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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Holiday Survival Kit

Take a deep breathe.

Acknowledge that the holidays are coming. For ‘any’ family that raises the stress quotient by no less than 27%. Being divorced adds another 15-20% regardless of the state of the relationship with your ex. Why? Well, there are numerous factors that come into play.

1. School: Depending on where you live, kids may be out the entire week while you may have two days off.
2. Christmas: Long before Thanksgiving the kids begin eyeing that glorious morning. Catalogues start arriving and items are getting circled well in advance of the carving of the t-day bird. Each child’s energy subsequently increases exponentially as their already short attention spans suffer serious drop offs andfd429767a2ccdf1658f9889d081c65c5 their ability to listen flies out the window.
3. Finances: Holidays = $$$. Not trying to be a scrooge by any means. It’s just a reality. Between holiday meals, decorations (lights, trees, etc), presents, travel, vacation time, child care needs, aspirin, therapy … it adds up.
4. Family: Look, the truth is, that for most humans the idea of getting together with family brings thoughts of both warm fuzzies AND which alcohol to consume first. It’s just natural. We all have parents and siblings. Bottom line: it’s always fun to parent when you yourself have regressed to the age of seven.
5. Weather: Days are shorter. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s dreary. Kids are inside more (see number 2). I’m depressing myself just thinking about it.
6. There’s a good chance you won’t be with your kids as much as you’d like and will have moments without them that will understandably bum you out.
7. Thanks to brilliant advertising agencies, the perception is that everyone’s head is full of sugarplum fairies during the holidays. The reality is for a lot of people the holidays are one of the most depressing times of the year. For some it’s grieving loved ones lost through the year. For others the holidays bring back painful memories. Regardless, if you’re down I guarantee you you’re not alone.

My advice? Sit back and let it happen. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to control it all or understand why you continually find yourself in the fetal position while your parents attempt to comprehend what divorce means in the twenty-first century. Remember that you’ve done well. Your life may not be perfect, but you’ve overcome a lot to get to this point and have a great deal to celebrate.

If you can’t be with your kids; surround yourself with supportive friends, family, neighbors etc. If you’re single, don’t just sit in the house alone. I promise you there are people in your life who would love nothing more than to open their homes and hearts to you this holiday season. If you and your ex are fortunate enough to be on speaking terms, take advantage of opportunities to be together with the kids. The kids know you’re divorced. They get it. But it does wonders for them to be able to spend a peaceful hour or two with both their mom and dad at the same time and not have to choose.

First and foremost, resolve to live by the creed of “If the kids are happy, I’m happy.” Make it fun for them. Encourage them to enjoy every single moment of it whether they’re with you or their mom. Give them that. It’s a gift they’ll hold with them their entire lives. Always remember, regardless of your situation, you’re creating their memories, right now. You owe it to them to do your best to make their recollections of the holidays something that will always make them smile. In doing so, you’ll likely enjoy them a great deal yourself.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Father / Son Video Blog

My son said he wanted to do a video blog and learn how to edit videos. So we had some fun this weekend creating our first one. It meant the house wasn’t picked up and several errands didn’t get done, but the time we spent creating this was worth every second. Something tells me there will be more coming along with a father / daughter video blog in the not too far off future!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Over Under Sideways Down

I asked one of my children the other day, “So how much of a pain is it to go back and forth between two houses?” I was floored when they told me, “Actually dad, it’s kind of cool.” We didn’t get into a deep conversation about it, but what I took away from the conversation was that our effort to ensure the kids had what they needed including good relationships with both of us was working. For them, this is their reality, and they’ve adjusted well. That’s not to say that from time to time the occasional “it wouldn’t be like that if you and mom weren’t divorced,” doesn’t rear its ugly head. But then the same holds true for the always popular “You’re ruining my life,” and “I hate this family.” It’s just another way of them lashing out to express their dismay with a situation or any form of discipline that provides necessary boundaries.

For the most part they’ve handled it well. In fact on some levels they’ve probably handled it better than their mom and I since they always have one of us around. The only point at which it becomes an issue is when they feel like they have to choose between one parent or thecropped-Main-Logo-v41 other. They may want to do something with one parent, but can feel guilty for leaving the other one behind, especially if it’s supposed to be that parent’s time with the kids. All you can do is encourage them that nobody’s feelings will be hurt either way.

As for the parents; one of the most difficult aspects of divorce has been the on and off again aspect of being a divorced dad (or mom). Even though I know I’m their dad 24/7 and despite the texting and facetime aspects of today’s technology, the contrast between being with them and not being with them can be an extraordinary adjustment to the system. It’s an element of the divorce that I don’t believe people fully take into consideration when they make the decision to split, even if their choice is to co-parent.

Whether you have your kids every other weekend or every other week; whether you custody is 50/50, 60/40, 80/20, 90/10; there is one fundamental truth that’s undeniable; when they’re not with you it can suck the life right out of you. I don’t know that you ever become 100% OK with that fact, but it does help you focus on making the most of the time you do have with them.

That said. Seeing them flourish makes it worth it. Good grades, healthy relationships with friends and interest in social activities tells me they’re doing OK. It doesn’t mean things are perfect or that there aren’t frustrating aspects of this arrangement for everyone involved. But consistent experiences working through it all as a team, as dysfunctional as it can be at times, seems to be working. That in and of itself is worth finding ways to work through things with their mom even when we both would probably prefer not to.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Trolling for Feedback

If you do nothing else today, let your kid know that something creative they did was awesome. And don’t just say it, show it. Be expressive and genuinely impressed with what they’ve done. Don’t critique it. Don’t offer how it could be better. Just let them know that their effort to try something new or take a creative risk was incredible. Because the very fact that they had the courage to share their work was indeed quite amazing.

For those who haven’t yet caught up, your children are able to put themselves out their for all the world to see more easily than ever in the history of kid-dom. They may write a poem, sing a song, do a back flip, dye their hair or share their opinion on Taylor Swift’s new album. They then have the ability to share this with the world with the simple click of a button; opening themselves up to every troll on the internet who is sitting at home in their underwear looking for things and people to make fun of.

I’m not even going to get into the ill-advised photo that goes viral. Or a video someone takes of someone else doing something stupid and then posts without the person’s knowledge. That’s an entirely different subject. No, I’m talking about kids innocently utilizing social media for Internet-Trollfeedback, and expecting or at least hoping for something positive or at the very least constructive.

All too often what they get instead is a comment from some idiot, hiding behind a fake profile, poking fun at people who have the guts to actually put themselves out there. All it takes is one negative comment on a new video post or instagram photo to induce extreme embarrassment and cause a kid to recoil into an insecure ball of shame curled up in the closet.

If you haven’t already done so, first talk to your kids about the fact that once they post something, it’s there for ALL the world to see, so make sure it’s something they genuinely feel good about. I made my stand up comedy debut in front of about fifty people and still wake up with cold sweats over over how bad it was. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it had happened in front of 100,000,000 people (and trust me I keep waiting for the tape of it to emerge on YouTube). But that’s the potential the internet provides. Mind you, chances are your kid’s video is going to max out at 45 hits, especially if it’s something innocent and unassuming. But they need to remember that when you post something on-line, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable and somewhere down the road you’re going to get a dislike or negative comment. As adults we get it (though it still sucks), but to a young kid who expects everyone to love what they do it can be a hard lesson.

So be your kid’s first “like.” Let your kid know that they’re amazing and what they do is amazing. Let them know that not everyone is going to like what they do. And that it doesn’t matter. They need to keep searching for the audience who gets them and loves what they do. Teach them to be able to brush aside the negativity, accept any and all criticism, acknowledge when they may need to take some of it to heart and adjust, but to NEVER let it stop them from moving forward. The truth is you can post just about anything and get both good and bad responses. And isn’t that the truth every day?

We can curse the internet and the volume of things our children are now exposed to, or we can embrace it and take every opportunity to use it as a life lesson for our kids. But it takes effort. It takes monitoring. It takes observing. It takes listening, watching, talking, discussing and caring. It’s going to take your time, but what better way to spend your time than learning about your kids and teaching them the realities of the world, people and the very society they’re so eager to interact with. What better way to teach them to deal with adversity, and develop a thick skin. Two attributes that will do them well in a world filled with so many unassuming trolls.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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