Garden of Gratitude Principles

Written by Family Workshop Teen Graduate

Living a positive, successful life is unattainable without gratitude. 

Often described as appreciation, gratitude is demonstrating thankfulness for someone or something in your life. Gratitude can also be used as a coping mechanism, often helping with emotion and stress regulation. For those like me, a child of divorce, gratitude is an especially necessary skill and mindset to implement in daily life.

This year, Kids’ Turn San Diego’s Garden of Gratitude campaign represents the overarching process of giving thanks. Building your garden of gratitude takes time and effort, but can start with something as simple as saying thank you. In the heat of my parents’ divorce, attending the Family Workshop at KTSD helped me grow through gratitude. This began my metamorphosis, like the butterfly in KTSD’s garden, with the hope to encourage growth and reflection in me, my parents, and my sibling.

In 2020, when I began my KTSD journey, I was at an all time low. It was increasingly challenging for me to feel connected to my community. I believed nobody around me resonated with my feelings, or wanted to. When I joined the Family Workshop program,  I was encouraged to interact with kids my age who felt similarly, and we learned and practiced many skills. It was crucial for me to gain understanding and perspective on my situation in relation to others, as that helped me practice gratitude. Suddenly, I was grateful to have at least one parent that reached out to understand me. I was grateful to have a sibling, someone who believed in me, who I could believe in as well. I was grateful to have a program that showed me I’m not alone. All of those components together propelled me into my biggest stage of development.

Metamorphosis is often a symbol used to represent a big change in behavior or thinking, ultimately showing growth into maturation or adulthood. For me, KTSD helped change metamorphosis from a symbol to an outcome, as my experience helped me grow in wisdom, as well as perspective. 

From all the lessons I received from KTSD, the biggest takeaway I had was to give grace to myself and others around me suffering. Hold your loved ones tighter, give a smile to a stranger, say thank you when someone helps you… Thank you to the Group Leaders at KTSD for planting seeds and helping me become the beautiful butterfly I am today. 

Begin Your Metamorphosis

If KTSD sounds like it may be a good fit for you, a friend or a family member, explore our website to learn more.

Plant a Seed of Kindness

If you’re inspired by my story, join me in the Garden of Gratitude by making a donation today.

Don’t forget to follow KTSD on social media!

CHOOSING PEACE OVER CONFLICT

CHILDREN IN CONFLICT

Divorce leads to a broken heart for everyone in the family, especially when conflict contiues after the papers are signed. Dreams may be shattered and lost. We may feel alone and sad. Sometimes we even feel angry and these feelings transition out of our hearts and into our behavior. It may not feel like it or you may not believe it, but having conflict in your relationship with you co-parent is a choice. You cannot change them or what they may or may not do to engage in conflict, but you can control yourself. YOU CAN DECIDE THAT YOU NO LONGER WANT THE CONFLICT. This doesn't mean that your co-parent will change or stop trying to engage you in the conflict, but it does mean that you have a choice to engage in the conflict, to continue it or YOU CAN CHOOSE TO SAY NO THANK YOU AND MOVE ON WITHOUT REACTING TO THE CONFLICT. This is not easy, but if and when you decide you are done with conflict with your co-parent, you can shfit your perspective to being in business with your co-parent. The business is to raise kind, caring and compassionate humans. Nothing more, nothing less. When in business, your communication is unemotional, direct, brief and to the point and you make requests and ask questions versus demanding information or reacting out of anger or emotion.
THIS VALENTINE'S DAY, WE INVITE YOU TO HEAL YOUR HEART AND CHOOSE PEACE OVER CONFLICT

CHILDREN IN PEACE

When children live in two homes full of love, acceptance, encouragement and praise, they learn to respect others, to be patient, to be confident and to appreciate everything and everyone in their lives. When children live with peace, they learn to be leaders, to have empathy and to empower themselves and others. They do well in school and thrive in all areas. When they live in conflict, they develop anxiety, depression, self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, bully others or are bullied by others and they struggle in school and with friends. No parent wishes this for their children but yet, some choose conflict. Referencing the poem by Dorothy Nolte "Children Learn What They Live", when children live with hostility, they learn to fight. Remember, the choice is yours!
YOU CAN CHOOSE CONFLICT OR YOU CAN CHOOSE PEACE.

This Valentine’s Day we invite you to nurture the broken hearts in your home by choosing to leave conflict in the past and look toward the future of investing in your children and their long term emotional well-being.

Does peaceful co-parenting sound impossible? 

Click here to learn about our court-approved, high conflict co-parenting program called Cooperative Co-Parenting 

What Are You Grateful For?

Kids’ Turn San Diego enters 2024 being more committed than ever to our mission of “promoting, supporting and securing the well-being of children experiencing family separation” and to doing whatever it takes to accomplish our mission. We see this year as one of purpose and gratitude. Our purpose is to empower children and heal families. We are grateful to those who allow us to be a part of their journey and to all who have joined our journey of creating life-changing programs for children and families.

As the year begins, we invite you to pause and reflect on a very important question … “What are you grateful for?”

Please join me in a short daily exercise, that hopefully will turn into a habit for you, and perhaps, your family. 

  1. Place a notepad and pen next to your bed.
  2. Each night before you go to bed, write at least one thing down you are grateful for.
  3. When your child is with you the next time, do the same activity with your child (remember not to suggest they do this at their other
    parent’s home, as you have no control over what happens in their other home).
  4. Repeat each night. 

A simple activity like this may change your perspective and outlook on life. I hope you will do this for at least one month (and then always)!

Kids’ Turn San Diego is grateful for being a resource to children and families. What are you grateful for today?

Accepting Holiday Reality & Enjoying the Holidays

As the holidays are fast approaching, many parents are struggling around holiday vacations. At Kids’ Turn San Diego, this is a common theme every December. In this month’s blog, we share some facts, offer some realities and provide some suggestions for getting out of the struggle. 

Facts

  • Fact: Sometimes children travel with one parent during the holidays to visit with extended family and one parent stays back for one reason or another
  • Fact: When children travel with one parent, they do not have physical contact with their other parent
  • Fact: Many separated and divorced parents are struggling with the upcoming holiday season and time away from their children
  • Fact: In separated and divorced families, vacation time is oftentimes viewed as “they’re taking my kids away from me”, “They’re trying to make me miserable”, or “It’s not fair for me not to see my children for three weeks”

Reality

  • Reality: In separated and divorced families, vacations are NOT ABOUT YOU
  • Reality: Family vacations are NOT ONE PARENT TAKING AWAY YOUR CHILDREN. Remember the children are OUR CHILDREN, NOT MY CHILDREN
  • Reality: Family vacations are NOT ABOUT MAKING YOU MISERABLE
  • Reality: Family vacations ARE FAIR FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND WILL LEAD TO MEMORIES THAT LAST A LIFETIME

In our Family Workshop program, we teach a skill called the ABCs of Healthy Communication.

A = Attitudes are how we think and feel about a situation

B = Behaviors are what we do as a reaction or response to a situation

C = Choices are the decisions we make about how we will think, feel and behave towards a situation

From the skill of Doing What Works, when it comes to vacation time, use your ABCs. NO ONE HAS CONTROL OVER HOW YOU THINK OR FEEL, only you do. NO ONE CAN GET INSIDE YOUR BODY and make you behave a certain way. The CHOICE IS YOURS! Here are some suggestions for letting go so you can move forward. 

Suggestions

  • Suggestion: I will survive if I do not see our children for three weeks. OUR CHILDREN WILL NOT FORGET ME!
  • Suggestion: Even though I don’t want to think about it this way, if our children are with their other parent for three weeks, THIS IS THREE WEEKS OF ME TIME TO DO WHATEVER I WANT!
  • Suggestion: Create a calendar with designated reality-based FaceTime or Phone Calls and provide the request when you agree to the vacation request. REMEMBER, A 5PM CALL IS NOT REALISTIC!
  • Suggestion: Agree to the vacation request and clearly state when your vacation will be. How, what, when? GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY. CHOOSE A TIME PERIOD AND THEN FIGURE IT OUT. Not sure how to do this? Keep it simple, if your co-parent is requesting a three week vacation this year from December 15th – January 5th, state, I will agree to your vacation request for December 15, 2023 – January 5, 2024, as long as we agree to the following FaceTime or Phone Call schedule (willing to negotiate if needed, as this is a tentative plan) and you approve my three week vacation next year from December 20, 2024 – January 3, 2025.

How we react to our co-parent’s request is no one’s choice but our own! You can run to your attorney or spend time and money running to court, OR YOU CAN SAVE THE TIME AND MONEY, KEEP IT SIMPLE AND USE THE MONEY TO PLAN YOUR THREE WEEK VACATION NEXT YEAR!  The choice is yours! 

From the Kids’ Turn San Diego Family to Yours, we wish you a peaceful holiday season full of gratitude for your incredible children!

World Kindness Week - 5 Acts of Kindness

Did you know last week, November 13-19, was World Kindness Week? Kindness encourages connections between people, boosts self-esteem, and reaps many benefits for those practicing kindness and those affected by it. Think of kindness like a superpower that’s contagious!

Celebrate World Kindness Week and enter the Thanksgiving holiday by committing to at least one act of kindness each day.

Here are 5 ideas for the week:

1) Say thank you throughout the day.

2) Open the door for another person.

3) Do a favor for a friend or family member.

4) Reach out to a loved one you haven’t connected with recently for the holiday season.

5) Donate to a cause you care about.

Conflict Resolution Day - October 19, 2023

Conflict Resolution Day is observed on the third Thursday of October every year, falling on October 19 this year, today. Conflict Resolution Day is a day to accept that conflict sometimes exists and that instead of avoiding it or ignoring it, to find a way to get through it.  Conflicts tend to arise in many areas of our lives, such as workplaces, relationships, and families (https://nationaltoday.com/conflict-resolution-day/). At work, its co-workers bad mouthing others, questioning their performance, or creating hostile work environments. In relationships, well, let’s face it, conflict is normal and part of all relationships, it’s just how you handle yourself that makes all the difference. And, in families, well, conflict can be devastating.

 

Imagine you are 6-years-old and your parents are arguing over who will pick you up from first grade. This is the first time you’re going to a full day of school. You feel scared, nervous, and wish your parents would stop for a minute to help you pick out your first day of school outfit and to teach you how to use a lunchbox. You decide to wear one of your new outfits and you watch the other children during lunch so you figure out how to use your lunchbox and what to eat when. You learned the coping strategy of observing and doing what others do. Now you are in 3rd grade. Your parents still argue over everything. You pick out your first day of school clothes, pack your lunch and get ready for the first day of school. You’re late and your teacher calls you out on being late. You go to lunch and a couple of the kids walk by you and mimic the words of the teacher, “You have to be responsible to get to school on time, haha, you were late, you have to be responsible to be on time.” You tell them to be quiet. They make fun of you, “be quiet, leave me alone.” You get up and you throw your lunchbox and hit one of the kids in the head. The laughter stops. The room seems to go silent. The lunch lady is heading your way and you find yourself being escorted to the principal’s office. You try to explain but the principal doesn’t want to listen. After all, it is only the first day of school. You learned that if you try to stand up for yourself and others don’t back down, that you have to take matters into your own hands, and sometimes that means throwing something.

 

Children learn what they live! If they live with conflict, they learn conflict. If they live with anger, they learn how to react with anger.

 

On this Conflict Resolution Day, please join Kids’ Turn San Diego in choosing peace over power. Teach your children that they matter. If you are separated or divorced and in a high conflict situation with your child’s other parent, do something different. On this Conflict Resolution Day, decide that you love your children more than you dislike their other parent. Step back and be willing to “not win” but to instead collaborate in the best interest of your child. Children learn what they live!

 

Beyond today, Kids’ Turn San Diego is here to help. If you need support to “not win” or to “get unstuck so you can free yourself from a high conflict relationship”, attend a Cooperative Co-Parenting Program. This is a court approved high conflict co-parenting program. Kids’ Turn San Diego is committed to children feeling empowered and to healing families. Remember, children learn what they live. We’re here to support you if you want the support.

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 Yulian@kidsturnsd.org .

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!