this?

Often times these break ups are a reaction to frustration due to expectations not being met, over time. Until finally the expectant party gets fed up and calls it quits. This can tend to happen after one might have given it a chance to see what happens on Valentine’s Day. And if, once again, the other partner does not measure up to one’s expectation, that’s the breaking point.

How can you avoid this or other ‘reactive break ups’?

Whether you’re the one who is fed up or the one not meeting the other’s expectation (or both!), there is something you can do to make a clear and healthy choice:

  1. Re-examine your relationship from a place of commitment. If you are truly committed to having your relationship work, although simply committing doesn’t guarantee it will work, you have a much higher chance of it working when you stay true to your commitment.
  1. Ask yourself, “What expectations have I had of my partner (and/or myself, or/or of the relationship) that have not been met? Make a list of these expectations and be truthful – let it all out.
  1. Then ask yourself, “Are these expectations realistic?” Sometimes we have such high standards about ourselves or our partners that, upon new examination, are really fantasy-like or in the realm of “perfection” of the kind that is only in the movies. What’s most common is to expect our partner to change some attribute of their personality or how they do things…”and THEN things will be different.”
  1. Next, ask yourself, “can I accept the way my partner is?” Really look to see if you are willing to live with, with full acceptance, of the way your partner is, without expecting them to change, in order for you to be happy or in order for the relationship to work.
  1. Finally, make an authentic choice. If you are not willing to accept the way your partner is now, without expecting them to change in the future, be honest with yourself and with them and say so. But remember, that is your choice that you are making based on what you are willing or not willing to accept. As opposed to, “I’m not willing to accept this because you won’t change.” You will never have personal power when the other person is to blame for your choice.

If you are willing to accept your partner as they are, with no expectation for them to one day change, then make that choice. And then, it’s time to do the work to learn to truly be with one another, as you are. It is only then that you can potentially grow and learn, together.

I wish you clarity and confidence.

And, if you feel stuck, or you know someone who might be stuck, please respond and request a complementary Strategy Session with me.

You’re not alone.

When Are Kids Ready To Know?

I am often asked by clients or other parent-friends, “My son/daughter asked me “X” the other day. How do I know when it’s right to talk to my kids about [sensitive topics]? And, what should I say?”
This is a common concern for any parent, or, frankly, any adult with children or teens in their lives who they are close with. Here are a few things to think about, in order to find your right response:Parents Talking To Kid
When they ask, they are ready.
Sounds simple. And it is…somewhat. If a child or teenager has had the wherewithal to think about a particular matter, have a concern or question arise about that matter, and they have the courage to come out and ask about it, that tells me that they have readiness to get some answers.
Acknowledge your relationship.
It also tells me that there is some level of close relationship between you and that child, which provides enough comfort for him or her to be able to come to you. That is worth acknowledging, at the very least to yourself, that something you’ve done or some way you have been has allowed for this openness.
They want the truth.
Given that they are ready and you have the basis of the relationship you seem to have, respond with honesty. No matter how old we are, we want the truth. This honours your relationship, while honouring each of you. Honesty also provides added confidence for that young person to know that they can come to you again in the future and trust they’ll get the truth. In addition, this confidence transcends your relationship and can contribute to that young person’s personal strength in life, as well as their relationships going forward.
You get to choose what you say or not.
While you want to be honest, you also are the adult and want to bring discretion to what you share or what you don’t share. You don’t need to give unnecessary details. And, you also don’t need to share any information that could make another person look bad.
Make it safe for them to emote and react.
Depending on the topic at hand, the child may react with some emotion. They might be sad and they might cry. They might be upset or angry, and either withdraw or stomp away or let you have a piece of their mind. They may be calm, silent, or say little. Every person (including you and me) has a way of processing new information and reacting physically or emotionally. The key here is that whatever the reaction, it usually has a particular ‘life span’. In other words, it passes. If you and I let them express safely, usually it comes up, gets out, and clears away. If you and I react to their reaction, we add ‘weight’ to the emotion, keeping it around longer than it typically needs to be.
I encourage you to consider these things and incorporate them into your own value system as you see appropriate. I wish you the best with your commitments for peaceful and loving relationships.

We Divorced But Remained A Family!

Big Family Pic
I want to share something personal and meaningful with you…
Last Sunday was my daughter’s 6th birthday party. She just started a new school this year in the new neighbourhood we just moved to. To support her social acclimatization, we invited her whole class. We also invited a group of friends from her previous daycare and our old neighbourhood, in order to keep those connections alive, as well as other family and friends.
Who was there? 10 classmates, 5 daycare friends, 1 family friend, and…my first husband’s son from his new wife and our 2 grown sons.
Who organized the party? My daughter’s father, his wife and myself.
Many people have asked me, “How is it possible to truly have peace during and after divorce? And, for the whole family?”
The answer to that question has become my personal life mission – making THAT possibility a reality for other families.
The first answer is – in both my separations we dealt with our relationship breakdowns separate from our bigger commitment for our children’s success and well-being. Through many conversations (not always easy ones) we reached a conclusion that just because our relationship was not going to stay intact in a marital context, that didn’t mean that we couldn’t still have a ‘family context’ in which to raise our children.
With both of our intentions and attentions aligned on that bigger picture of “Family” we were able to design a family life that looks different than how we had originally imagined it when we first got married yet in a way that we were inspired by.
And, the second answer is – keep true to that bigger picture through maintaining our values, no matter what issues arise.
What does that mean? Well, you have values, right? For me, some of my values are family, open communication and our children being nurtured and fulfilled. When things get difficult, as life often does, it is easy for emotions to interfere and get in the way. And then we don’t behave in a way that we are so proud of. It is in those moments that our values are the most critical.
For example, I remember shortly after my first separation when my sons came home after a weekend with their dad. As they shared about their weekend a particular woman’s name was mentioned several times. So I asked, “Who is that?” “Oh, that is Dad’s friend.” I took a quick and very deep breath, and on the exhale let go of my annoyance and frustration with their Dad. (!!!) And, without changing my tone of voice or body language I completed the chat with my sons.
I later phoned my ex-husband and calmly shared about the situation, just as it happened without any judgement, and asked, “Can you and I talk first about new people we are bringing into our lives before introducing them to the children?”
Now, if it was my “annoyance and frustration” speaking? I don’t think that conversation would have gone very well.
But with my Values speaking? So much more pleasant! I could simply tell him what happened and ask for what I think is in our and our children’s best interest. Nobody is made guilty or to blame. Rather we are communicating with the purpose of realizing the bigger picture we said we want. And, we did come to an agreement to talk first before introducing the kids to new “friends.”
All of this takes practice. Yes, like anything important to us, we need to practice and sometimes not be successful but keep on practicing.
This past Sunday my daughter’s party was a result of years of this kind of practice.
Having my first husband, his wife, our 2 sons and their son…plus my daughter’s father and step mother…and not-to-mention, my beloved fiancé (this is a beautiful story for another time), all in one room together, laughing, talking and enjoying the party, makes all the years of practice SO worth it – for everyone.

Healing & Co-parenting After An Affair

If Tiger Woods and Elin Can Do It – So Can You!

Four years after their split-up, Elin Nordegren shared that she and ex-husband, Tiger Woods have a “really good relationship.”

I am not one for “gossip media” – at all. However through my research on this topic of my passion, peaceful divorce and having extraordinary family life no matter what the circumstance, I came across this story and it put a smile on my face.

Many of you likely know about the story of this famous couple. Tiger broke the sacred promise of monogamy in his marriage by engaging, not once, but dozens of times in extramarital affairs.

Affairs are damaging to marriage. Once that promise is broken, trust is broken with it.  broken rings

Although there are many success stories of couples who successfully re-create their marriage vows on a new foundation of trust and continue to be married for many years, there are more stories of those who split up and go their separate ways after.

It is rare for a couple to go through this kind of marital devastation and come out the other side in good relations, whether still together or not. However, it is possible. And Tiger and Elin are an example of this. As Elin explained, they have a good relationship and the focus on their children.

When there are children involved in any divorce, it is critical for the couple to develop a relationship as co-parents, regardless of the personal relationship breakdown. That takes a level of maturity. It takes a willingness to learn and grow in the process so those issues don’t get in the way of providing a healthy upbringing to the children.

Here are some important steps for separated couples after an affair(s):

Forgiveness – the first person who often needs to be forgiven is the one who had the affair to be forgiven by their self. The one who had the affair is usually filled up with guilt and even self-hatred. Forgiveness is “for” “giving”. Only you can give it to yourself. And the same goes for giving  another.

Trust Building – throughout your co-parenting relationship, practice making and keeping promises, small or big, that TRUSTdemonstrate reliability. It is important for the other partner to see a demonstration of some shift in character that will lend to the integrity of the parenting relationship and role-modelling to the child(ren).

What’s In The Past, Stays In The Past – once a couple has moved on, do not keep bringing up past incidents as a way to prove something wrong about the other person. “See? You always…” Or, “There you go again…” are usually communications that kill off the co-parenting (or any) relationship. This keeps people in the past, and unable to be in the present simply attending to the task that is, in reality, at hand in front of them.

While there are many other practices to take on in order to develop your relationship after an affair, I thought I would offer these few today.

If you have any questions about this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me @ tallie@peacefuldivorcecoach.com

Get a FREE copy of “5 Ways To End Your Marriage Without Ending Your Life” HERE

HOW TO LOVE IN ANY GIVEN MOMENT

Earlier this month in my blog, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce” I introduced the concept of “Pouring On The Love” so your children feel nurtured, important and secure during and after the separation or divorce process.

A reader wrote in and asked, “How can I pour on the love when my situation is such that I have 4Busy Mom with groceries children between the ages of 5 and 15, who are with me all but 2 weekends per month, I manage a household, a full time job, doctor appointments, etc….How do I make sure they are getting enough attention?”

Busy Dad in kitchen

Seeing as many of us parents can relate to having this type of concern, I thought I would share this with you all.

Pouring on the love is not always easy, but it is simple and is not necessarily what it seems. Mostly we think we need more time: If we had more time we could be more loving. While that perspective seems to make sense, it is not the only possible way. Being loving can happen in a given moment, in the process of doing what you’re doing.

For example:

Scenario: Take 1!

You are busy making dinner after a full day’s work. Maybe on the phone hands-free at the same time. Your child walks in the kitchen and wants your attention – to tell you a funny story or to complain about their sibling’s wrong-doings. In that moment, how you respond speaks. The first reaction may be a thought in your mind, “Argh, I can’t handle this all right now” or some version of that thought or feeling. When you react from there what is likely is an annoyed, frustrated type of reaction (words, body language, tone of voice, etc.), leaving your child with some experience of being a burden or the like. Mom screaming at child - funny

I don’t think there is any parent who couldn’t possibly understand and completely relate to this kind of experience. And, while this is understandable and even justified, the outcome we are left with is less than satisfying, and if the truth were told, we as parents are left feeling pretty horrible, and not how we truly want to be.

Take 2!

Your child comes to you with the same interruption to your dinner-making. Instead of reacting with annoyance and frustration that may initially be there, you choose to be loving there and then.

And…Action!

“Can you hold on a moment?” you say to the person on the phone. You stop what you are doing temporarily. Look at your child in the eyes, and ask, “What is it?” And listen. (Often this takes less time in reality than our mind anticipates the interruption will be)

Then determine how to deal with whatever your child has said. If it was a story share, give them a kiss and say, genuinely “Thank you for telling me this. I’m getting back to making dinner; we’ll be ready to sit down together in about 15 minutes.” Or, if it was a complaint regarding a sibling, see if you can offer a word of advice for them to handle the situation and encourage them to go back in there and deal with it. Dad listening to daughter

How you deal with your child actually speaks, often more than the words themselves. In this scenario your child is more likely to be left with the experience of being important and loved.

And Cut!

Now, you may reflect on this and think, “how can I be this way, really?” or “How can I be this way all the time?”

Hold on. Give yourself a break. You are in the “practice of parenting” AND if you’re in the process of separating or divorcing, you are in the “practice of parenting through separation” now, too. The operative word is “practice.” Allow yourself some grace and space. You will have some successes and you will have some failures, just like anyone who is practicing being good at something that is important to them.

The key is: Stay The Course.

And, I recommend that you don’t “be alone” in your practice. Buddy up with another like-minded parenting adviceparent or friend to support each other.

 

Consider getting some coaching or training from a professional on mastering this craft so you have more wins than failures over time.

Did this help you? Please leave a comment or question.

How To Manage Other People’s Opinions About Your Break Up

why are we friends

 

 

 

I remember in 2009 finding myself sitting in a lawyer’s office after stating I want sole custody of my daughter.

It felt strange. Like an out of body experience. But it was clearly me, sitting in my body, sitting in that office.

The “wake up moment” happened after I told that lawyer that I’d just brought my daughter to her father’s house for a Father’s Day visit and was planning to take her over there the next day again. The lawyer responded, “Don’t do that”

I asked, “How come?”

He said, “Because if the two of you are able to communicate between yourselves, then you don’t need me.”

LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

At the core of my value system is Communication. What I heard the lawyer telling me (and I’m clear that he was just doing his job cause I asked him to ‘get me sole custody’) was to go against my core value….in order that I can have the lawyer speak for me.

I thanked the lawyer for his time, went home and proceeded to call my ex-partner. Within a 10 minute phone conversation that neither of us will forget, we ironed out a custody and visitation agreement that we and our daughter are all happy with. We sorted out our inter-personal differences over time, and, until today, we maintain extraordinary communication.

Why am I sharing this?

Well, what led me to seek out sole custody and end up in the lawyer’s office was the opinion of other people who love me and care about me, and who were worried about what might happen if I don’t get full custody. Friends giving advice - guy and girl

Were they wrong to express their opinion about what I should do?

Absolutely not.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my emotions were clouding my vision so much that I was reacting to those opinions out of desperation, as opposed to listening to those opinions as exactly that, opinions.

So how should you manage other people’s opinions?

  1. Be open to listening to what people have to say, but remember it is their view based on their experience and knowledge. You want to weigh those views with your own carefully.
  2. Be clear about your vision for your self and your family life.When you have a sense of the end product you envision for your life personally and your family-life you can weigh those opinions against that vision. Ask yourself if pursuing those others’ approaches will lead you closer to your vision. The answer may be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and that is for you to determine and pursue.
  3. Be grounded in your core values.Often we think we know what our core values are but we actually have them mixed up with something else. Take some time to connect to your inner core, your soul, or what you believe is really important, no matter what. These core values are the anchor that keep you being ‘you.’ When your friends and family express their views, tune in to your core values and see if their suggestions would be an expression of your core values or not.

This is a dance; a paradox. Yes – listen to what others have to say. And, Yes – listen to yourself.

Please leave your comments below as I’m always curious about your views….

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