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.

What are children and teens really thinking?

Divorce is the break-up of two people who were in an intimate married relationship. At Kids’ Turn San Diego, the definition of divorce is the break-up of two parents who brought beautiful children into this world. From the eyes of the children, the definition of divorce is my parents argue all the time, will I need to move schools, how can I decorate my room at my new home, and will my parents ever stop arguing and fighting. 

As March 18th is fast approaching, I think back three years when we were told to quarantine, when my daughter moved home from college, and when Kids’ Turn San Diego quickly transitioned to remote working and virtual programming. Thank goodness for zoom and the internet! As the Executive Director, I lead our organization through unprecedented times and lived by the motto of “we’re building and flying at the same time”. We didn’t skip a beat and continued to serve every parent, child and family that requested our services. Many things changed for all of us, but for me, one change has provided me with the opportunity of really understanding the challenges of divorced families. I, by the way, grew up in a divorced family so I know what it was like being an 8-year-old child transitioning from one home to two, changing schools and eating lots of macaroni and cheese. Fortunately, my parents figured it out quickly and did it well. They had conflict but they didn’t put me and my sister in the middle and they didn’t ask me or my sister to deliver child support checks or messages. They didn’t talk with us about court or money, and for the most part, were pleasant with each other. My parents both attended our events and shared the celebration times and never gave my sister or me any reason to think that the failure of their marriage was our fault.

But, over the past three years, as the Executive Director of Kids’ Turn San Diego, I have served as a Behind the Scenes staff member of the parent groups of our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families. To date, I have personally been Behind the Scenes during all four weeks of 34 Family Workshops. I have observed transformation! When you hear a parent at graduation tell us that they are listening to their children more and giving them undivided attention, or things like “I learned to choose peace over power”, “I learned to respond instead of react” or “I learned that I have no control over others, I can only control my own words and behaviors”, it warms your heart. These parents have learned new skills that resulted in a personal transformation that will make them better parents and better people. I watch the graduations and smile knowing that the children of these parents will be blessed with parents that did it right, like my parents. 

But, then I hear one of our Group Leaders and their statement is profound. “Although not always stated by the children in the program, from their perspective, when parents argue and fight over custody, the children perceive their parents’ behaviors as fighting over them. They begin to see themselves as ‘the conflict’ and begin to believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault.

What does this statement really mean? When parents battle and fight over the custody of their children, which days they will be with one parent or the other, the battle and the fight is over your children, and your children see themselves as the cause of the fight. If your children didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a battle or a fight. Is this the message you want to be giving to your children? They do not care which home they are at more. They want to see both parents, they want to be happy children who transition from one home to the other with parents that are pleasant and nice to them and each other. They say, perception is everything. I really hope you will think about this! Do you really want your children growing up perceiving and believing that they are the cause of your conflict, divorce and unhappiness? I hope not! If you haven’t attended a Kids’ Turn San Diego co-parenting program, we invite you to invest in yourself, your family and your children. If you have and find yourself still angry and experiencing conflict, join us for a Continue the Conversation Class or come back to the program. We are never too old to learn and happiness can be part of all of our lives. As an adult child of divorce, and with all due respect, please get along with our co-parent and know that if you adjust well and move through life with ease, your children are more likely to adjust well. When you choose peace over power, your children get to feel happier!


Summer is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year with more time to relax and sunny days ahead. However, if you are divorced, this season may cause a difficult change in your normal routine with your co-parent. Ideally, summer vacations and custody schedules are clearly written in your Parenting Plan, but sometimes timing isn’t right, and you wish you could plan your vacation without stress or coordinating with others.

As summer is now upon us, we’d like to share some tips on how to keep summer fun and relaxing time for everyone!

1. Plan Ahead

While this seems obvious, it’s something that can be forgotten when we are already so busy in the present. Taking the time and effort to figure out an idea of what you want your summer to look like can make a huge impact on later stress. Consider that vacations to visit family members are important but, if outside your custody time, you may want to consider if time with your children during the Parenting Plan week would be better spent together than holding strong to the dates if your co-parent is likely to said ‘no’. As a strategy, start by reviewing your parenting plan and/or what you and your co-parent have agreed to. If you want to request a change, request it but remember, you have no control over the other parent and they have the right to say no. Tip: Keep it simple and stress free for yourself by thinking ahead and planning vacations on your custody time

2. Be Flexible

We can never predict what may happen in the future and plans may need to be adjusted. When you are flexible with your co-parent, they may be encouraged to be flexible with you! You will want to plan for vacations, but every minute of every day does not need to be planned. Consider this, children want to sleep and play during the summer. Vacations are things that adults want to do and children go along and have fun. Tip: Talk with your children about their ideal vacation time. Brainstorm ideas like days at the beach, visit parks or museums, plan walks or hikes in the evenings, play outside, and have fun. Listen to what they say and plan something that will be fun for all of you.

3. Vacations Are NOT Competitions

Simply put, your children are not in the game of “hmmm, I wonder which parent will plan the better vacation this year”. Parents sometimes create these competitions. We encourage you to relieve yourself of the pressure to spend money you don’t have in order to compete with your co-parent about whose vacation was better. Children just want to have time with no school, no early morning start to their day and most hope for a later bedtime. Your child’s love is nothing to compete for, and most definitely cannot be bought with money. Simple summer activities can feel like a fun vacation if you worry less about what the other parent is planning and focus more on your plans with your children. Tip: Focus on fun activities that create memories that will last a lifetime. A simple day of playing in the plastic pool in your front yard with fresh made lemonade or ice tea that you watch brew all day may provide much more quality time memories that an afternoon at the Waterpark where you wait in lines for hours to go down waterslides. Summer is about fun memories. Keep it simple!

4. Remember The Purpose Of Summer Vacations

Summer is meant to be a time for fun! When you’re planning your summer activities, don’t forget to enjoy them too. A vacation is meant to build a deeper connection with your children and make memories that you’ll both cherish. As long as you’re keeping your children safe, having their best interests in mind, and communicating with your co-parent, summer vacations should be a breeze! Tip: Keep it safe and let your children share the fun!

We hope these tips helped to relieve some stress about the summer after a separation. Enjoy your summer with your kids and enjoy the times without them too! Summer is also a great time for yourself to decompress and find what you enjoy when you’re alone. Make the most out of your summer and enjoy the next few months of sun!


Happy New Year! Can you believe January 2022 is almost over?

As the first month of 2022 is almost over, Kids’ Turn San Diego is reflecting on our path since March 2020. What a journey it has been!

We lived the motto of “building and flying at the same time” for almost a year and then we realized, wait, we got this! The location of our program is less important than the skills we are teaching. It matters less if we are sitting knee to knee in a circle of 25-30 parents in a Family Workshop Class or with 15 children sitting around a table than if we are providing a safe virtual space for children to share their feelings and for their parents to gain insight into their own words, actions, and behaviors.

We reflect. . . since March 2020, we watched parents lose contact with a child because the other parent believed that their child’s other parent was putting their child in harm’s way, exposing them to COVID, not requiring masks, or simply choosing to use the pandemic as a tool to destroy parent-child relationships. This was painful to hear about and saddens us, especially when we hear 8 year old children telling us that one of their parents is “toxic”. This is not the word of an 8 year old child!

Then we listened to children tell us how much they wish their parents would stop fighting, that they want them to stop arguing and yelling at each other, and to stop yelling at them – their children. This, by the way, is not new. Children have been wishing this and telling us this for 25 years! (We celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2021!)

As we reflect . . . we wonder, do parents continue to argue with their co-parent, even though they have been divorced for years? Do parents still send 10 page texts or emails? Then we think about you . . . are you a parent who says bad words or negative comments about your children’s other parent? Are you forcing (from your child’s perspective) your children to have relationships with your new partner? Are you a parent who is role modeling ineffective communication and unhealthy relationships to your children?

We hope you will reflect! If you answered yes to any of the above questions, from the words of children who have attended our programs, PLEASE STOP!

Your children want their parents to get along. They want you both at their sporting events, dance shows, and school activities. They don’t expect you to sit next to each other, but they want you there, and they deserve to have two parents show up for them! And by the way, if there is a bonus parent in the family (a step parent), your children want you to accept their bonus parent. Stop being jealous or mad that this person gets to raise your children. Stop saying mean things and setting the expectation for your children to dislike their bonus parent. YOU CANNOT CONTROL OTHERS, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR OWN THOUGHTS,  EMOTIONS, WORDS AND BEHAVIORS. You have choices about what you think, feel, say and do!

Consider, for a moment, what if for 2022, you made the choice to accept that you and your co-parent got divorced because you couldn’t make your marriage work, and with divorce you need to transition to a different type of relationship – a relationship that is about your children. You are both important to your children. Children are half one parent and half the other. There is no denying this fact! So why would you choose to deny your child access to their other parent, or why would you say mean things about the person that helped you create your children?

What if you decided to take a step back and acknowledge your part in your failed marriage and divorce? What if you recognized that the anger continues between you and your co-parent because you are making a (maybe unconscious) choice for it to continue? What if you decided enough is enough?

What if you decided that for 2022, you were going to accept your part, acknowledge it, and free yourself up from any blame or guilt you feel? What if you decided to leave every negative comment behind? What if you decided that being kind and caring in 2022 to everyone is your goal? What if you chose to praise your children for what they are doing well and focus less on the areas in which they struggle?

What if you decided to be your best self, and if you’re not sure who that is, what if you made discovering that your journey for 2022?

Imagine what life may be like. . .

Less arguing and more peace. Less anger and more love and happiness. Less energy spent on trying to “win” and more energy spent on making every moment with your children count.

Thank you for reflecting with us! We hope your 2022 journey will be full of fun, love, and laughter. We hope you will choose peace for yourself and your children. They really want that and we know you do too, even if it is deep down inside of your heart. Let go of anger and walk the path of resilience and joy! Be a happy person and parent who role models effective communication and healthy relationships. Your children deserve this version of you, and we hope your entire family will find happiness as they walk the path of kindness, care, and peace. We’re here if you need us! Enjoy the journey!


Merry Mindfulness through the Holidays

The holiday season can be a stressful time when it comes to traveling, coordinating with family, and, if you’re a co-parent, figuring out how to share the kids for holiday fun. With the holidays coming up, you may experience heightened conflict between you and your co-parent and a stir of emotions and stress. This year, let the holidays stay merry and bright! Read on to learn how to manage any difficult feelings that may come up through mindful parenting strategies.

Make Spirits Merry & Bright!

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time; allow yourself to enjoy it! Although a separated family situation can cause conflict, know that you have control over yourself and the ability to make choices regardless of your co-parent! Choose HAPPY! Here are some ways you can have a jolly good holiday season through mindfulness techniques:

1. Balance the should’s with your needs

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “I should be with my kid not them”, “I should have gotten my child a better gift.”, or “I shouldn’t be making so many mistakes.”? These “should” statements are cognitive distortions that impose heavy expectations as concrete rules for ourselves. Thinking in “should’s” can lead to resentment, guilt, and burnout.

This holiday season, if you catch yourself thinking in “should’s”, observe how making this expectation is affecting you. Know that you are human and have limitations. No one is a perfect parent. Take the time to sit with this and make space to meet your needs instead of expectations. By setting realistic goals and caring for yourself, you will be stronger to care for others!

2. Practice Self-Compassion

When your child is struggling or in pain, your immediate response is probably to see if you can help in some way. When you are struggling or in pain, would you want the same? This holiday season, there may be times where you feel lonely, sad, or angry. When these emotions come up, practice self-compassion! Think, “how do I recognize what is going on for me” and “if my friend or my child told me that they were feeling the way I am, what would I do for them to make them feel better?”. Take your answer and do it for yourself. You deserve the same love you give to those around you!

3. Be Open to Emotions

During the rush of the holidays, it’s easy to just go, go, go and be completely unaware of what is happening around and within you. Stay attentive and receptive to your child’s and your own emotions. The holidays bring up a load of emotions, and it may be so overwhelming that they are difficult to identify. A great practice with your child is to begin identifying the emotions they are feeling. Check in throughout the holiday season to ask them how they’re feeling. Try to name the emotion together, why this emotion was brought up, and what they want to do next. Likewise, you can ask yourself these questions. Allowing yourself to be open to emotions with your child and yourself can foster a great sense of security and peace.

4. Indulge in Gratitude

By developing your own awareness for the gifts and blessings in your life, your children will follow suit! The holiday season is a wonderful time to begin incorporating gratitude practice into your everyday life. Gratitude can sound like, “I’m so thankful we get to spend some time together!”, “I’m blessed to be alive and healthy today!”, or “I am so lucky to be a parent”. Make the gratitude concrete by sitting with your children at dinner (or the end of your time together) to think of one thing you were grateful for that day. You can even create a gratitude jar where everyone writes down something they’re thankful for and add it into a jar. Then when a negative headspace arrives, you or your child can open the notes and remind yourselves of these moments! Gratitude is simple but has great effects! The more you and your children practice gratitude, the more you’ll find yourself noticing all the things to be grateful for.

5. The Gift of the Present

There is no better gift than the present! It is so easy to fall into the trap of wishing for the simpler days of the past, or anticipating the events of the future. While it is good to take moments to reminisce and plan ahead, don’t let the present slip away! Practice being fully present in your current space, especially when you have the gift of being with your child. Rather than planning out what you need to do next, stop and think about your five senses. When you’re with your kid you can ask them what they hear. Maybe it’ll become your next favorite holiday song! Ask what do you smell. Are there delicious baked goods around or a favorite meal? Ask what do you see. Enjoy the sight of beautiful holiday décor! Ask what do you taste. Maybe a delicious homemade meal? Ask what do you feel. Embrace and cherish a warm hug with one another! It is great to practice this sense of presence through your five senses. Your children will be grateful once they grow up, smell the scent of cookies, and think of the times you’ve spent together.

We hope these tips help you have a mindful and merry holiday season! Happy holidays from our family to yours!

Tricks (or Treats!) for Co-Parenting on Halloween

Halloween is quickly approaching which means lots of sweet treats, crazy costumes, and family fun! However, if your family is experiencing divorce, Halloween may also be a stressful time as it starts the difficult question of, “how do we share the kids for the holidays?”. Whatever the decision there is not one parent who wins or loses! Your whole family can have a fun and spooktacular Halloween with these tricks to co-parenting on Halloween!

Being able to both accompany your children as they trick-or-treat is ideal for children in divorced families. If you choose to share the night together, here are some tricks to remember:

1. Put your child first!

Being around your co-parent can bring out complicated thoughts and feelings. Despite these emotions, remember that successful co-parenting occurs when each parent values how important it is to put their child first! Take time to listen to what your child wants to do. Maybe they want to trick-or-treat with their friends, or dress up and parade around the house. Halloween is a holiday for the kids to have fun! If it’s possible, for the one night, put aside your own feelings and make decisions with your child in mind first.

2. Make decisions ahead of time.

One of the most important things to avoid on Halloween is arguing in front of your children. Show your children that you and your co-parent can cooperate! This means that you’ll want to figure out how the night will go ahead of time. Things to consider are what time you’ll meet up, what neighborhood you’ll be going to, how long you’ll stay out for, and who your child goes home with at the end of the night. Making these decisions ahead of time will help make the rest of the night flow smoothly!

3. Enjoy the night!

Children pick up on tension and stress easily, so it is important for you to relax and enjoy the night as well! Take pictures of your child in their costume, hold their hand as you walk around, and simply let yourself enjoy the quality time you are getting with your child. Yes, your co-parent may be with you as well but that does not have to change the fun that your child has, or that you have. By doing this, you send a message to your child that says, “We love you and are committed to making you happy! We can put aside our issues for you.”

Not all cases are the same, so if you would rather choose to split the day or alternate which of you is with the children each year, here are some ideas on how to handle your Halloween:

1. Leave the Choosing to the Parents

Do not force your child to choose between one parent or the other. Putting your child in the position of choosing parents can be emotionally distressing so do not set them up for disappointment or unnecessary stress. Your child comes from both you and your co-parent, so they love you both! Talk to your co-parent to decide who will have your child at what time/year/days. If this seems difficult, you can always reach out for professional help!

2. Create new traditions!

Just because you do not have your kids on Halloween night does not mean the fun ends. Create a new tradition with your kids! Halloween events occur throughout all of October. Maybe your business throws a Halloween party that you can take your kids to? Does your community host any trunk or treat events, or pumpkin patches? Could you find a day to watch Halloween movies and decorate the house together? Halloween is not limited to one day. Your child will feel lucky that they get to celebrate Halloween more than once, and you will both get to bond during this quality time together!


3. Share the highlights.

Send photos of your children in their costumes to your co-parent. Let your children know you are doing this, as it is a kind gesture that will feel good to your children. If you’re the parent getting the picture, when you see your children, make sure you tell them how much you loved their costume! Stay engaged with your child and ask them about how the night went or what their favorite parts were. These simple actions can help your children feel more comfortable and confident about your family’s divorce because they’ll know you are still part of their life.

We hope these tricks help make Halloween a treat for your entire family! Remember that using a creative and kid centered approach to sharing holidays can make even the most complicated situations a success. Happy Halloween!


Understanding ADHD: Walk in My Shoes and Gain Perspective on the Most Common Myths

October is known for Halloween festivities, but did you know that it is also the official month for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness? Many children and adults live with ADHD, as it is very common. This poem tells it all:

Take my hand and come with me,

I want to teach you about ADHD.

I need you to know, I want to explain,

I have a very different brain.

Sights, sounds, and thoughts collide.

What to do first? I can’t decide.

Please understand I’m not to blame,

I just can’t process things the same.


Take my hand and walk with me,

Let me show you about ADHD.

I try to behave, I want to be good,

But I sometimes forget to do as I should.

Walk with me and wear my shoes,

You’ll see it’s not the way I’d choose.

I do know what I’m supposed to do,

But my brain is slow getting the message through.


Take my hand and talk with me,

I want to tell you about ADHD.

I rarely think before I talk,

I often run when I should walk.

It’s hard to get my school work done,

My thoughts are outside having fun.

I never know just where to start,

I think with my feelings and see with my heart.


Take my hand and stand by me,

I need you to know about ADHD.

It’s hard to explain but I want you to know,

I can’t help letting my feelings show.

Sometimes I’m angry, jealous, or sad.

I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and mad.

I can’t concentrate and I lose all my stuff.

I try really hard but it’s never enough.


Take my hand and learn with me,

We need to know more about ADHD.

I worry a lot about getting things wrong,

Everything I do takes twice as long.

Everyday is exhausting for me…

Looking through the fog of ADHD.

I’m often so misunderstood,

I would change in a heartbeat if I could.


Take my hand and listen to me,

I want to share a secret about ADHD.

I want you to know there is more to me.

I’m not defined by it, you see.

I’m sensitive, kind and lots of fun.

I’m blamed for things I haven’t done.

I’m the loyalist friend you’ll ever know,

I just need a chance to let it show.


Take my hand and look at me,

Just forget about the ADHD.

I have real feelings just like you.

The love in my heart is just as true.

I may have a brain that can never rest,

But please understand I’m trying my best.

I want you to know, I need you to see,

I’m more than the label, I am still me!!!!

Author Unknown

This poem speaks the truth about people living with ADHD. I hope you will always remember the last line of the poem, “I’m more than a label, I am still me!!!!” because ADHD does not define a person. Instead, ADHD is a behavioral condition that can make everyday routines and tasks more challenging for people who have ADHD. By the way, if you had it as a child, you probably still have it as an adult but hopefully you learned strategies over the years to manage your energy and have put systems in place to keep you focused and organized. Here are some tips for helping children manage ADHD challenges.  

1. Provide clear, consistent expectations, directions, and limits. Children with ADHD are most successful when the adults in their lives are consistent. In divorced families, there are oftentimes different rules and structure at each home. For example, one parent may have bedtimes, homework time and dinner time, while the other parent may avoid rules and structure and go with the flow when their children are with them. Different rules in different houses can be challenging for all children in divorced families but most children easily adjust and transition from one set of rules to the other. However, for children with ADHD, the adjustment and transition may not be so easy. If your child has ADHD, we encourage you to read the poem again and take a walk in your child’s shoes. Children with ADHD respond well to structure, so rules and charts are a great tool for success. Break activities down and give one direction at a time. Praise your child and encourage them to be successful. Charts with stickers for success are fun for elementary age children and, believe it or not, even older children like to gain rewards, so be creative with your older children.

2. If a doctor has prescribed ADHD medications, follow the doctor’s order. Children who have been prescribed ADHD medications are most successful when their medications are taken as prescribed. In divorced families, oftentimes parents are not on the same page about ADHD medications. What does this look like? Here’s the visual. . .our child gets their medications during the first and third weeks of the month when they are with me but they do not take the medications on weeks two and four because their other parent doesn’t believe in giving medications, and probably doesn’t believe in the ADHD diagnosis.  As with all other medications, ADHD medications need to be given consistently to work effectively and to avoid negative effects to the child. The medications are prescribed to help a child focus. If you don’t think your child needs the medications or you don’t believe in the diagnosis, we encourage you to read the poem again. Is this your child?  If co-parents disagree, talk to the doctors and get on the same page. It is not fair, nor is it healthy, for your child to be on and off medications.

3. Boost your child’s confidence. Children with ADHD may receive lots of negative feedback from others in their lives, including teachers, parents, coaches, and peers. Every negative comment hurts their heart and may negatively impact their self-esteem. Read the poem again and share it with everyone in your child’s life. Your child deserves to be understood and treated with respect at all times. As your child’s parent, ensure your child has positive interactions and hears the word “yes” way more than they hear “no”. Spend time with your child and engage in activities that strengthen and build your child’s self-esteem. Schedule fun outings with your child, praise your child for big and small successes, acknowledge your child’s strengths, and tell your child how much you love them!

Here are some tips for parents:

  1. Don’t waste your emotional energy on self blame. You may have experienced negative experiences where people shame or blame you for your child’s behaviors. Remember, ADHD is not a result of poor parenting. ADHD is a behavioral condition that has to do with the structure of your child’s brain. When you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe and remember your child’s love at the center of it all. You can join a support group and seek professional help to ensure you are your best self for your child. There are also lots of social media sites that you may find helpful.
  2. Educate yourself and become your child’s best advocate. The best way to help your child is to take time to learn all you can about ADHD. Know how ADHD specifically affects your child, as every child is different, and be able to speak up for your child’s rights! Here are some common ADHD myths that you may find helpful:



ADHD is not real. People are just lazy.


ADHD can look like an excuse for laziness, but those with ADHD actually have a problem with the chemical dynamics in their brain. This is why it is important to check for ADHD and receive medication. Read the section of the poem “Take my hand and walk with me”.


Only boys can have ADHD.


Boys are statistically diagnosed with ADHD about three time as often as girls, but about 4.2% of girls do receive a diagnosis at some point in their life. Women and girls tend to be less likely to be properly diagnosed with ADHD due to gender bias and variation in symptoms. Girls often have the inattentive type of ADHD, so they do not always fit the typical picture of a hyper child with ADHD. ADHD looks different in everyone. When someone experiences difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and poor time management, they may have ADHD.


I should hide my child’s ADHD to prevent labeling and discrimination.


It is difficult to decide whether you should disclose your child’s ADHD. There is no need to tell everyone about your child’s ADHD, but hiding it can be emotionally distressing for you and your child, and may make it difficult to get proper treatment. Secrecy can also foster more shame. ADHD is nothing to be shameful about or to blame yourself. Think of it as a behavioral condition your child has and forget about stigma and labels. Be your child’s advocate and help them stand up for what they need to be successful.


Everyone has a little ADHD.


People may experience some symptoms of ADHD, but that does not mean they have ADHD. Not everyone has a physical difference in their brain. While saying comments about ADHD may seem to be normalizing the condition, it can actually be hurtful and dismissive of the real struggles those with ADHD go through. Refer back to the poem and read it often. The more you read it, the more you will understand!

As co-parents, the best thing you can do for your child is to communicate and cooperate because, at the end of the day, you love your child above all else and your child loves both of their parents. To learn more about October ADHD Awareness Month check out the official ADHD Awareness website!


Traveling with kids can be a real challenge — and even more so when trying to coordinate with your co-parent.  Check out our top tips for maintaining the peace with your co-parent as you’re planning your next summer getaway. These tips are provided by our friends at the West Coast Family Mediation Center.

Create an itinerary

You and your co-parent will both feel better knowing where your children are going to be and with whom. Share travel details like flight numbers, hotel addresses, and other parts of your itinerary so that your co-parent is aware of your plans and included in your children’s life. You will want the same information if your children go on a trip with their other parent!

Follow your agreement

Check the requirements for travel in your Parenting Plan or Marital Settlement Agreement. You can certainly deviate from the plan if you both agree, but make sure to record any changes in writing before your departure.

Keep communication as consistent as possible

While you’re traveling with your kids, your children are missing out on time with their other parent. Keeping up communication as much as possible is important for your children. Plan a time each day or a few times during the trip for your kids to check in with their other parent. It is also great if you share photos and updates with your co-parent. If it is part of the routine to say good morning or good night, try to stick to that.

Remember what it’s all about

Children in divorced families deserve to have fun vacations with their parents, just like every other child. Vacations are not about making the other parent jealous or being happy that your co-parent is having less time with your children while you have more.

Vacations are about family and being together! If you find yourself weaponizing your vacation against your co-parent, remember that you are not being respectful to your children by upsetting their routine and time with their other parent. Make vacations about your children — fun, togetherness, and excitement — and ensure they have time to connect with their other parent!

For more great tips on navigating travel with your coparent, check out this blog post!


Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!

With June 20th right around the corner, it’s time to think about Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those who have embraced the role of fatherhood or the role of being a dad. It is a day to thank all the dads, fathers, and father figures for their commitment to raising and nurturing children.

What is a DAD? A dad is a Dependable Adult whose key responsibility is to help their children Develop into respectable community members.

What is a FATHER? A father is a parent Figure who Advocates for their children, provides a sense of Togetherness, strives for childhood Happiness, and Empowers their children to be Responsible community members.

What is a father figure? Anyone can be a father figure! It could be a mom, grandparent, coach, friend’s parent, teacher, mentor, older sibling, cousin or family member. Father figures may be related or not.

Father’s Day is about honoring all these people!

Over the past year, while we all lived through the pandemic, some dads and fathers have really struggled. For various reasons, they haven’t seen their children, and they are hurting. Every month in our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families, we heard from a dad, “I haven’t seen my children in months” — with the most recent comment being, “I haven’t seen my children in 15 months, and they tell me that I am toxic and bad and that they do not want to see me.” How is it possible that an 8-year-old child would refer to their parent as “toxic”? This is not a word we hear often. It is not a common social media word. It is not a word taught in school.

One of the saddest aspects of divorce is when one parent says so many negative things about their “ex-spouse” that the children begin to take on their parent’s words as their own. Parents say, “I don’t ever say negative things about my child’s other parent in front of my children,” but they forget that children hear and see everything. When you are on the phone talking about your divorce, even when your children are in another room or actively engaged in an activity, they stop and listen. They hear everything!

The reality is, when you are divorced, your relationship with your “ex-spouse” is no longer necessary.

Think about this: When you are “ex-spouses,” you are still engaging in an emotional relationship. If your immediate response is “No, I’m not!” — then maybe you are still emotionally involved.

Being in an emotional relationship with your child’s other parent is common, but unnecessary. After all, if you wanted the emotional relationship, you could have remained married. On this Father’s Day, it is time to let it go! Focus on healing yourself and on moving on. Try this:

Instead of referring to your child’s other parent as your “ex-spouse,” refer to them as your “co-parent.” Now all communication with this other person is about your sharing the role of parent. Nothing less and nothing more. Is it that simple? Yes. Is it easy? No way!

So how do you transition into this new mentality? Yes, divorce is a transition. Not only for your children, but for you, too! This transition may include: leaving or selling a house you may love, leaving behind a neighborhood of friends, losing friends because they were your co-parent’s friends, losing family traditions because you can’t go to your co-parent’s house anymore for holidays, moving into a smaller place, losing half of your income to child support or spousal support — and let’s not forget the misery you may feel because your children are living with their other parent half the time.

Transition is real. Transition can be painful. Transition may be sad. Transition can be a time of healing, a time of freedom and a time of change. Transition leads to a new normal. Transition leads to stability. Transition becomes a place of acceptance and a place of happiness.

Whether you are a mom or a dad, Father’s Day is a time for you to step into a place of personal healing. How? Help your children make Father’s Day cards or gifts. Encourage them to be creative and to celebrate their other parent. Paint rocks, color pictures, help your child write a song or poem.

Father’s Day is not about spending money on gifts. It is not about control. It should never be something one parent can manipulate or make their children feel bad about.

Father’s Day is about recognizing the other person who helped make your beautiful children. If for no other reason than that, Father’s Day is a day to teach your children to recognize and celebrate their other parent.

As we transition out of the pandemic and into our new normal, I encourage you to make it this kind of a day. Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Take this chance to reflect on your mental wellbeing as a co-parent, and the mental wellbeing of your children. If you're seeking support, Kids' Turn San Diego is here to assist you!

Since 1949, May has been classified as Mental Health Awareness Month, a month to talk openly about mental health. This year’s theme is “Hope for Change,” with a focus on the present moment, encouraging us to reflect on the growth we’ve experienced, and move toward the future.

What is mental health? Sometimes, the word alone has so much stigma around it that we want to avoid it or look the other way. Maybe it’s because we’re scared, maybe it’s because it’s unknown, or maybe it’s because we’re worried that if someone associates the words “mental health” with us that we are somehow flawed.

In simple terms, mental health can be a state of mind – like waking up and feeling well-rested and good about yourself and your day, or feeling like the eight hours you just slept were not enough and dreading the day ahead.

Mental health challenges may include sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, depression or schizophrenia. There is a continuum. For most, our days will go up and down, but we feel pretty good about life overall. Others may struggle more.

As we’re coming out of the pandemic (hopefully!), we’re reflecting on the stories we’ve heard and the challenges we have experienced when it comes to mental health.

We recently heard about a 7-year-old child having a panic attack on the way to school on day two of in-person learning. The teacher was giving a math test to assess retention levels of her second graders, and the child was so afraid of being behind the other children and not meeting the teacher’s expectations. By the time he arrived at school, this little guy was hyperventilating, crying hysterically and refusing to go into school. It took his mom 22 minutes to settle him down and for him to agree to go into the school. This is probably situational anxiety, and this little guy probably had a panic attack. There is no predictor that this will ever happen again, but giving him support and letting him know he is okay did the trick.

Another child, age 14, didn’t want to return to school. She liked taking classes from her room on the computer. There was an option to return to in-person learning, but she didn’t want to. Her parent insisted that she return. She was dropped off on campus, but after her parent left, she walked home and crawled in through her window to take her classes remotely. She hadn’t been to high school yet and felt uncomfortable not knowing who would be there. She didn’t know how to dress and was afraid that the teacher would not like her. She felt bad about doing this when her parent had gone to work. By the time her parent returned, she was crying and shaking. She was afraid to tell her parent about what she had done. Does this teen have mental health issues, or is this also situational? If her leaving school continues, one might call this a mental health or behavioral disorder.

If you or your child are struggling with mental health issues, try and determine if they are situational or more serious. Help is here!

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Does my child cry excessively or isolate all the time? Has my child been eating regularly or are they picking at meals? Has my child been eating more than usual and laying around? Has my child been looking sad or complaining of sadness?
    • If yes, your child may be experiencing depression. Many people get depressed at one point or another. But when you notice it, you may be concerned. Don’t panic — get help! Call your doctor’s office for counseling referrals, reach out to Kids’ Turn San Diego for assistance, reach out to the School Counselor (many schools have resources available for counseling services during the school day), or do an internet search for counselors in your area and call around. Whatever you do, don’t wait! Your child will benefit from having someone to talk with, and so will you.
  1. Is your child hyperventilating? Do they tell you their heart is pounding? Do they shake and not know why? Do they think they may be going crazy or that they will die from their racing heart rate? 
    • If yes, your child may be experiencing anxiety or panic attacks. Many people experience anxiety and panic attacks, especially during high-stress times. As a parent, you may think your children will be excited to return to school, to see their friends and to have life return to normal. However, the pandemic has impacted children on multiple levels. Some are very fearful of getting COVID, are afraid to touch things in public, or worry that others may be sick without knowing it. It is a scary time for all of us and especially for some children. If your child is having anxiety or panic attacks, it is best not to try and rationalize with them at the time. They will not be able to comprehend or listen to what you are saying. Have these conversations when they are calm and relaxed. During a panic attack or period of high anxiety, distractions may help. Here are some tips and suggestions: 
      • Coloring books: research has shown that coloring decreases anxiety. Be prepared ahead of time by telling your child that you heard coloring is a good way to relax, so you were thinking of buying or downloading some coloring books. Coloring by numbers is a good tool to use during times of high anxiety or panic attacks, as it causes you to think about the color needed, to choose the right color and to then find all the spaces with that number. Coloring isn’t just for kids — it has real benefits for adults, too. If coloring supports an adult, it will also help a child who is feeling anxious.
    • Take a paper towel or wash cloth and fold it the long way. Wet it slightly with cold water and place it at the hairline on the back of your child’s head. You can also splash cold water on your face. These strategies change the chemicals in the brain quicker so the chemicals needed to reduce the anxiety kick in and your child will start to feel less anxious. Click here to learn more about other strategies to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.

If you’re worried about your child (or yourself), here are some resources:

  • San Diego Warm Line (a peer-to-peer support line): 619-295-1055
  • Access and Crisis Line (a 24/7 helpline to assist with mental health-related crisis): 858-724-7240
  • Contact your doctor’s office
  • Call 211 San Diego by dialing 411 on your phone or visit their website to review mental health service resources throughout San Diego County

Kids’ Turn San Diego offers limited counseling services to children who have attended our Family Workshop for Separated and Divorce Families program. Call KTSD at 858-521-0027 for support and referrals.

If you or your child are experiencing mental health challenges, get help now!

Take this as an opportunity to get the extra support you or your child need. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a reminder that mental health affects all of us. Your mental health matters!