Upcoming Tele-discussion: Co-Parenting For the Sake of Our Boys

April 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles

Co-parenting Teleconference Call

Please join WeParent and the Raising Him Alone Campaign for a f*r*e*e tele-conference call on Wednesday, April 13 at 8:30pm ET.  We’ll be discussing the benefits of co-parenting to raise healthy & productive boys.  Our own Talibah Mbonisi will be leading the call and sharing the WeParent mission to support parents in working out their differences so they can raise healthy boys who will become men.

Often the issues between parents prevent boys from growing up in an optimal home environment. Whether it’s decisions about religion, extra-curricular activities, punishment & discipline parents who are on the “same page” increase the success of their sons.

WeParent is one of the Raising Him Alone southern based strategic partners.

Be sure to RSVP here.

605.475.4000 (8:30 p.m. EST)
Participant pin 324970#

Please submit questions for the call via email at info@raisinghimalone.com.

Co-Parenting Matters This Week: Parental Alienation–A Family’s Heartbreak

January 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Podcast

This Sunday on Co-Parenting Matters, we’ll be talking about parental alienation which is “when one parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between his or her child and the child’s other parent.”  Our guest will Michael Jeffries author of the book, A Family’s Heartbreak:  A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation.  Inspired by his own experiences as an alienated father, Mike co-wrote this book with Dr. Joel Davies to share how normal, healthy parent-child relationships can quickly go from hugs to heartbreak during high-conflict divorce and separation. In addition to being an author, Mike is an ardent advocate for parents and children torn apart by parental alienation.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) in his efforts to raise all of our awareness of this destructive behavior.

On Sunday, we’ll be giving away 2 copies of A Family’s Heartbreak, courtesy of Mike Jeffries. During the show, tune in or follow us on Twitter @coparentingshow to find out how you can win one.  (Here’s a hint…you’ll need to call-in, so set a reminder now!)

We hope you’ll join the conversation, too!  Call in at (646)378-0580, listen to the live stream and chat with us online, or tweet us (@coparentingshow).  That’s this Sunday, January 23, at 9:30pm ET.

**Programming note: This show is dedicated to raising awareness of parental alienation and how to protect children.  Our position is that unfounded accusations of parental alienation do not negate the existence of parental alienation.  Therefore, we will not be debating the existence of parental alienation; no calls or comments in that spirit will be acknowledged.

MamaSpeak: The Non-Custodial Other

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

One of the most challenging situations confronting single parents is that of visitation and interacting with the courts.  In The Myth of the Broken Home – Guidebook for Single Parents, one of the most delicate chapters for me to speak on is “The Non-Custodial Other” as it stirs up many emotions for me.

During this time, my daughter, Tamara, was about five years old, I was coming out of a domestic violence situation, and my daughter had become accustomed to seeing her father on a daily basis.  He was in her life from the time she was born, whereas my son knew little about his dad because we divorced when my son was about a year old.  Soon after my first divorce, his father, in the military at the time, was relocated to the east coast.   So basically I had very little control over whether or not he chose to see my son.

I vividly recall my daughter’s terrifying scream when departing from her dad at the storage place where we met to retrieve our items.  Upon entering, when she saw him, she was elated and played as if nothing happened.  But that’s expected of a five year old child, and it also displayed the love she had for her father, particularly since soon after the domestic violence occurred, she would sit in the back of the car, yelling in her little voice, “I hate my daddy.” I would tell her, “You do not hate your father, Ta’mara, you hate what he did”.  My babies hurt, and I saw them hurting, however, I refused to allow my children to become embittered by the situation that could affect them for the rest of their lives.  The forgiveness and the healing were not for him but for my babies.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I was not going to put her in harm’s way, but for two years he refused to see her.  He made promises and did not comply with the court order, and on many occasions I drove her to his house.  I despised him during this time as I watched him hurt my daughter over and over again, but inside I knew she needed him in her life.  As my son grew up, his father swore I was trying to keep him away, and I said, “I can’t wait until he gets of age so you can see that it’s not me.”  “If you were in his life like a father should be, there would be nothing I could do to keep him away from you.”  His accusations upset Jamal, because it was I who often encouraged Jamal to contact his father.   Although he is now a young adult, I continue to encourage him to send his father a card or to call.

As a society, we often talk about the importance of boys having a positive male role model to aid them towards developing into men, but that is equally, if not more important, for girls.  The dynamics that exist in a relationship between a male and female are innate, and it doesn’t matter if it’s mother-son or father-daughter; these relationships are pertinent for our children’s emotional development.

Today our girls are grappling with their identity, aimlessly searching for someone to show them affection and approve of them.  Again, if they don’t have a positive male role model during their stages of development, they will by means of their own understanding fill that void.   My son, who is 9 years older than his sister, was a big support and continues to be a very influential male in her life, especially when her father was not there.  As I sit and reflect back on these times, I begin to cry because I am so thankful, so grateful, for how far God has brought us and that he is allowing me to share with others how we all can make this work together.  Don’t get me wrong; it is tough as I still remain pretty protective over her, but today Tamara and her father have a wonderful relationship.  Just because he and I were at odds does not mean it will be the same with him and his daughter.

Visit www.nobrokenhome.com
to learn more about
The Myth of the Broken Home – Guidebook for Single Parents

WeParent Workshop (Atlanta): Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power!

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events


Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power Workshop
10am to 4pm
Smyrna Community Center
Smyrna, GA

Download:  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power Workshop Flyer

Register for WeParent Workshop (Atlanta):  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power! in Smyrna, GA  on Eventbrite

If your relationship with your child’s other parent is causing conflict, stress, anger and plain old drama in your life, it’s probably impacting your children negatively, too.  But…It doesn’t have to!

Join us for “Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power”, a full-day workshop focused on equipping you with tools to overcome the drama that steals your co-parenting power.  If you’re a single parent doing on your own or who wants to build a stronger parenting partnership for the sake of your kids, you’ll benefit from this workshop…even if your child’s other parent doesn’t participate.

Here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Get you focused on your vision and goals for co-parenting and parenting
  • Mastermind an action plan to help you realize your vision and stay focused on it day-to-day
  • Upgrade your skills for dealing with the drama in your co-parenting relationship…and in your life
  • Gift you with a support network to keep you moving forward after the workshop has ended

Register for WeParent Workshop (Atlanta):  Reclaim Your Co-Parenting Power! in Smyrna, GA  on Eventbrite

Seating is limited.

“Co-Parenting Teens” on the Next “Co-Parenting Matters” Show

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

Parenting adolescents is hard work in general, but what unique challenges come with parenting teens across two households?  We’ll explore this question on Sunday night’s episode of “Co-Parenting Matters” on BlogTalk Radio.

We’ll be joined by Annie Fox, an educator, award-winning author, and online adviser to teens and their parents. Annie helps teens get what they need for healthy social/emotional development.

We’ll also be joined by Samantha Gregory, mom of a 14-year-old daughter (and younger son), who foundedRichSingleMomma.com to empower her fellow single mommas to overcome personal obstacles and to become joyful and prosperous.

We hope you’ll join the conversation as well!  That’s Sunday night, 9/12 at 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT on BlogTalkRadio (call in 646.378.0580, chat, or tweet with us @coparentingshow!)

Courtesy of Annie Fox, we are giving away a copy of Book 1 in her Middle School Confidential Series, “Be Confident in Who You Are!” There are 2 ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Leave a comment below sharing one of your middle school memories…happy or horrific.

or…

2) Answer this trivia question: Name one of  Annie Fox’s tips for teaching your daughter relationship smarts.Visit anniefox.com to find out.  Those posting correct answers  in the comments section below will be entered into the drawing.

You can enter right up to Sunday night’s show.  We’ll announce the winner on air and in Twitter.  Enter as often as you’d like!

Co-Parenting Conflict from the Mouth of Babes:
Interview with Kara Bishop of Postcards from Splitsville

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles, Spotlight

Months ago we had the opportunity to interview Kara Bishop, founder of  Postcards from Splitsville, a site that allows children of divorce to anonymously and creatively post their thoughts and feelings online.  We’re finally sharing it with you!


WP: Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got involved in working in this area around kids.

Kara: I started dating a man who was divorced.  He had young children.  When the kids got a little older and were able to understand things, the ex-wife started letting information slip about how the marriage ended, why the marriage ended, adult information that these little kids really didn’t need to know about.

The 2 older children actually pulled away from the father, the younger one still needed the father’s affection; he was 10 at the time.  After he visited, he would go home and they would call him a traitor and try to convince him to not go anymore.  This this poor kid was just torn in half literally. He couldn’t stop loving his dad.  It just wasn’t possible.  But he didn’t want to betray his mom and the other members of his family.

The child and I were close, and we worked on a little book of promises for parents to make.  It got me really interested in what was going on.

I took the book to Dr. Frank Williams who runs a program here in Tucson called Children of Divorce.  It’s this fantastic 8-week program that kids and parents go through to help them cope.  I got involved with that, and I started working with the 10-12 year olds and was able to create some of the exercises for the class.

And…I’m a huge fan of postsecret.com.  Have you ever heard of that?

WP: I have, yes.

Kara: It’s just a site, very similar to mine, except it’s secrets that adults send in.  I thought we should do something like this for the kids, because one of the exercises we do is, if we can’t cope with something, we either let it go or write it on a piece of paper and burn it or something like that.

So, I thought let’s try this postcard thing, and the kids loved it.  The first couple of times that I did it, I was just shocked at how amazingly in touch with themselves these 10-12 year olds were as far as expressing themselves about how upset they were.

Oh, and I actually met Frank Warren [founder of postsecret.com] and got his blessing.

WP: That was very respectful of you to do that.

Kara: I tell people this is a site for kids to vent their feelings and then come and see that other kids have the same issues.  But really, I think at this point that it’s more for adults, so they can see the pain that their kids go through.

WP: It was really eye opening and impactful as an adult to see the creative expression of what they are feeling, so I can see how this becomes a site for adults.  I can definitely see that.

Kara: The letters that I get aren’t from kids.  They are from adults saying, “Oh, my God, I’ve actually heard these words from my kids and I never really understood.”  For example I get a lot of comments from parents about having said they wish they’d never met their ex, in front of their kids.  They say, “I’ve said that and now I just feel horrible.”

WP: I guess that the translation for a kid is, “You wish I didn’t exist.”

Kara: Right, and they don’t get that, yes, you don’t mean it, but that’s what the kid hears.

WP: When we are careless in how we communicate about the experience of a relationship ending and about the other parent, kids are going to fill in the gaps.  They are going to translate it.  They are going to make it meaningful in a way that they understand.  And in their world, a lot of times that’s scary.

Kara: Or the other effect that I’ve seen, too, is kids that are scared to death of being fired from their family because they have seen another parent fired.

You think the kids don’t know…and they probably don’t understand a lot.  But they try to understand in their own way, and they end up making up something that’s just so much more horrible than the truth.

WP: Let’s talk a little bit about the impact of divorce on children particularly when parents aren’t really handling the conflict well.  What have you seen in the work that you’ve been doing with children of divorce and through Postcards from Splitsville?

Kara: Well, the kids that I work with come to us within months of the divorce.  The impact, wow, it’s almost always devastating.

What I see that makes me upset the most is that a lot of the kids feel there is one person to blame for the divorce.  I think they do that, because somebody has to be the blame…and thank God it’s not them.  Very few of our kids these days think it’s their fault any more.  That used to be a huge issue when we first started, but now it’s not.

And, the whole needing to figure out why this is happening and then placing the blame on someone, I think is really hard on them; because it interferes with the relationship that they had prior to the divorce with one of the parents or both sometimes.

It just rocks their world.  These kids need a sense of stability, and all of a sudden, the most stable thing in their family, whether there was a lot of fighting or not, is caput. It’s broken.  And, it often involves the disappearance of one parent, and mostly it’s the father.

WP: Right.

Kara: And that changes a little here and there, because more fathers have custody of their kids now.  But mostly it’s still the mother.

I’ve seen how these fathers are just set aside, not every single one, of course, right, but it’s almost as if that was an extra piece in our life that we really didn’t need, like that third car or something.

WP: Like an extra appendage?  I wonder if sometimes fathers don’t see themselves that way, too.

Kara: I think they do.  For example, if the marriage ended because of an infidelity on his part,  the guilt there can be immense, and he might feel he doesn’t deserve the children because of what he did.  But, that’s where I would say, okay, but the kid still needs you.

Whatever you did wrong, you can still give love and support, and your child needs that to grow, needs that second set of love, the second opinion, the whole second part.

I think there needs to be a more intense education on how to raise your kids in this unique situation that people just wing.  They wing it, and they don’t understand how devastating almost every word can be.  These kids latch onto one sentence, and that’s the sentence that defines everything for them.

WP: How can an outlet like Postcards from Splitsville help?

Kara: Well again, I created it as a vent for the kids.  But the benefit is really for parents…just to make them stop and think and maybe put that anger in check, because your kids is listening and affected by it.

WP: Thank you for the work you’re doing and for sharing it with our WeParent family.

To learn more, browse postcards or download a postcard for a child to submit, visit www.postcardsfromsplitsville.com.

Co-Parenting Matters June Line-up

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

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We’re celebrating Father’s Month on Co-Parenting Matters!  Check out our line up celebrating dads:

June 6: Full Custody Dad with Fred Campos, founder of Daddy Got Custody, LLC

June 13:  Bonds, Not Blood with guests William Foster and Brandon Wilson, two dads co-parenting children who are not biologically related, after a break-up.

June 20: Dads Behind Bars with Fatherhood Freestyle columnist Mike McCrae, and Britni Danielle, who blogs about her experiences at ThisSideoftheWall

June 27 :  Odd Man Out: The Distant Non-Custodial Parent vs. The Everyday Stepfather with David, who blogs at InkogNegro 2.0

Join us via phone at (646)378-0580,or listen to our live stream at blogtalkradio.com/CoParentingMatters.

——

“Co-Parenting Matters” is a live, weekly, online talk show airing Sundays at 9:30 PM EST on BlogTalkRadio.  The show is a collaborative effort between WeParent.com and CoParenting101.org.

Co-Parenting Requires A Plan

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

boy_blueprint_artimgIn addition to being a requirement for custody and child support orders in many states, a parenting agreement or plan can be an extremely helpful tool for managing a parenting partnership. Whether your state requires one or not, we recommend that parents lay a foundation for a solid co-parenting partnership that includes a parenting plan. In many ways, a parenting plan is to co-parents what a business plan is to a corporation, a living document that establishes guidelines, expectations for managing the business of raising healthy, happy children.

A good parenting plan is clear; anticipates the needs of your children, and you over the life cycle of your co-parenting relationship; sets a path for improved communication and partnering over time; and focuses on the win-win-win scenario. It is comprehensive, gently balancing specifics with enough flexibility to accommodate all of the shifts and changes that life and growth involve. Some of the areas that your plan should address include:

  • Education
  • Medical, dental and vision care
  • Rules and discipline
  • Decision-making processes and dispute resolution
  • Religious training
  • Child care
  • Special occasions, school events and vacations
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation and transitions between homes
  • Communication between parents
  • Communication between parents and children
  • Rights of grandparents, extended family and close friends
  • Role of parents’ new partners
  • Counseling for children and parents
  • Custody arrangements
  • Process for modifying the plan
  • Insurance
  • Co-Parenting philosophy and commitment

Ideally, parents should develop the parenting plan themselves, using the help of professionals like mediators, divorce or co-parenting coaches, counselors or attorneys focused on supporting your co-parenting efforts. As parents, we know our children and our own circumstances better than a third party with no experience with your family. Of course, the process involves being able to separate your adult relationship from the best interests of your child. And, it may take time to get to that place; so many experts recommend starting with a temporary agreement for a few months rather than pressuring yourselves to arrive at a final plan while you are still in the most difficult period of emotional healing and transition.

There is an abundance of resources available to help you and your co-parent create a parenting plan that works for your family. Resources range from online or downloadable software, to downloadable templates and books. And, of course, you should use professionals like mediators, attorneys, counselors and financial planners to support your efforts.

Parents who successfully partner in developing a co-parenting plan often find that it limits both the financial and emotional costs of a court fight, for them and their children. Though getting there may be difficult, having a plan in place can reduce tension between you, because the rules of engagement are clear and agreed upon. Knowing that there is a plan to which you have both contributed helps to reduce some of the worry that may come when your children are away from you. It is a process, but in the end, a parent-negotiated, parent-endorsed parenting plan can be the foundation of an effective co-parenting relationship.

Staying Close to Your Kids…from a Distance

December 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

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Our family uses a pretty evenly split parenting time schedule to ensure that our son spends time with both parents on a weekly basis and that we both have hands-on intimate involvement in all aspects of his life.  So, we both get to spend time with him regularly.  Still, when he’s away from me, the truth is, I miss him and I want him to know that even when we’re apart, I’m still loving him.

I imagine that I’m not the only one, so here are a few suggestions for maintaining a connection with your children while you’re away from them:

  • Use a mix of scheduled and spontaneous contact. Scheduled contact should be agreed upon by both parents.  It should be at regular times and be convenient for everyone involved.  You might be missing your child, but you aren’t doing him, her or your co-parent any favors by disrupting breakfast, dinner or bedtime.  So, work this out up front.  Similarly, spontaneous contact is nice, but, again, work with your co-parent to ensure that your calls are not disruptive or too frequent.

  • Go online with email and internet-based tools for connecting. Be sure to teach your children online safety.  And, you may want to consider using a tool specifically to keep families connected.

  • Give your children their own phone line. Two kid-centric cell phone companies we’re aware of are Firefly and Kajeet.  If you go with this option, be prepared to establish rules on acceptable cell phone use and to teach your children cell-iquette and safety.  And, ideally, get buy-in from your co-parent.  If you and your child’s other parent don’t communicate or consistently have high-conflict contact, this may be a great option.

  • Schedule an off-time date. If you are apart from your children for extended periods, consider a periodic dinner or a coffee…well, orange juice, date to break things up.  Coordination with your child’s other parent is key, as is adhering strictly to agreed upon pick-up and drop-off times.

  • Keep a “Thinking About You” journal. Don’t just think about your children, write a note, paste photos, add newspaper clippings…whatever helps you chronicle and illustrate just how much you’re thinking about them.  During their next stay with you, share.

  • Create a letter writing kit…for both of you. Purchase a notebook, a keepsake box, stickers, colored pencils, etc. and teach your children the lost art of letter writing.  You’ll not only create a special activity that just the two of you share, you’ll both collect wonderful keepsakes to go along with the memories.

  • Give your child a personalized gift that s/he can touch, feel and/or hear on a daily basis to remind them that you care. Some options might be: a locket, special box, stuffed animal or just a specially framed photo of the two of you.

These are just a few options, but there are so many more.  Be creative, allow your children to inspire you and take the lead in staying connected.  Our children need to be reminded that even when we’re apart, our hearts and minds remain with them.

10 Things To Say To Your Children During Your Divorce

November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

sad_girlIn his last article, Wolfgang Gruener of SingleParentGossip shared 10 things not to say to your kids during your divorce.  This time, he’s back with 10 things you actually should say:

Be realistic: It will be a difficult conversation and you need to be prepared as much as you can. Make sure your children are the first ones to know about the separation.  They should not learn about it from others. When you first talk to them, set enough time aside and create a calm setting, with both parents being present. You need to limit your discussion to the most pressing topics. Do not overwhelm them with information.

Follow a certain set of ground rules during your conversation: Plan ahead with your spouse.  Be truthful, but avoid inappropriate topics such as child custody or child support payments. Be respectful to the other parent, keep your emotions in check and do not yell. Be sensitive to how they react to the news.  Listen to your children and hear their fears and concerns. Welcome their questions.  Plan more discussions with your children.

Depending on where you are in the divorce proceedings, there are a few important things you need to tell your children, and reemphasize to them during the divorce and even later on.

1. Mom and dad are separating because …
In some cases, this may be a very easy topic to talk about, in others it may be very difficult. Be aware that many children of divorce are unhappy about the fact that they were never told a reason for the divorce of their parents. Be truthful, but, of course, you cannot mention reasons such as adultery. In such a case you will need to find a different, more general reason such as that you have differences you cannot agree on. You may be angry at your (ex-) spouse for his/her infidelity, but this is not the right time to tell your children. They will find out themselves when they are older. It is also important to remember that you do not have to mention that you and your partner do not love each other anymore.

2. Mom and dad can be better parents when they live in different homes.

This is closely connected to the explanation of why you are separating and it will introduce your children to the upcoming change that there will be two differenthomes. You can elaborate on this topic further down the road and explain that there will be rules that are the same in mom’s and dad’s house, but some may be different.

3. Things are going to be different, but we will work as a team to make them ok.

Typically, the advice is to tell your children that “everything will be ok”. We do not agree with this phrase, simply because you cannot promise your children that everything will be ok. The fact is that not everything will be ok and your children will be very aware of the promises you make. There will be change. There will be different homes. There will be problems. Instead of telling them that things will be just ok, make sure that your children know that you are in control and they do not have to worry. Never make any promises you cannot keep!

4. It is not your fault.
Children often blame themselves for a divorce and they believe it is something that happened because of their actions. It is critical that you reassure them that the divorce is not their fault.

5. Mom and dad will not marry each other again.
Your children will ask you whether you and your spouse will remarry. Remove the illusion that mom and dad will get together and marry again. Your children need to understand that the divorce is final and they are moving into a new phase of their life. You need to remove confusion and uncertainty. Create an environment they can understand and provide stability as quickly as possible. You may feel that it is easier to tell your children that mom and dad may get back together at some point again, but you have to be honest to yourself that this is rather unlikely. Remember: Do not make promises you cannot keep.

6. You will not be alone.
Tell your children that you will always be there for them, no matter what. Encourage them to ask questions. Make sure they know they can come to you whenever they want to and need to. You are the one building a stable life for them.  They need to rely on your comfort and strength.

7. I know you are sad.

Be compassionate and aware of the feelings of your child. Comfort your children and hug them. They need to know that you know about their pain and that you know that they are upset. It will make it easier for them to comprehend that you will do everything in your power to help heal the wounds.

8. You can always call mom / dad.
Separating parents will, whether you like it or not, create a perception of distance between the children and parents. It is up to you to limit that distance and perhaps even remove it entirely over time. An important tool is to build an open communication channel between the children and each parent. Tell them that they will always be able to call mom/dad, whenever they need and want to. Discuss other emerging communication channels such as email and text messages. In fact, for teenagers, text messaging has become the most important way of communicating with their parents.

9. You will see mom  … / You will see dad …
parenting schedule is an important part of your future life with your children and an important part of the stability they need. As soon as you have an idea how the parenting schedule will look, provide as much information as you possibly can. Avoid changes and the discussion about changes which may be very confusing to your children. You will be surprised how quickly even young children can understand and adjust to parenting plans and how confusing changes are to them.

10. Mom and dad love you very much.

We cannot emphasize enough how important this sentence is. While you are in pain, a divorce is more than likely making  your children wonder whether you or your spouse may abandon them or whether they are at fault that the divorce is happening. Make sure that they know that they are loved very much by both mom and dad. Depending on the age of your children you will be faced with questions of a possible stepmom and a stepdad. And depending on the situation – we assume that both mom and dad will want to stay in the children’s lives – they need to know that there may be other people coming into their lives, but there will only be one mom and one dad.

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