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Dealing With Stress at Work during a Divorce

divorce stress

Going through the divorce process can put stress on multiple areas in a man’s life – but you wouldn’t always assume your work life would be affected, too. After all, keeping the personal and the professional separate is what we’ve always been told to do. But if the divorce is one that looks to drag out for a long time, then it’s understandable that stress can bleed over into one’s work life as well. Unfortunately, being mentally preoccupied and emotionally exhausted can have a detrimental effect on your professional tasks. Here are a few ways you can deal with divorce stress while working at the same time.

To Discuss or Not to Discuss

The first thing to determine is whether or not you wish to tell your colleagues or your boss about your divorce. The idea behind this is not to use it as an excuse to wave off any strange behavior or lack of focus, but rather to seek understanding and flexibility as you go through the process. Many managers and coworkers can be supportive and sympathetic, and some workplaces even offer free counseling services.

Depending on your comfort level and need for privacy, you might not want to mention it to anyone in your workplace, and that’s acceptable as well.  You can’t assume that anything you say to anyone at work will remain a secret – keep in mind that anything you say to a coworker will likely be shared with others. If it’s looking like the courts may be involved with your divorce, you may want to consider keeping information to yourself, lest it be used against you in legal filings.

Keep Things Stable

Another good practice is to maintain stability in your working life. With so much upheaval happening when you’re off the clock, you’re going to want to have a place of normalcy and routine that you can come to, in order to take your mind off the divorce. Also, the feeling of productivity and accomplishment can help if you’re feeling down on yourself in the wake of the separation.

You might not initially consider how your divorce might affect your attention span at work, but it can cause a lack of focus, which can potentially have a long-term impact. Instead, know when to step away and give yourself a moment of composure in order to refocus on the task at hand. Having a regular routine to follow in the workplace — or simply setting an agenda every day and sticking to it — can help as well.

Give Yourself Time

It’s not healthy to simply bottle up all your emotions surrounding your divorce and move on as if nothing is happening; rather, you need to allow yourself to go through the entire spectrum of feelings you might be having about the end of your marriage.

So, although it’s smart to focus on your job, you don’t need to put yourself in a place of denial as soon as you step into the workplace. Instead, allow yourself to take a mental break whenever you need one. As mentioned earlier, see if your workplace offers free counseling, or if you have the option to work from home or take a “health day.” Know that what you’re going through isn’t unusual, and that you shouldn’t feel ashamed to be upset about your divorce, even if you’re at work. If the stress becomes unbearable to the point where it’s interfering with your job, that’s when you ought to step back and look for your support options. Battling divorce stress might be a struggle, but it can be beaten, and you don’t have to go it alone if you don’t want to.

Have you ever dealt with personal stress interfering with your work? What were some of your coping methods? Let us know in the comments.

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Post-Divorce: How Long to Wait Until You Date

Navigating the waters following a divorce can be challenging. Not only are you more emotionally vulnerable, but those who were close to the relationship are also likely feeling the effects of what happened.

dating

There comes a point when you may ask yourself the question: am I ready to date again?There is no right answer to this question, and the time period following a divorce will be different for everyone. Still, there is a certain period that should be respected in the days and months following the end of a relationship. This is for a number of reasons, not the least of which is ensuring you, your former spouse, and your family members have the time and space to accept the aftermath of the divorce.

The Two Year Rule

Experts and divorcees agree that two years seems to be the magic number when it comes to the amount of time needed post break-up. Going through a divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience, and one that can cause people to re-examine key elements of their life. Mix that self-reflection with what experts say is often a period of depression, anxiousness, and an inability to focus, and you have a time that is best left for personal self-development and discovery.

Taking time is valuable, and starting a relationship when youre not ready could postpone the grieving and emotional soul searching you should have done in the days following a divorce. Be clear with any matchmaking friends that you want to take some time to think. Accept that it may take a while before you feel like yourself again, and recognize that is okay.

No Ill Will towards Your Ex

Its inevitable to think about your former spouse in the period following your divorce. Whether these are thoughts of anger, regret, longing, or sadness, theyre all emotions that make you remember and perceive that person in one way or another. If youre still fuming at your ex, youre probably not ready to move on. If youre still missing your ex, youre probably not ready to move on. It is important to work through the complex emotions you associate with your former spouse. If you begin to date too soon, you may carry old resentments or habits into your new relationship. That wont do you or your new partner any favors.

Feeling neutral about your former spouse does not mean you have to accept them back into your life. It does, however, mean you should be at a state where you could see them in public and feel relatively unaffected by the encounter. You should also be able to interact with a prospective partner without thinking constantly of your former partner.

Figure Out What You Want

Marriages end for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you and your spouse werent providing one another with what the other person wanted and needed. Before you move on and start dating, figure out what exactly it is youre looking for. Perhaps you want someone patient and insightful who will support you as you start a new career. Or maybe you want a person who is adventurous and shares your love of the outdoors. These characteristics and qualities can have some similarities with your former partner, but make an effort to identify what made you unhappy with your last relationship and adjust your expectations and desires accordingly.

Ultimately, you will be the only one who can tell if youre ready to date again. Recognize your post-divorce period for what it is: an opportunity to take time for yourself to reflect on that former relationship and what you want for the next one.

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What to Do When Your Kids Dislike a New Partner

new partner

There’s a long adjustment period after a divorce, especially if there are children involved. Though you may feel like you’re ready to start dating, not everyone may be on the same page. When your children meet your new love, they might not like each other as much as you had hoped. To prevent this from happening, it helps to think about what your children are experiencing and to approach this major life change carefully.

Why Your Children Might Have Trouble

If your children seem to have trouble accepting a new relationship, keep in mind their feelings may have little to nothing to do with the specific partner. After a divorce or breakup, children face a major shift in their daily lives. Even if the split is beneficial, children still need time to adjust and grieve the loss of what they had before. The children miss having both parents around, and adding a new person adds another level of change into their world. Children can also feel concerned about loyalty between parents and new partners, which adds to discomfort and difficulties, and children can see you finding a new partner as a sure sign you won’t be getting back together with your ex. This realization can bring up the same feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger they had when the split was fresh.

Easing the Relationships

One of the most important things to remember is to avoid forcing relationships too quickly. By introducing your new partner too soon, you run the risk of giving your children a new family configuration to cope with before they have accepted the current situation. Introducing your partner too soon can also create a risk of your children attaching to the new person, which can create more issues in the event of a breakup.

Before introducing your new partner to your children, talk about the partner and describe them to your children. If your children have some idea of who this person is, they’ll feel more prepared for this life change. It’s also a good idea to make sure the relationship between you and the new partner is strong. Waiting to introduce them also allows you time to get to know the partner through different situations before you make any commitments.

When your children and partner are getting to know one another, be sure to keep the process light and casual. Introducing each other at a group barbeque can be a more relaxed environment than a weekend camping trip. Consider attending events at a neutral location, such as a park, instead of at either partner’s home. If your partner also has children, they need to be introduced to your children in another gradual process instead of overwhelming your children with new people.

Be sure to talk with your children about how they feel about new developments. This is a major event, so you will need a few conversations to really process how you and your children can make a happy household. Be careful of interrupting your children or dismissing their feelings —using active listening shows your children that you care about their needs and will help them feel less threatened by a new person in your life. Depending on your children’s ages, they might be more likely to open up during a walk or another activity. Some children might have a hard time opening up, but can show feelings by acting out, withdrawing, slipping in grades, and regressing to past behaviors such as thumb-sucking. Be sure to check in with them to make sure they can identify feelings and that they feel safe when experiencing these feelings. You can also support your children by making sure they still have one-on-one time with you.

As you readjust, don’t be afraid to seek help from others. As you work with your ex to raise your children, make sure you both work to maintain a consistent structure and set of rules between homes. You might also benefit from gaining help and guidance from family and friends. Support systems, from friends to formal support groups, can benefit you and your children as they readjust to new family structures.

Key Ideas to Remember

The main idea to remember is to keep your children’s needs in mind as you find a new partner in your life. You are also a role model for your children as to how they should handle relationships, so kindness and calmness are beneficial for everyone involved. Taking your time to introduce your partner and your children will keep all relationships stronger. Finally, keeping your approach centered on your children’s needs will help them feel cared for, safe, and loved.

Have you ever had to introduce children to a new partner? What if you were the new partner? Are there things you wish you could have done differently?

 

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Dating after Divorce: The Top 3 Life-Limiting Misconceptions

dating after divorce

No matter how many times divorcees swear they’ll never re-marry, the draw to find a life partner often proves irresistible.

Look at poor Mogli from The Jungle Book. He’s having a great old time out there with Baloo the Bear, but responsible Bagiera leads him toward the Man Village where a lovely girl gathering water turns his eyes into rainbow-colored, pulsating saucers. Psychologists attribute The Jungle Book’s popularity and timelessness to a universal human truth: most singles long for a mate.

It’s understandable to be nervous about looking for a new partner after a divorce, but chances are, you’re ready. If you’ve done some reading and even some therapy to gain self-awareness, by all means start dating up a storm!  

Whether you decide the time is right for you to date again or not, at least know that many misconceptions about dating after divorce can keep divorced fathers on the sidelines for too long. Let the carefully researched information here sink in, but definitely keep exploring and weighing your options.

Dating After Divorce Misconception #1: “Getting Back Out There” Is Torture

This isn’t so much of a misconception as a hurdle. Most admit that meeting a complete stranger for the serious task of finding a life-partner search starts up the jitters more than public speaking. A big part of the nerve attack stems from feeling completely out of practice and that you’re the only dork in the whole wide world doing it. We have two balms for these anxieties: freshen up your dating etiquette, but more important, immerse yourself in others’ dating after divorce experiences. Getting your bearings with what’s going on with the blind, online dating scene helps you know what to expect. More, laughing at others’ humiliations takes some of the sting out of your self-consciousness.

Start by reading up on what typically happens on a first date on Huffington Post’s Dating Section. There, all secrets are bared including, “My Tinder Adventures at 60,” and “OMG! I’m Dating My Dad!” The dozens of other dating publications include, High50 (for those 50 and over), Evan Marc Katz and Kiss and Blog. Even the New York Times has a Modern Love section which covers dating, although it’s tucked in the Style section.

Consider each post not only comic relief, but inoculation against your terror. The more varieties of experiences you read about, the more prepared you are to tackle the unknown. Also, these posts reveal how human and mistake-prone every dater is. As in any truly meaningful venture, doing initial research, having some mentors and understanding that you’re not alone sets you up for success!

Dating After Divorce Misconception #2: No Good Ones Left  

Holding onto perceptions like, “there are no good ones left,” and/or “all the good ones are taken” provide the perfect hall pass for avoiding dating. Well, maybe you need to avoid dating right now and these opinions help you stick to your convictions. That’s fine! Hold them as close as you want for as long as you want. Taking 10 years or even the rest of your life away from dating is perfectly acceptable, even commendable in some situations.

If you want to know the facts about who’s left, however, read on.

The average, single American out there isn’t so bad. According to a US Census report created in 2015 from data gathered from 2008 to 2012, around 15 million divorced, currently single, 40- to 57-year-olds live in America. Also, 30 million single Americans who never married are still out there. The stories, life experiences and personalities of these 45 million are as varied as their bathroom cabinets.

Dating Misconception #3:  Finding Love “Organically” Leads to Better Love than Can be Found Through Deliberate Online Dating and Activity Attendance

How many of your single friends will tell you that they’re not on the online dating sites or going to activities or MeetUp groups because they’re just waiting for “true love” to find them “organically?”

Could online dating options and singles activities be the solution you need? Every one of us knows at least a few who used online dating to find their second long term relationship, even marriage. A study from the National Academy of Scientists found that one in three marriages developed just from online dating. You won’t be finding your next life-partner staying home every night hugging your television. Finding a suitable mate “organically” or by chance is as likely as finding a suitable job just by chance. We think you should go out and intentionally get both. Deliberate effort or “intention” creates destiny more than waiting and hoping.

The National Academy of Scientists researchers also found that those in marriages that began with an online dating site reported significantly higher satisfaction rates than those who met in bars or through friends. Skeptical? They surveyed 19,131 people, about ten times more people than most scientific studies ever attempt.

Father’s Rights Law Center has tackled everything from the amicable split to child custody to domestic violence and sexual abuse allegations. Read our past blog posts and testimonials about our work  to witness our dedication to helping fathers through every aspect of child custody and divorce. Our complimentary consultation can clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today.

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Introducing Kids to Your New Partner: Guidelines to Consider

Psychologists peg divorce as one of the worst experiences humans endure, but those in the middle of a split cling to one potential future reward: the prospect of finding someone who will make them happy. Hope acts as a balm, soothing the pain of the breakup. The much improved, new relationship can appear golden from afar. While many do find love, it doesn’t happen magically. Creating relationships takes intention, education and effort. It all starts with new love.

new partner

Most parents have heard the rumors about how delicate introducing a new partner to children can be. Use the guidelines below to ensure that introducing children to a partner becomes a positive experience that puts the new relationship on the right track from the beginning.

Choose the Right Time

When a viable, new romantic interest does come into the divorced person’s life, the excitement is palpable, and hard to hide from children and other family members.

Soon enough, children ask where a parent is going and with whom. The parent immediately has a dilemma. Introducing a new partner at the beginning stages of a relationship can reveal how well he or she fits with the family. On the other hand, many divorced parents and child psychologists warn that six months is the minimum to wait. No one wants to have a revolving door of partners.

There is no right time to make the introduction. If children are teenagers and the divorce occurred five years or more before, doing the introduction early can make more sense. The parent needs to gauge how the new partner will fit with the children before too much time goes by. More, teens tend to be absorbed in their own lives, putting more energy and time into relationships with friends than parents. They are looking toward their own future romantic relationships and jobs. Introducing the new partner in this situation should go relatively smoothly, given you follow the other guidelines in this post.

While the above may seem like good news, many parents split before their children are out of middle school. Children aged fourteen and younger still depend significantly on parents for building their identities and understanding the world around them. Read our post about parental alienation to get a better idea of how much children need from their fathers (hint: a great deal). The time they require cannot be short-changed. Therefore, dating with children in this age bracket is best conducted when the children visit their mother. This approach makes the most sense particularly for fathers with less than 50% custody. Experts emphasize that parents of younger children should wait at least six months to one year and have a clear idea of a stable future with the new partner before considering a meeting.

No matter the age of the children, the newly divorced must take extra precautions with their dating lives. Post-split, children and teens both have significant emotional, psychological and intellectual work to carry out to come to terms with the idea that the former family no longer exists. They must grasp the idea of their father as a single person. Do not introduce children to a new partner until it’s clear everyone is emotionally stable and you’re functioning smoothly in the new family structure.

Introducing a partner to children too early could result in:

  • The children viewing the new partner suspiciously.

  • Children’s jealousy of the new partner leading to acting out.

  • Chaos in the household.

  • Poor connection between new partner and children leading to serious psychological and emotional damage to the children.

  • Conflict with ex-spouse, which reverberates to the children.

Despite your excitement over your new relationship, remember that the long-term well-being of your children depends greatly on the choices you make during their formative years.  

The Introduction Step by Step

Once you’re confident it’s the right time to introduce your new partner to your children, following these guidelines should help the event go smoothly.

  1. The Preparation:  hopefully, you’ve been sharing stories about your adventures with your significant other with your children and even asking their opinion. Preparing them in this manner can go a long way in building curiosity and anticipation, two positive emotions surrounding the individual. Make clear to your children and your partner that you expect them all to treat each other respectfully. Give examples of what could happen and how each could respond.

  1. The Meeting:  a low-key, active event that you all enjoy together can be more comfortable than a sit-down dinner where individuals get grilled as much as the steak and veggies. Consider a hike, a concert, fishing, or an afternoon at the beach or a lake. Come up with three alternatives beforehand and share them with the children, asking for input. Consider a short time span: a morning or an afternoon. Also, keep the expense reasonable. During the event, keep public displays of affection to a minimum. Gradually accustom your children to that aspect of the relationship rather than make it too obvious.

  1. After the Event:  with your new partner safely on her way home, sit down with the kids to debrief. Ask them their impressions first using open-ended questions. “What did you think?” works. Listen carefully and even mirror back what they’re saying. “So you didn’t like the way she insisted on paying?” Feel free to laugh together about any awkward moments. Do not try to talk them into liking her. Reassure them that you will have plenty of time alone with them, even though you are now in a relationship.

 

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The Science of Fatherhood

Parents in general play a major role in a child’s development, but recent studies and reviews show that a father’s participation has a major impact on a child’s behavior; specifically their self-esteem and overall psychological adjustment within society.

fatherhood

Despite decades of assumptions to the contrary, a father’s role can be incredibly influential in their child’s development.  In fact, a review of 24 of the best studies of father involvement performed by

Researchers at Uppsala University presented some very persuasive findings. They found that there were a multitude of social and psychological benefits resulting from a father’s engagement with his children. Those children who had fathers that played with them, read to them, and interacted frequently with them had fewer behavioral problems in their early education along with less delinquency and criminal behavior as adolescents. In addition, among the prematurely born, children whose fathers cared for them had higher IQs.

Studies also show that fathers may play a significant role in their children’s ability to persevere. According to a study performed at Brigham Young University, researchers found that fathers who exhibit above-average levels of authoritative parenting tend to rear children that are much more likely to be persistent. This manner of authoritative parenting is characterized by a warm, loving demeanor with strict adherence to the rules backed by appropriate support and freedom. As a result, the child’s increase in persistence leads to better school engagement and less delinquency.

There have been a great many studies conducted that focus on the benefit of a father’s involvement in the rearing of their children, resulting in a large amount of literature on the subject. In a compilation of research evidence on the effects of father involvement, researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario found the following supporting evidence for children of involved fathers:

  • They are higher academic achievers.

  • They are more competent problem solvers.

  • They are more adaptive and resourceful.

  • They are more playful and skillful.

  • They have a higher level of self-acceptance in addition to personal and social adjustment.

  • They are more attentive when presented a problem.

  • They are likely to score higher on standardized tests.

  • They are more likely to enjoy and engage in school and extracurricular activities.

  • They are more likely to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement.

  • They experience higher levels of life satisfaction.

  • They are more stress and crisis tolerant, and exhibit better self-control.

  • As young adults they are more likely to exhibit higher self-acceptance.

  • They have more positive peer relations and greater popularity.

  • They are more likely to have positive interactions with their siblings.

  • They are more likely to exhibit tolerant and empathetic behavior.

  • They are more likely to be morally mature.

In contrast, children without engaged and invested fathers experience fewer of these benefits, leading to more antisocial and delinquent behavior, less empathy, lower life satisfaction, decreased perseverance, lower academic achievement, and a greater chance of depression and substance abuse, to name a few.  

Enough data has been gathered to make the compelling argument that society and the government at large should begin to place an increased emphasis on the positive impact that a father’s presence has in the successful rearing of a child. It is clearly evident that father engagement has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development as well as their social and emotional well-being.

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The Best Books about Being a Dad

Being a parent is perhaps one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges a person will ever face. After all, as a parent you become responsible for the safety, development, and happiness of another person. So where can you turn when you need some extra guidance? Parenting books could be the answer.

dad books

More fathers than ever have begun to write books about the parental journey, opening up a new range of insight for dads looking for guidance. Whether you’re searching for a book written to help you make the transition from man to father, or looking for a piece that will help you to better understand your role and your children’s behaviors, the following list should help.

Books for New Dads

Becoming a father means accepting a new role in your life that you may feel completely unprepared for – even if you’re the world’s most excited father-to-be.

1. The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-be (Armin A. Brott and Jenifer Ash)

Written for the modern father, this guide to everything “Dad” provides a wealth of information designed to prepare you for pregnancy, caring for a baby, and managing those first crucial years of parenthood. It even offers a number of tips for men considering life as a stay-at-home dad. Similar to any “what-to-expect” set of tips, the book includes a number of ways in which fathers can support their partners during parenthood. However, it also helps father’s discover their own role in a strange new world.

2. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden)

Supplementing your education on the route to becoming a father doesn’t have to be all work and no play. There are plenty of fatherhood books out there that approach the issue from a more humorous angle. For instance “Be Prepared” covers everything from how to make your baby laugh, to how to choose a new stroller. Packed with charming illustrations, this step-by-step guide also teaches dads how to baby proof the house, and change an emergency diaper at a sports game.

Books for Dads with Toddlers

Once the baby years are over, dads may need help on dealing with a whole new range of behaviors and concepts. During the toddler years, children are much more mobile, and they’re capable of causing more trouble. At the same time, they’re learning to speak, bond, and discover more about the world around them.

1. Dads, Toddlers, and the Chicken Dance (Peter Downey)

A helpful and humorous book designed to describe the realities of raising a toddler, Downey’s book is an informative, and refreshingly hilarious option for fathers who want the tips, without the serious edge. This book offers everything from information about speech development, to common illnesses, nutrition, and toilet-training. However, it may not appeal to the more sensitive readers out there.

2. Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler: A Zen Guide for New Dads (C.W. Nevius)

A book all about helping fathers discover the patience required to raise an excitable toddler, Crouching Father offers an array of short essays that cover common worries from a humorous angle, such as “What is the sound of one child napping”.

Books for Dads with School-Age Children

The elementary age, pre-teen, and teenage years provide a new selection of worries and anxieties to deal with. Not only are fathers responsible for teaching kids necessary skills and, keeping them away from bad habits, but they also have the task of instilling them with important values.

1. But I’m Almost 13! : Raising a Responsible Adolescent (Kenneth R. Ginsburg and Martha M. Jablow)

Don’t be fooled by the light-hearted title, this book is full of tips and tricks to help keep your growing child away from the risks of youth, from emotional problems like depression and anxiety, to reckless behavior like drug use and the results peer pressure. It provides advice on nourishing your child’s independence, while making them aware of the problems and consequences they could face.

2. Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: Loving Your Kid without Losing Your Mind (Michael J. Bradley)

Written by a psychologist drawing on research into the teenage brain, this book argues that the average teenager is basically insane, showing plenty of dysfunctional, unstable, and unpredictable behavior. Fortunately, the book also delivers plenty of information on how to encourage and guide your children through these difficult years as a father, and a friend.

Books for Dads with Kids Who’ve Left the Nest

It’s not just mothers that suffer from empty nest syndrome – but fathers too. The following books help dads overcome the emotional issues that can set in after a child vacates the family household.

1. The Empty Nest: How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child (Celia Dodd)

Written from an optimistic and realistic point of view, this book covers all of the issues a father might experience when living in a child-free home. It reminds readers that children continue to need their parents after they leave the nest, just as parents continue to need the love of their children.

2. Fun without Dick and Jane (Christie Mellor)

Dedicated to parents with a sense of humor, this light-hearted book offers creative insight into how to rediscover yourself as an individual after your children leave home. It could be the perfect solution for the father whose identity has become all about his kids.

What are some of your favorite books about being a dad? Share with us in the comments!

 

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When Your Child is a Picky Eater

Many single parents struggle with children that are picky eaters. This can happen to many kids, even those who started out with an adventurous outlook toward food. It’s a good idea to think about various strategies and mindsets to avoid dinner time becoming a battle for both parent and child.

picky eater

Children can become picky eaters young; usually between the ages of 2 and 6. According to research, this sometimes has less to do with the actual food and more to do with their budding sense of independence. As children learn and grow, they want to be able to be their own people. This can be a struggle for some parents, as they may be worried their children are not getting the nutrition they should have. During these mealtime struggles, it is important to remember that as the parent, your goal is to encourage healthy eating habits for a lifetime instead of just at one dinner. This means that it is better to avoid punishment or arguments that can that can cause a child to associate mealtime with stress, anxiety, and power struggles.

Encouraging Healthy Attitudes Towards Food

To encourage healthy attitudes toward food, there are a number of ideas to remember as you help your child develop. Since independence can be a large factor in food preferences, involving children in food preparation (within safe limits, of course) can make them feel as if they are choosing the meal instead of the choice being made for them. When you are grocery shopping, you can try taking your children around the produce section to find fruits and vegetables they think are interesting. Having meals with a “serve yourself” component, such as toppings for tacos, can also create a great sense of self-sufficiency.

Introducing New Foods

Keep in mind it can take multiple tries for a child to fully accept a new food—in some cases, a dozen or more tries is normal. This process can feel frustrating, but sticking with it can give you surprising results. Some people recommend a rule of trying at least two or three bites of a food. This has helped a lot of people, but pushing for more than a few bites can lead to pressuring and arguments. Pairing a new food with food your child likes also helps to make the new food seem less strange and more likeable.

When you are introducing a food to your child, consider presenting it in different ways. Sometimes, children respond to new stimuli and interesting displays. For example, roasted vegetables can be sweeter than raw vegetables, while raw foods can be more colorful than boiled foods. Adding certain seasonings and dressings can make the food more interesting to your child. Additionally, some children may react more to texture or temperature more than others, which can change how they feel about certain foods. Consider asking your child about how he or she experiences food — instead of just asking about taste, ask about smell or how food looks.

Setting the Mood

It’s also a good idea to make the experience of eating fun and enjoyable. Turning off distractions, such as televisions and toys, helps to create a calming environment. Getting creative with presentation, such as cutting food into shapes or naming it after the child can make the food more appealing. Spending mealtime talking about fun events also creates an enjoyable mood.  Consider using enthusiasm to introduce new foods

It’s also a good idea to remember that time may be an influence on how meals feel. Depending on the child’s age, sitting for ten or fifteen minutes can be difficult. Eating too late can make children cranky and less open to trying new things. Having a routine with food throughout the day, in terms of times and amount of food, can help meals seem less chaotic.

You might also benefit from considering your own approach to food in trying to get your children to eat. Trying to bribe children with treats if they eat certain foods sends a message that there is more to foods than nourishment, setting the stage for unhealthy eating later. If your children see you eating a food, they’ll probably want to try it as well. It is also important to remember that children do not need as much food as adults do, so a child who is not eating may not be hungry at all.

Many families find mealtimes a struggle. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Considering your children’s feelings and needs can go a long way toward a happier time for everyone during meals while teaching your children habits that will last a lifetime.

Have you dealt with a picky eater, or been one yourself? How have you addressed eating woes?

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How to Create Happy Holidays for your Kids Despite the Divorce

Celebrating the holidays can be tricky for families going through a divorce. Some parents try to overcompensate with elaborate gifts and big parties. Others try to keep everything as normal seeming as possible, as if nothing has changed. Therapists tell us both strategies can miss the mark. Use these tips to keep the holidays as happy as possible for children, even when you’re divorcing.

holidays with kids

1. Be Aware of Limited Emotional Energy

If this is the first holiday after the divorce, know that the inescapable emotional turmoil will deplete your energy. You may not be able to take your children to the same amount of holiday events or put on the huge feast you did in prior years. Give yourself permission to have a mellower, limited Christmas this year. Most likely, you’ve attended or even put on large celebrations in previous years and at least “put in an appearance” at various parties. You WILL be part of these again. A small, low-key Christmas can be precious in its own way. Share these thoughts about doing less with children, demonstrating that while circumstances are different, they are still good.

2. Do Not Overcompensate by Over-Spending

The best present you can give to your child is an unstressed, present, involved parent; not a hoverboard or mini-drone. Over-spending quickly leads to anxiety, which can lead to overwork, and bad mood. As Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) once said, “If you want to raise great kids, double the time you spend with them and cut the material stuff in half.”

Experiences do more for children long term than material goods. Cornell researcher Dr. Thomas Gilovich explains that, “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.” Further, our satisfaction with purchased items goes down where satisfaction with experiences rises, according to Dr. Gilovich.

Creating unique experiences with your children doesn’t have to cost a lot. The Center for a New American Dream is a non-profit organization that advocates the creation of a new American ethic, one that emphasizes relationships, community and sustainability over material pursuits, ever-larger homes and fancier cars. It has created a free download called Simplify the Holidays. Rather than taking away the fun of the holidays, it encourages families to create non-materialistic themes for their celebrations, possibly a celebration of nature, a search for new family activities or a creation of new rituals. These strategies don’t overwhelm family time or credit cards. In 17 pages it provides suggestions for handmade gift parties, low waste wrapping, simple gifts for grandparents, changing gift-giving traditions and ideas for connecting with children.

3. Solidify Holiday Plans Early

Work cooperatively with your ex-spouse to determine where the children will be on important dates like the first day of Hannukah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. This strategy supports every divorced parent’s goal of providing stability in the home and well as routines the children can rely on. Younger children shouldn’t be relied on to help with plans or carry planning messages between parents. Consider allowing adolescents to chime in on plans, but keep final decisions with adults. All minors need to know parents are ultimately in charge. Younger children separated from one parent on the holidays will appreciate positive phone calls, stories recorded by the other parent, Skype sessions and gifts from the other parent.

4. Consider Some Old and Some New Traditions

Keeping old traditions you shared during your marriage provides reassuring consistency. It also indicates that the previous family structure had many positives. Both messages improve self-esteem and familiarity during the season.

This said, it can be fun to introduce new traditions as well. The Simplify the Holidays booklet from the Center for a New American Dream mentioned above lists several.

5. Prepare for Sadness

Both you and your children may experience some sadness over the holiday. Know that experiencing a rush of feelings for a few minutes or some tears at the table doesn’t ruin the entire holiday. This could be a transitional holiday where you are letting some things go. No matter the circumstances, the change in family structure most likely amounts to a loss on some level both for children and adolescents. If a child expresses some emotion, validate their feelings, even if you don’t agree, by saying, “I see you’re feeling angry” or “you’re really sad right now.”  Even, “you’re really mad at me right now; aren’t you?” If the child needs to collect themselves in another room, resist feeling insulted or embarrassed in front of any guests. Most should understand.

Divorce During the Holidays

Ultimately, divorcing parents have a responsibility to model stability, positivity and maturity during a divorce. The holidays can have tough moments for adults and children alike, but they’re also an opportunity to connect with children and build new traditions.  

Read our past blog posts and testimonials about our work  to witness our dedication to helping fathers through every aspect of child custody and divorce. Our complimentary consultation can clear up your most pressing questions and concerns. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today.

 

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The Impact of Parental Alienation

While divorce itself is devastating, the manner in which parents behave afterwards can have more intense, long-term impact upon children than the split. When one parent criticizes the other and keeps the child away from the other parent, he or she is said to be “alienating” that child’s affections from that parent.

parental alienation

For the sake of your children’s long-term emotional health and relationships, do not sit quietly while your ex degrades your relationship with your children. Multiple research studies  of parental alienation indicate that upon becoming adults, children who’ve not had the benefit of both parents in their lives suffer greatly. Every child has an innate desire to love and be loved by two parents. They should be entitled to this opportunity. In addition to the lack of presence of one parent, children, no matter how much they seem to side with the targeting parent, suffer emotional distress upon hearing criticisms.

Consequences of Parental Alienation

Adult children who eventually recognize they’ve been the victim of one parent’s indoctrination wind up suffering severely. Researchers have documented that these adult children suffer far higher and more intense incidences of:

  • low self-esteem

  • lack of trust

  • unstable relationships

  • substance abuse

  • depression

  • inability to give and accept love from any parent or partner

  • severe guilt stemming from what they perceive as their betrayal of the alienated parent

  • becoming alienated from their own children

Today, researchers view these often life-long effects as severe. Indeed, the lack of self-awareness and the emotional issues at work that allow one parent to cause this level of damage indicate that the parent is narcissistic enough to engage in additional physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Do not regard parental alienation as a sad but expected consequence of divorce. You must fight it.

Fighting Parental Alienation in the Courts

The courts consider some parents that engage in this behavior as “Hostile, Aggressive Parent” or “targeting parent” and those that are the target are the “targeted parent” as well as a victim of “parental alienation.”

The good news is that the courts have seen these behaviors for decades and do not allow perpetrators to use with them to win custody, alimony, child support, or the affections of the children. When the targeted parent brings this up in the court, judges recognize behaviors and insist on testing.

The “hostile aggressive parent,” known to the courts as the HAP, tends to:

  • Constantly demean and disparage the targeted parent

  • Blames him/her for diminished financial circumstances

  • Coaches the children with statements to make to court officials and child protective services

  • Refuses to provide medical or school records to the targeted parent

  • Insists on rigid visitation rules when targeted parent has a special event that falls outside the days stipulated

  • Implies that having fun at targeted parent’s home is a betrayal

  • Gives permission to refrain from visiting the targeted parent despite court mandated visitations

 

Children involved in a situation where parental alienation is going on often:

  • Provide details of the divorce in verbiage beyond their years

  • Demonstrate a sudden resistance to spending time with the “targeted” or alienated parent

  • Become incredibly rude to the targeted parent

  • Act either frightened of, angry at or cold to the targeted parent

  • Resist visiting targeted parent during scheduled times

Father’s Rights Law Center Arms You to Fight Parental Alienation

The experienced attorneys at the Fathers’ Rights Law Center have seen hundreds of cases of parental alienation. When we present them to the courts, we make sure to have rigorous documentation. Our testimonials from clients who’ve won these cases reveal how hard we fight to ensure the long-term well-being of children. Our complimentary consultation can help you find clarity on whether your ex may be actively alienating your children’s affections from you. Call us at 1-800-4-LAW-HELP to speak with a dedicated attorney today!

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