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 .

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/

4) Therapy

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

Facebook
Pinterest
LinkedIn