Tag Archives: Parent

How Divorce and Death are Alike

divorcing coupleYou thought that when the papers were signed for the divorce everything would be better and you would finally feel relief and calm.  But you don’t.  Somehow the hurt emotions intensify and unexpected emotions of remorse, sadness, and guilt pile on top of bitterness, resentment, and frustration.  This has left you confused, disoriented, and even wondering if you made a mistake.

You begin to relive the marriage all over again looking desperately for answers as to why this happened, what went wrong, and how could things have been dealt with differently.  But you are afraid to confine in friends and relatives because they have supported the divorce and your questioning is unwelcome after they have taken a stance for you.

So you find yourself even more alone than before the divorce wondering if this lonely feeling will ever go away.  And it will, but not today or even tomorrow.  A divorce is more than the end of a marriage; it is the end of dreams, expectations, family, and friendships.  When you divorce, you are leaving behind all dreams and hopes for the future, all expectations for a long life together, extended family on both sides, and friendships that bound you together.

It is not the stuff that is hard to separate; rather it is these things which are far harder to separate.  In this way, experiencing a divorce is like experiencing a death and the process to recovery is very similar.

Denial.  While it may seem odd that you will experience denial after you have divorced, it is likely to occur in strange circumstances.  For instance, you are picking up medication at the pharmacy and the pharmacist asks you if you want to pick up your spouse’s medication.  Or you are at a favorite restaurant and the waitress asks if your spouse is joining you.  Or you are at church and a well-meaning person says they miss seeing your spouse.  In all of these incidents it is tempting not to tell the other person about the divorce and just to pretend that you are still together which you can do but it might provide for a more awkward moment later.  In fact, your first instinct may be to do just that but instead try saying the bare minimum, just enough to get away quickly without over explaining.

Anger.  This reaction is far more familiar as leading up to the divorce you most likely experienced this in spades.  While the name of your ex no longer provokes an immediate angry reaction, you will see some anger pop up in unexpected places.  Perhaps a co-worker displays the same lack of motivation that your ex did, your neighbor laughs like your ex, or your child looks and acts more and more like your ex every day.  You may feel unexpected anger towards your co-worker, neighbor or child that has little to do with them and far more to do with who they remind you of.  Stop, take a breather and recognize where your anger is really coming from so that you don’t project it onto an innocent target.

Depression. No matter how easy it was to divorce, going through the holidays without your ex and the routine and traditions that you developed will be difficult.  Expect to feel even more depressed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day as this is a time of intense celebration, family activities and getting together with friends.  When you are feeling at your most depressed, get out of the house and go do something.  Do not sit at home thinking about how you were at your ex’s family’s house for dinner last year and what a good time you had.  Rather, start new traditions this year that you have always wanted to try such as going to the mountains for Christmas or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving.

Acceptance.  At the end of a long cycle, you will finally reach acceptance where you are comfortable talking about the end of your marriage without extraneous feelings.  Similar to the death of a close family member or a friend, this process will take about a year to finally achieve.  Your children on the other hand will not be on the same schedule as they will look like they have accepted it far sooner but a couple of years later will show signs of anger and depression.  Don’t be surprised by this, but expect it and anticipate getting them help if needed.

No one gets married wanting to go through a divorce.  Divorce is hard, painful and demands time for proper healing.  By having a better understanding of your emotions and viewing divorce in the same light as a death, you will better glide through the stages instead of stumbling in the dark.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

A Letter from a Child to Her Parents during Divorce

Effects-Of-Divorce-On-ChildrenDear Mommy and Daddy,

Yesterday I just stood there as you fought over my baby sister.  Mommy had both her arms and Daddy had both her legs.  I thought my baby sister would break in half but she just cried cause she is only one years old.  I felt so bad that I didn’t stop you from fighting over her, it is all my fault.  Maybe if I was better than you won’t fight so much.

Daddy, you say mean things to me and Mommy.  You say my mommy tells lies about you.  But she is nice to me and takes care of me and my sister.  She listens to me when I cry and tries to make me feel better.  She tells me that you are mean and if you were nice then she would not have to be mean.  Daddy, please be nice to Mommy so she can be nice to you.

Daddy, I have fun when we are together doing stuff.  You take me places I like to go.  But Mommy tells me I don’t have to go with you if I don’t want.  She told me that we can do something special if I don’t go with you.  I like her treats too so I get confused about where to go.

I don’t like to go without my baby sister because she needs me to take care of her.  I am away from her at school and I wish I didn’t have to go to school so I could stay at home and help Mommy out with her.  Mommy gets tired easily and besides only I know how she feels and she needs me.  One day she fell asleep and I tried to wake her up but she won’t get up.  My baby sister was crying so I talked to her until Mommy got up.  It was dark then.

I love my school but you keep fighting over money and how much it costs.  All my friends go there but I don’t want you to fight.  Can I go to a school you won’t fight over?  I don’t care where I go.  I’ll be good wherever you send me.  I promise.

I don’t want to lie.  I learned in school that you shouldn’t tell a lie but Mommy you asked me to lie about Daddy.  You told me to tell my teacher that Daddy hit me.  He did not hit me.  I told her that he did but then she asked me questions and you weren’t there so I didn’t know how to answer them.  Can you come to school with me and tell my teacher what you want me to say to her?  I don’t want to lie to her.  She is nice to me and she looks sad when other kids lie to her.  I don’t want to be like them.

Daddy you scared me when you get angry.  I don’t like your angry voice.  Mommy told me that you hurt people when you get like that.  You have not hurt me but I am afraid that if I am not good enough you will.  I also don’t want my baby sister to get hurt so please stop getting angry.  I will do whatever you want if you just stop yelling.  Please don’t hurt me like Mommy said you would.

It made me sad that you were fighting over my baby sister.  I know that you have not fought over me like that cause I am bad and she is good.  It is ok.  I know that I am bad cause if I were good, you would not have left Daddy.  I tell my baby sister to stay good so that Mommy won’t leave too cause that is what parents do when their kid is bad.

I have an idea.  Since I am bad, break me in half so my baby sister doesn’t have to be broken.  I am afraid that you will break her one day and then I will be sad.  I don’t want to live without her.  Then maybe you will not fight anymore.  This is all I want, for you to stop fighting.  Please stop.

Love,

Your Child

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Lessons Learned from Children: The Value of a Working Mom

supermomSometimes the most meaningful moment as a parent comes in the middle of another conversation, has little to nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent.  Looking back on the moment you wish there had been a bright shining light calling your attention it so you could take it in more slowly and savor every second.  But time marches at the same pace and without reflection, the significance of those moments is often lost and the power to heal old wounds is never realized.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son which by itself is shocking.  As the filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed his age.  This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations and since he loves to talk there is no shortage of either.  This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom” and since he often complains how difficult his life is, I asked for further clarification to which he responded with the following points.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.”  Talk about a shocking statement coming from a fourteen year old boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week and believes the world revolves around him!  He further explained that in speaking with some of his friends whose mother chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet their wants and desires, he now sees his friends have a skewed view that life is all about them (yes, he did say that, I’m not making it up).  If fact, he came home so astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how their friend’s wants and desires impacted the rest of the family.  By setting the standard that life is not about his wants and desires (no matter how hard he fights against this), he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.”  It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said.  My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time.  My son, having experienced this first hand with his mother (me), he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this.  He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well (yes, we are still struggling with his lack of motivation but there are these glimmers of hope).  By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.”  By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management.  He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and from what he learned, he then made this observation.  When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions.  Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk compared to the conversations of adults he overheard who had more time and therefore gossiped more.  By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip on occasion.  However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced and hopefully will make a positive difference in his life.  As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving kids is a blast.  There are so many places to show them, so many things to explore, so many things to do and so little time.  It seems as if your calendar is always full and it probably is with birthday parties, trips to the zoo, new playgrounds, play dates with friends, soccer practices and just going to stores.  At home there are plenty of toys, games, crafts, and most likely an entire room devoted to the kids where they can play for endless hours.  You like all of the activity and encourage your kid to try new things constantly.

You are an Active parent.  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  You are interested in the people in your kid’s world and usually use your kid’s interaction with others as an indication of how well-adjusted they are.  If your child is like-minded, this conversation is easy but if not your child shuts down and can’t seem to figure out why this matters so much to you.

The Good.  Your kids will not be bored.  If anything, they will be exhausted at times and crave some down time to just sit on the sofa and watch TV.  You most likely encourage them to participate in a wide variety of activities and are not easily upset when your child changes their mind to a completely different sport.  After all, you probably did the same thing as a child.  Regardless of your financial status, your child will have many adventurous stories to tell, have a lot of physical activity, and numerous types of friends.

The Bad.  Exhaustion from excessive activities and lack of proper sleep are two of the biggest down sides to active parenting.  There will be times when the excessive activities on your calendar are too much for you and your child to manage so someone is likely to get disappointed or hurt when you can’t deliver on a promise.  Your promises have a long shelf life with your child and as they get older, they will remember and remind you of all broken promises.

The Ugly.  Too much activity does not allow time for recollection, rest, and relaxation so your child may grow up struggling with finding a balance between activity and inactivity.  The numerous friendships that you encouraged your child to have and maintain may also be overwhelming for them causing them to run in the opposite direction away from friendships.  Finally, your lack of following through on promises is an unhealthy model for your child who may also grow up making and breaking promises.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, active parents are fun so be fun and minimize the number of broken promises.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

mother and childIn your head you keep a constant ledger and running total of all the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  You carefully check the ledger daily to ensure that your kids are all getting equal time, attention, and punishment as the thought you might be unfair to one child is extremely painful.  It may sound exhausting, but the alternative of appearing to favor one child over the other is far worse than having to maintain the ledger.

You are a Bookkeeper Parent.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How are you doing?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting especially when accused of being unfair, undiplomatic and disloyal.  If your child is like you, they appreciate your fairness and see such an act as love.

The Good.  Because you pay attention to all of the little signs, the hurt feelings, and body language of your child, you really don’t miss an opportunity to show compassion, love and tenderness.  You are a gentle parent who tries hard to see things from your child’s perspective and given a choice you will side with your child over nearly anyone else including your spouse.  You really do care about your child’s struggles and you go out of your way to be understanding.

The Bad.  Rules are sometimes too flexible as you are more interested in understanding how your child could do such a thing rather than punishing them for violating a rule.  This can cause confusion for your child who quickly learns that by shedding a couple of tears they can win you over and reduce their punishment.  One comment from your child of “you are being unfair” is likely to send you in a tail spin as you examine your ledgers.  This becomes a great distraction from the real issue at hand and your child escapes without punishment.

The Ugly.  Your child will learn how to manipulate you and as an adult will manipulate others by using a person’s sensitivity against them.  They may even become uncaring to the point of ignoring the feelings of others all together because they see feeling driven people as manipulative.  This creates an unhealthy environment for their children who are likely to be more like you and less like their parent.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, bookkeeper parents are fair so be fair and minimize the hurt feelings.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Cautious Parents are Aware

Overprotective-Parents“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This is one of your favorite quotes and your child already knows it by heart.  You are a careful planner in every activity with many detailed lists in order by priority and usually color coded for easy reference.   This is responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior is not having a plan because danger lurks behind every corner and you might be unprepared.   It is important that you set the proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of your emotions so you are very careful about what you say, how you say it and explaining why you do what you do.

You are a Cautious Parent.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.  If your child is like you, they will ask a ton of “why” questions and be thrilled that you take the time to respond.

The Good.  There is reason and logic behind every decision and you are more than willing to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did.  You love to share your knowledge of the world in detail and could go on and on about one topic for hours.  Your child enjoys having their own personal “Encyclopedia” who is very resourceful and can cut research time down to a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, most schools don’t accept “Dad” or “Mom” on the works cited page.

The Bad.  You have a desire to share your wisdom with your child but too much information at the wrong time can do more damage than good.  Over explaining things does not equip your child to reason through things for themselves and frequently your child will be lacking in critical thinking skills as they have learned to just trust your judgment rather than figure it out for themselves.

The Ugly.  As an adult, if your child is still relying on your wisdom to guide their life, they will continue to flounder at nearly every job they do.  Still looking for someone to spell out every detail so they don’t have to think for themselves and risk making a mistake, your child will find comfort in menial employment instead of living up their full potential.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, cautious parents are aware so be aware and minimize the over explaining.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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