What can we find for you?
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 .
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!
How to Prioritize ME and my mental health and emotional wellbeing?
As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of raising a family, and we can forget to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, we even feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Although it is normal and okay to have these feelings, it is important to take care of them so they do not spoil over into your relationships with your children or co-parent. When we prioritize our mental health and take care of ourselves, handling challenges is a bit easier. Here are some ways to prioritize YOU:
1) Get Outside
Whether going outside means just stepping outside for a moment to breathe or going for a long walk, spending time outside triggers our brains to produce chemicals that result in feelings of calmness, joy, creativity, and may even increase your concentration. Research shows that spending time in the sun each day has a positive effect on decreasing depression. Remember to stop and smell the roses!
To learn more about opportunities to get outside in San Diego, click here: https://www.sandiego.org/articles/25-fun-free-things-to-do-in-san-diego.aspx
2) At Home Spa Day
Take time to care for yourself! What does this look like? For some, they like taking a longer shower or putting on some lotion. For others, they like applying a face mask, lighting some candles, and sinking into a nice warm bath. Be creative by getting some bath salts, fill the tub and give yourself a pedicure. A little extra nurturing goes a long way!
Need some direction? This YouTube video provides you a luxurious DIY home pamper routine on a budget: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj8dyX4P1LM&pp=ygUQZGl5IGhvbWUgc3BhIGRheQ%3D%3D
3) Connect with Others
Sometimes as parents, we can feel isolated in our community, in our feelings, in our hardships. By reaching out and connecting with others, we create a support system to lean on in both moments of difficulty and moments of happiness. If you are struggling, the good news is, so are others. Find places to connect. Join a Facebook group related to your hobby, talk with other parents at your kids’ school, ask a friend out to coffee or go to an exercise class or join a team sport for adults. When you connect with others, you will feel better about yourself, so get off the couch and do something different!
Here are some local San Diego Groups and Parents: https://www.sandiegoparent.com/
After a hard day, we are able to recenter ourselves knowing that tomorrow will probably be an easier day. During hard times, anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed can come from the lack of certainty that tomorrow will be easier. During these harder times, therapy can help provide an outlet for us to unpack and let go. Not all therapists are a good fit. Sometimes it takes meeting 3 or 4 therapists until you find the right one. But, once you do, there is a lot of personal power in finding someone to help you manage your feelings and whatever else is interfering in your happiness.
Don’t know where to start? Here is one: https://www.betterhelp.com/?frombhhealth=1
5) Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques are ways that each of us can come back to the present during difficult times. The practice of doing this ranges widely from person to person. For some, grounding techniques are reconnecting to where your body is by lying on the ground, squeezing playdough, or pressing your toes into the floor. For others, they might be paying attention to different senses of your body by lighting a candle, making a cup of tea, putting on calming music, or wearing a comfy sweatshirt. You can find the right technique for you by speaking with a therapist or by doing your own research. Calming mediations are good too.
For more grounding techniques, click here: https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques
With Mother’s Day just passed and Father’s Day around the corner. Make a commitment to yourself to take extra care of yourself and, if you are struggling, especially your mental health. Remember, feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed from time to time as a parent is completely normal. During these times, it is important to re-center yourself, and actively and intentionally create moments of positivity. Remember, you can’t control what your kids, co-parent, family members, or anyone else does, but you control what you think and feel and how you respond to others. Your kids are watching your every move so make good moves to prioritize yourself, including your mental and emotional well-being.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Research shows that the human brain is about 90% developed by the age of 3 and recent studies have shown that the brain continues to grow and develop and undergoes a growth spurt in the teen years, with full development around the age of 25 or 26 (https://www.sharecare.com/health/brain/when-human-brain-stop-growing).
The brain growth spurt was alive and in action in our most recent Family Workshop Teen Group! In this program, the teens learn skills, strategies and techniques to better communicate with their parents and to better manage themselves within their families. They offered a profound message to all teens who are experiencing a family separation or divorce.
If you have a teenager, please share this message. If you have a child of any age, please pay attention.
What are the teens who created this poster saying to the parents in their lives?
This may be surprising to you, but children oftentimes blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and/or behaviors. They do not typically say this aloud, but it is an unconscious thought that lingers and eats away at their emotional well-being. And sadly, many parents who have been divorced for years, continue to argue like when they were married. Why is this? Younger children have no idea but wish every day and every moment that their parents would stop arguing and would just get along. This message is heard loud and clear through our Family Workshop program theme “Your children want you to put your differences aside and be kind people in front of them, if not for you, for them”. These are not the words of this writer but instead are real words that children in our Family Workshop told us.
Honestly, if parents think that their decisions and choices to remain in and continue conflict with their children’s other parent is not impacting their children, we hope this blog will shed some light on a new reality. When parents are divorced and they continue to argue, fight, be mean to each other or say bad things about each other, it is harmful to the emotional well-being of their children.
Shifting back to the teens, their wish is the same as the younger children, but their message is stronger. Teens think their parents like arguing with each other and really wish they could get along when they are together in front of them. When together at events, teens in our programs want their parents to get along and if they can’t, the teens want their parents to fake it for them so they don’t need to be embarrassed by their parents’ behaviors or feel like a jumping bean going from one side of the room to the other so they get to be with both of their parents.
Again, this is real! If you think we are making this up, take a look at the poster the teens created for other teens.
“DEAR OTHER TEENS… YOU ARE NOT ALONE! None of this is your fault and you will get through it!! Stay strong!”
I reflect and wonder… Why do teens need to tell other teens that they will get through it? What are they needing to get through and why do they need to be strong?
Divorce is an adult decision to no longer be in an emotional relationship, to no longer live in the same home, to no longer gather together with friends and family, to no longer parent your children under one roof. When done well, parents live in two homes, they adjust their quality of living to a new reality of the family income now needs to pay for two of everything, they hurt and grieve but share their feelings with support systems other than their children, they silence themselves and others so there are no negative words being said about their children’s other parent, they collaborate on the custody time and are flexible when needed, they attend their children’s events (no matter what) and they grieve, forgive and move on.
When not done well, parents get stuck. They continue to refer to the other parent as an “ex”, representing the emotional connection with someone they were intimate with at some time, they sometimes bad mouth the other parent, and oftentimes, their anger grows instead of diminishing. Many ask us, “Why is this happening?, Why are they doing this?” The honest answer is I don’t know. But from our experience, divorce has stages and many parents tend to skip them. The first stage seems to be the decision to separate and divorce, the second stage is filing the papers and beginning the legal process, the next few stages include moves, new homes, new schools for children, lots of decisions and experiencing the many losses that arise but were unanticipated. Losses? The loss of one’s social support system, as married couples tend to lose interest in their divorced friends or they just can’t decide who to be friends with, so they choose neither. The loss of extended family. The loss of family dinners. The loss of good night hugs and bedtime routines with your children. The loss of morning activities. The loss of your children for half the week.
Divorce may be a painful process but may be a little less complicated and easier on your children if you go through the process with grace, compassion and gratitude. Easier said than done, but very important! As the teens are telling other teens, we share a similar message with parents, “Dear Parents, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You will get through your divorce by feeling every feeling, accepting your losses and moving through your grief to forgiveness and acceptance. Take the time to be good to yourself. Nurture yourself and remember to be your best at all times, if not for you, then for your children. And remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you need support, Reach out to Kids’ Turn San Diego. We’re here to support you!
The Reality of Co-Parenting
When parents attend our co-parenting programs, they hope to reduce conflict and increase their communication with the other parent. They hope the other parent will learn skills that will make them easier to deal with and that co-parenting will be easier. These are very common thoughts that are shared by parents attending both our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families and Cooperative Co-Parenting Programs.
Here’s the thing about divorce. . . YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE OTHER PARENT! You have no say so about what happens or doesn’t happen in their home, how they communicate with you or how they treat you or behave in front of your children.
Here’s another thing. . . YOU CANNOT CHANGE ANYONE ELSE, ONLY YOURSELF!
This said, attending a co-parenting program can be mind-changing and transformational, BUT, you have to put in the work, the energy and the time. To be honest, no matter your wish or hopes, the other person is not reading this, only you are.
Here are some thoughts to ponder. . .
and tips on managing them. . .
If you find yourself saying, “Our child is failing in school because my co-parent doesn’t oversee homework at their house.”
At the end of the day, your child is responsible for their success in school. Parents can help and support, but they cannot get inside their child’s brain.
EXAMPLE: The teacher keeps emailing us that our child is behind in homework. I do homework at my house, but my co-parent doesn’t make our child do homework at their house.
REALITY: Homework is assigned so children practice what they learn in school. The idea is that we learn concepts, but practice turns the concept into a skill (if you attended our programs, you may have heard this message). This said, there is not a lot of time in our weekdays after school. Having downtime and family time is important for children’s development. Instead of spending your time blaming your co-parent for your child’s failing in school, consider that your child is failing because your child needs help understanding the concepts. Talk with your child to understand (use Active Listening) and then talk with the teachers. Schedule time for you and your child to talk with the teacher(s) and work with them to help your child be successful. Remember, teachers do not need to know your life story, you’re meeting with them to help your child tell their story around homework and to help them create a plan that will work for them. Here are some questions you can ask to get support for your child while they are in school.
Is there a homework club? Are there tutors? For homework time, could your child do the first and last problem on every math sheet instead of all of them? Could reading be done for shorter time spans or during the weekend instead of daily?
State to the teachers that you are only able to help with homework when your children are with you. Do not blame or point fingers, and do not talk about your co-parent. They are not in the meeting so neither should references to them. If your child is in the meeting, let them take the lead to problem solve with the teacher. If they are not in the meeting, be proactive and wonder how you are able to help with your child’s homework success on the days they live with you. Regardless of who is or isn’t helping with homework, make a plan with the teachers that will work in your home. Encourage your child’s learning by making it fun and less stressful and remember to praise and encourage your children for their successes .
If you find yourself saying, “My co-parent doesn’t communicate with me and signs our child up for activities that sometimes fall on my days.”
You have no control over what others do or say.
EXAMPLE: My co-parent signed our child up for sports and some of the practices and games are on “my” days with our child. A common go to thought is “No, I’m not giving up my time for something they scheduled.”
REALITY: Children benefit from participating in team sports and activities. Whether it is soccer, ballet, art classes or karate, children learn about rules, respect, teamwork, problem-solving, integrity and commitment. These are all traits that help children grow up into good students and employees. The reality is that your children are learning from you first. This said, if you
choose to not allow them to participate, you are teaching them that commitment to your team or others is not important or valued. Instead, control what you can control. Go to the coach, introduce yourself and ask to be added to the parent communication list so you get the schedule and all the communications directly. Then, take your child and support them. It may not feel like it at first, but when you are your child’s biggest cheerleader, even if your co-parent is present and your child visits with them briefly during the event, your relationship with your child will be even stronger than it is now. Make it about your child!
If you find yourself saying, “I need them to…”
When you need someone else to do something, accept the reality that it is NOT the job of others to meet your needs.
EXAMPLE: My co-parent is always late. I need them to be on
time because I have plans.
REALITY: Your co-parent is probably always late. It is who they are. Take control of your own needs and stop making plans around transition times. If your co-parent tends to run an hour late, schedule your plans to begin two hours after your scheduled transition time. Who cares if they are late, enjoy the extra time with your children!
If you find yourself saying, “My co-parent never listens to me and when they respond to my messages, the messages are like 5 or more paragraphs long.”
What you say may be important, but others are not required to listen to you. You have no control over what they do.
EXAMPLE: We use a communication application that the judge court ordered us to use. But, my co-parent still sends nasty messages, writes mean things and accuses me of anything and everything you can imagine. Every time I read the messages, I am triggered and it distracts me from whatever I am doing.
REALITY: Control what you can control. Do you have notifications turned on? If yes, we invite you to immediately turn them off. You can choose when to check the app or your texts/emails. Court orders typically require you to respond within a time period. The time period is typically not immediately and you usually have at least 24 hours to respond. After turning off the notifications, you get to choose when to read the messages versus being controlled by them. If every message is a story, stop reading every word. Skim the message for question marks and then read that sentence. You may need to read the sentence right before it for context. Also, skim the message for the names of your children or the word children if that is how your co-parent typically refers to them. Read the sentence with your child’s name and determine if it is informational or if it requires a response. That’s it. No need to read the nasty or mean words. Control what you can control. If you have feelings about the message, respond, “Thank you for your message. I’ll get back to you xxxx (give a time frame).” You have complied with your court order to respond within a time period. If you say you will get back to your co-parent, follow through because that is what you expect them to do for you. If there are no questions or anything that actually requires a response, a simple “Thank you” or thumbs up emoji works. If the message does require a response. Draft it but do not send. Walk away and come back the next day (if you attended our programs, this is the skill of responding versus reacting). Edit your message to remove emotion, defensiveness, or your personal justifications about anything. Ask yourself, would I send this email to my boss or co-worker? If the answer is “No”, do not send it to your co-parent. Once you are divorced, consider yourself being in business with your co-parent with the business being to raise your children to be kind, caring and compassionate people. Keep it unemotional and businesslike
Co-parenting dynamics follow your dynamics of when you were together. The divorce paper does not mean the dynamics go away. Here’s a fact – IT TAKES TWO TO HAVE CONFLICT! If you are in a conflictual relationship with your co-parent, we encourage you to look at your own behaviors, words and actions. You may not be starting the conflict, but you may be helping it continue. The reality – SUCCESSFUL CO-PARENTING IS NOT EASY. It takes time, skills and
commitment to reduce conflict and improve communication. Kids’ Turn San Diego is here to help and support you on your journey. YEP, IT’S A JOURNEY. One that includes grieving, forgiving, letting go of what didn’t work and finding a new common ground – your children. When you see your child’s other parent as your “ex”, that is about an intimate relationship between two adults and when you are no longer together, that relationship is over! It is important to grieve the loss of that intimate relationship and forgive yourself for any possible ways that you contributed to the loss (yes, this is part of the journey). When you begin to see the parent of your children as your co-parent, now you are in the business of raising happy and healthy children. Two parents (co-parents) who looked into the eyes of their children on the day they were born and who fell in love. Divorce doesn’t change this memory or love. Kids’ Turn San Diego honors you as a parent and we believe you will be the best co-parent possible, when you choose to be.
To learn more about our supportive programs, click here.
To ensure our services are available for all, click here.
The True Meaning of Holidays
I oftentimes find myself saying, “Holidays are not a date on the calendar, they are about family, tradition and whatever meaning they bring to you.” Parents nod and maybe they get what I am saying or maybe not. Then, the week before Thanksgiving, a parent told me that they were celebrating Thanksgiving the next day because their child will be with their other parent on Thanksgiving and when the parent and child were talking about it, the child said, “Oh no. We have to celebrate Thanksgiving together. How about we have it tomorrow?” The parent thought quickly and said, “Yes. Let’s do it.”. Within 30 minutes, calls were made to Aunts, Uncles and cousins, Grandparents and some family friends. On a Sunday, they were gathering with 22 family members and friends and the parent and child were having so much fun decorating their home with paper plate turkeys.
From a personal perspective, my daughter is 22 years old and works full time at a residential treatment facility. I anticipated that she would be working on Thanksgiving, as she works on Thursdays from 3-11pm. We talked about having Thanksgiving on Sunday when she is off. On Thanksgiving day, she called on her way to work. We had a great conversation but afterwards, my heart felt empty. Even though I knew my daughter was working, it didn’t change the fact that I missed her. We have been together for 21 Thanksgivings, and as a parent, we expect our children to be with us on the holidays.
When you get separated or divorced, one of the biggest challenges, especially in the first few years, is managing the holidays if your children are with their other parent. Remember, the holidays are not a date on the calendar, they are about family, tradition and whatever meaning they bring you.
As I sat at our table on Thanksgiving, I thought about our daughter and hoped she was having a nice meal. I missed her but when she called on her break, all I said was “Happy Thanksgiving”. I wanted to know about her meal. I wanted to tell her how much I missed her. BUT. . . our daughter was working and being a responsible adult. She is not responsible for how I feel! Thinking about it, she was probably missing me and her family too. . . after all, she called during her break. Then I thought, hey, I guess Thanksgiving is important to her, she doesn’t usually call and today she did, twice. We may not be together but she was thinking about family and tradition.
Fast forward, our daughter came for dinner on Sunday and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, full of tradition, fun and family. She asked about our Thanksgiving meal and wanted to know what we ate and how we spent the evening. I answered all her questions with joy in my heart. I didn’t ask her questions about her day. I figured she would tell me what she wanted to tell me, if she wanted to.
So, I reflect. Whether your child is 5 or 22, it doesn’t make that much difference. As a parent, when you’re not with your children on a holiday, your heart feels a bit empty. That is a fact! But, it doesn’t have to mean that you miss the holiday. It just means you could enjoy the holiday with others on the calendar holiday date and then, be creative with your children. They may think it is silly at first, but they will learn to value the holiday as family, fun and tradition, regardless of the day it gets celebrated!
From my home to yours, happy holidays!
P.S. Today is Giving Tuesday, a day of giving for non-profit organizations. If you enjoyed this blog or appreciated attending a Kids’ Turn San Diego program, we invite you to make a donation and help us help other children and families. Thank you!
Taking care of yourself and supporting your friends can make the difference between a good day and a not-so-good day. Try out these tips for taking care of yourself so you can be your healthiest and happiest.
10 Self-Care Strategies for Teens
- It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Focus on what you can CONTROL, like your breathing, staying in the present and disconnecting from all forms of media.
- Spend time outside, even if you’re avoiding crowds. Wear a mask and social distance.
- Engage in mindfulness activities, such as starting a gratitude journal or preparing your favorite meal without distractions.
- Reach out and connect with someone supportive in your life.
- Practice self-care in whatever form works for you. This could include exercising, reading, listening to music, meditating, or getting adequate sleep.
- Make a list of your favorite songs or movies, and share the list with your friends. Maybe even create a throwback song list and listen to it together or with your parents.
- Challenge negative beliefs about change.
- Find new ways to connect with your friends. Social distancing should not mean social isolation!
- Make your space comfy and cozy with a soft blanket, relaxing lighting, and objects that make you happy or remind you of happy memories.
- Set boundaries with your media consumption and use your extra time to engage in meaningful conversations.
Teen Apps for Self-Care
- Try out the self-care tools and resources on GritX
- MyLife offers over 400 activities for managing stress, sleeping better and finding calm
Mental Health Resources
National Suicide Prevention Line
Crisis Text Line
- Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained counselor for free
- 1-855-845-7415 available 24/7
- A non-emergency resource for anyone seeking emotional support
The Trevor Project
- TrevorLifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- Text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200
- TrevorChat: via thetrevorpoject.org
National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Text LOVEIS to 22522
- Resources for teen dating abuse
Child Abuse Hotline
- 1-800-344-6000 available 24/7
- If you or a friend is being hurt or neglected
- Define your network and your plan to stay safe
- Strategies to help cope with stress and anxiety
The new year brings new beginnings and opportunities to enjoy the present and provide hope for the future! The past holds memories — both good and bad — that can be remembered and cherished, but must not overtake our lives.
In order to live in the present, we must stop clinging to the past. If you entertain bitter thoughts, happy thoughts cannot find a place. As much as you have been hurt in the past, clinging to those memories can hold you back.
Forgiving the past is one way to release both yourself and the memories. Forgiving does not mean accepting. The act of forgiveness takes place in our mind and allows ourselves the opportunity to find peace. It has nothing to do with other people.
So, let go of the past and design your life in the present! Try reading and repeating these forgiveness affirmations every day to help live in the present and forgive.
- I live for the present and future and the past is gone.
- I am human and forgive myself for any mistakes I may have made.
- I move beyond forgiving myself and others and move towards compassion and kindness for all.
- I am forgiving, loving, gentle and kind.
- Each day is a new opportunity. Today is the first day of my new life.
The important thing is to take responsibility for your own life. No one else can do this for you! Each one of us designs our own life. We each make a decision—conscious or unconscious—about our thoughts and behaviors. Only you can control these! Sometimes we think others are controlling us, but ONLY YOU have control over your own thoughts and feelings.
Forgiving is not easy. It means letting go of things that didn’t go as planned. In a divorced family, it may mean letting go of your thoughts of “happily ever after,” your wedding vows, your vision of a lifetime of family being together at parties and holidays, or kissing your children good night every day. Forgiving is saying, “Even though my dreams didn’t happen, I am okay. My children are okay, my life is okay, and my past is okay.” Forgiving means moving forward, embracing your past, and accepting what was and what will be.
It’s your choice! You could choose to be stuck. You could choose to be angry at your co-parent forever. You could choose to hold a grudge for the end of your marriage or relationship. You could choose to engage in hurtful and unkind communication in front of your children. These are your choices, but they will have consequences. If you are a parent who chooses to be angry or engage in hurtful and unkind communication with your co-parent (or their new partner), this may damage your child’s long-term relationship with you and relationships with others. When engaging in these behaviors, you teach your children how to have ineffective and unhealthy relationships.
Forgiveness also means that you make positive choices. You can choose to be respectful with your co-parent and their new partner. Role-modeling respect teaches your children to be accepting of others, regardless of how you may feel or think about a situation. You can choose to prioritize your children and accept that they need both parents in their lives. You can choose to promote positive parent-child relationships, regardless of how you may think or feel.
As a divorced parent, feeling good is a choice you make. If you need help with it, seek the guidance of a friend or professional therapist. Your children, regardless of their ages, are not your friends or therapists.
As 2020 is upon us, take charge of the new decade! Make a resolution to forgive yourself and let go of the past. Embrace the present and be open to restructuring your concept of family and your dreams. As you walk the path of forgiveness, life becomes a new, clean slate on which you can be the best parent and co-parent possible.
We at Kids’ Turn San Diego believe in you and wish you a wonderful year!
In Honor of Veterans Day: The Experiences of Military Families
Members and families of the United States military have a strong commitment to serve. Service members work long hours, and families experience constant moves and deployments.
Transitions may lead to tension, disconnect, and conflict between parents. About 75% of military couples get divorced. When a family breaks up, parents and children of all ages feel helpless, sad, frightened, guilty, and angry.
Children can’t wait until the day their mommy or daddy is home for good. Everything will be great then! But many children are left sad and don’t understand why parents begin to argue or ignore each other, why they are not playing games or having family dinners, why their parent who was gone for so long now doesn’t want to talk with them or attend their sporting events. They are confused, wondering why this parent just sits in front of the TV or is always working on the car or keeps talking to themselves or struggles to walk due to an injury in combat.
At Kids’ Turn San Diego, our goal is to change family relationships in positive ways so children experiencing family separations and military transitions are happier. In our programs, both children and their parents participate. Children realize for the first time that they are not alone in their family situation. They finally feel “normal.” They learn new ways to express their feelings and realize that their parent’s behavior is not their fault, freeing them from self-blame. Parents learn communication tools, coping skills, and ways to put their children first in family decisions
In celebration of Veterans Day, spend the day with your children! Here are some ideas:
- Visit the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
- Take a tour of the USS Midway
- Go to a Veterans Day Parade in your community
- Visit the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar
- Talk with your children about the history of our country
- Put a flag out to honor Veterans Day
- Wear a red poppy or yellow ribbon to show support
More interested in hanging out at home? Try some of these ideas:
- Put your cell phone down and do something fun with your child. Younger children enjoy imaginative play like tea parties or superhero adventures. Children ages 7-12 tend to enjoy board/video games, and older children like to listen to music, play video games, or simply hang out—without parents asking questions or giving advice. Children of all ages feel important and cared for when you pay attention to them.
- Encourage your children by using phrases like:
- “You’re so much fun to be around!”
- “Can I put this on the bulletin board at work or on the refrigerator?”
- “I’m so lucky to be your parent.”
- Try to catch your child doing something good and notice it aloud.
- “You are such a good big brother/sister.”
- “I love how you are teaching your younger sibling how to…”
- “I saw that you got an A on your math test—great job!”
- Encourage your child’s relationship with their other parent or grandparents. One way is to help them make birthday cards or Mother’s/Father’s Day cards. Things that are handmade are oftentimes the most treasured gifts we receive from others.
- Listen to your children without giving advice or trying to solve their problems.
Being in the military is a family commitment. In honor of Veterans Day, Kids’ Turn San Diego salutes all military-connected family members. Thank you all for your commitment and service!