Kids' Turn San Diego Honors our First Responder Heroes!

September 11th marks a moment in American History where First Responders fought bravely to protect our nation. Firefighters, Policemen, Emergency Medical Technicians and others worked day and night to support our community while sacrificing their own safety.

They are fearless.

They are selfless.

And many are parents.

At Kids’ Turn San Diego, we appreciate and respect the work that First Responders do and understand that this may come with the cost of stress on their own families. We recognize that their sacrifices in the line of duty can, at times, affect their relationships with their spouses, co-parents and children.

KTSD is excited to announce the launch of a new program to support First Responders and their families.

Our new program will protect and support First Responder families by teaching strategies that can reduce conflict, increase communication and improve parent-child, parenting and co-parenting relationships. KTSD recognizes…

The Reality: Schedules of First Responder families can be challenging. Between long shifts and family obligations, there can be moments of feeling overwhelmed, burnt out and stressed out.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Imagine: Instead of feeling these ways, you have a family where you compromise, communicate and feel confident about being a parent.

The Reality: Communication can be difficult for all families and can cause moments of friction where feelings can be hurt. Many First Responder families escape these conversations because they are oftentimes pulled away from family time without much notice.                                                                Imagine: Instead of feeling left out or like an outsider in your own family, your family has communication systems and rules in place that facilitate the sharing of feelings and are inclusive of all family members, whether they are present or not.

The Reality: Life is busy, and it can be demanding to balance and prioritize work and family commitments. As a First Responder family, sometimes parents run around anxious or frantic from life threatening situations to attending after school activities like ballet or little league.                                        Imagine: Instead of feeling unbalanced from your career and home obligations, your family can create back up plans that foster communication and collaboration.

Kids Turn San Diego is committed to support our First Responders and our community by taking care of what matters most, Their Family!

PS. If you are a member of a First Responder Family, we invite you to be part of our first class and to help us name our program and fine tune it. If you would like to join or find out more information, please contact .

Could this happen? Yes it can!

A twelve-year-old is invited into the mediation process. One parent is in the lobby and the other parent is not present.  The mediator gives the pre-teen the space to share their living preferences by asking a simple question, “Where do you prefer to live?”

The pre-teen responds, “I want to live with my mom.”

Custody is set for the pre-teen to reside with the mother during the school week Monday – Saturday morning and to live with father on the weekends beginning Saturday mornings through Sundays 8pm. Holidays and summer vacations are set. 

Fast forward, the pre-teen is now 14. Life happens and this family finds themselves back in the mediation process with a focus on change of custody, initiated by the teen and the father. 

The teen is scheduled to be interviewed by the mediator and is nervous because they lied to the mediator in the past to please mom. 

Could this happen? Is it possible that the teen could be worried that they would not be seen as credible in the eyes of the judge? Is it possible for the teen to have a new understanding of their family dynamics and that they have gained insight into their parents’ behaviors? 

YES! It is possible and it happens! 

In divorced families, children often feel caught in the middle of a loyalty battle between their parents and feel like they have to please one parent over the other, even if they don’t agree with what the parent wants them to do. Sometimes children worry about one parent more than the other and do or say things so the parent is happy.  

As parents, it is important to not put your emotional well-being in the hands of your children. It is not their responsibility to help you feel happy. In divorced families, children adjust as well as their parents adjust. So if you are a hot mess and you excessively (more than 3-4 times when they are leaving your home) tell your children how much you are going to miss them and how you cannot wait till they get home, you are setting your children up to worry about you and to say and do things to help you feel happy. 

How might this look in your family? Maybe your child loves to go to Padres games with one parent and there is a school trip to see the Padres play. Children are encouraged to ask their parents to volunteer as chaperones. As much as your child may want to ask their other parent and to have the other parent volunteer, if they know you will be devastated for not being asked, they will ask you. Of course they will have fun with you as their chaperone, so why is this a big deal? It’s a big deal because your child is making decisions for themselves while ensuring they are taking care of you. Look ahead, if you are unconsciously asking your children to take care of you in this way, you are teaching them that people must be responsible for ensuring others feel okay and that they must put others ahead of themselves. Children like this may grow up to be passive adults who get walked on and taken advantage of. 

Parenting and co-parenting is a journey. This said, if you walk the path of thinking about how your words, actions and behaviors may impact your child now and in their future, the path will be easier to walk. Choose kindness and compassion and forget about creating games of loyalty for your children. You are their teachers and they love both their parents. Walk the path of kindness and compassion together.

Creating Positive Summer Vacation Memories

For the first time since the pandemic, I went on vacation. Not a long weekend but a real vacation. I traveled through four airports and got to observe lots of people. As the Executive Director of Kids’ Turn San Diego, I guess it’s not odd that I noticed every parent and child traveling together. Some kids appeared happy while others appeared lonely. From my observations, the biggest difference was the parent. With the happy looking children, the parents were engaged with them. They were having conversations, in the gift shop exploring together, or looking at each other’s phones. One dad was traveling with four children! One child looked about 10, one looked about 6 and there were twins that appeared to be about 8. One of the twins spent a good five minutes whining and when they were done, the dad gave a choice, waited for the answer and then everyone moved on. He ignored the whining and focused on the issue the child was having and then empowered the child to make the best decision for themselves based on the choices given. What a great dad! I couldn’t help myself and had to let him know. At first, he smiled awkwardly and then I said, “No really, you are a good dad” and he got a huge grin and said, “Thank you.”

The lonely children had a parent with them, but with every one of these children, their parent was on their phone or on a tablet or doing something other than engaging with their child. Once at the gift shop, the child tried to show their parents a book, but the parent dismissed the child and said they were buying gum and that was it. The child quickly returned the book to the rack and returned to the parent’s side. Who knows if these children all live in two homes or divorced families, but it was interesting to notice the difference when a parent was traveling alone with a child. I kept thinking to myself, you’re on vacation, put your phone and tablet down and notice your children. In the bookstore, I found myself wanting to buy the book for the child. Of course, I didn’t but I thought, how cool is it that a child picked up a book and was excited about it. The parent really missed the moment with their child! 

Fast forward, as my vacation was to my hometown, I was driving to see a high school friend and passed a state park. I noticed the bridge and the body of water and thought to myself, hey, that’s the park my dad used to take us to, wait, that is where we went canoeing and fed the ducks. It was a very fond memory. I asked my sister about the park later and she confirmed that in fact, it was the same park. As an adult child of divorce, our childhood memories never leave us. We may forget about them but when given the moment of a red light in front of a state park sign, then seeing the bridge and the water, the memory flooded my heart. Going to that park with my dad was so much fun! There was no yelling, no arguing, no negative anything. We fed the ducks, hiked on trails and rented canoes and canoed through the water for what seemed to be hours. Thinking back, going to this state park with my dad and younger sister are some of my fondest dad memories. 

When I was a kid, there were no cell phones, no tablets and for the most part, living with my mom and seeing my dad every Sunday was a perfect situation. Honestly, looking back, only seeing my dad on Sundays didn’t make much difference. Every Sunday was spent together, and we built a lot of memories. It wasn’t perfect by any means because when a parent yells a lot, kids get afraid and cry, act out or internalize. So, there was that (for me and my sister), but beyond those more challenging times, our dad was present. He paid attention to us. He showed up at school events, he showed up to take prom pictures, he showed up for family dinners with his family, regardless of the day and we got to see him.  Maybe he wanted to see us more, but he didn’t tell us or show us. He was just present, fully, when we were together and more time didn’t seem as important, at least for me and my sister. He passed away at a young age, so he is not around to ask. I think he would say that we grew up to be good kids and healthy adults and that he was happy to be a part of our lives. 

Back to the airport. . . At KTSD, we tell parents all the time that childhood memories last a lifetime. I haven’t been to that state park since I was probably 12 years old, maybe 13, and yet, the sign triggered a memory and caused me to look further. I could almost see us canoeing under the bridge and getting stuck in the shallow water as we were trying to turn around. This was a laugh out loud moment. 

If your child asks for your attention, I encourage you to give it. They may want to show you a book in the airport gift store, show you a video on their phone, or like the dad with the four kids I mentioned earlier, just want to be heard. Whatever the situation, remember that your children will remember everything!

As a mom, I remember traveling with my daughter and spending lots of time in airports. She loved playing hand games, like Miss Mary Mack, or counting how many red suitcases we saw. When driving long distances, we looked for license plates from different states or found signs that followed the alphabet (I did both of these with my dad, by the way!) In the world of cell phones, of course we both had one, but mine was away and we played games on her phone or watched videos. As she got older, we each had our own devices, but I always had an eye on her and would put mine down as soon as there was a moment to connect. It’s funny thinking back to these times and I love it when my daughter, now 23, tells others about long lines at Disneyland where we played Miss Mary Mack for hours or how other children would watch us and then start playing similar games when we were in the airport trying to pass time. We had fun then and we laugh now.  

As you travel or hang out with your children this summer, I hope you will create memories that years later will result in laugh out loud moments! Safe and happy vacations this summer!