Tag Archives: Children

The Basics of Successful Coparenting

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“Coparenting” refers to when two separated adults (through divorce, a break-up, or having never been “together”) raise their children as a team after a separation or divorce. While people have been coparenting for ages, the word describing the concept is fairly new. It was brought to the public’s attention by the Associations of Separated Parents in Italy in the early 2000s.

Coparenting can be messy business. The psychology of you, the psychology of your ex, and most importantly, the psychology of your children all make every day a surprise.  As difficult as it can be, it really will behoove you to try to open up communication with your ex to work collectively toward doing what is best for your children.

Boundaries With Your Ex

Divorce is not exactly about agreeing and getting along, but when it comes to the happiness and well-being of your children, it should be. If your circumstances lend themselves to it, commit to specific boundaries with your ex that can define your relationship as coparents. Those boundaries should include specific details about how to deal with one another, even when you are not together. Do your best to come to an agreement with your ex that neither of you will speak negatively about the other person. Then, try to enhance that positive relationship by agreeing to preclude your children from speaking negatively about the other parent.

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Boundaries also include more concrete and easy-to-follow rules, such as those for visitation. Some sources suggest that the parent who drops off a child (to school, practice, etc.) before a visitation switch should never pick up the child and bring him or her to the other parent’s house (after making sure the child is aware of who is picking them up, of course), making each visitation a clear and peaceful transition for your child.

These boundaries with your coparent may be difficult, and what works in theory may not work in reality. Keep open communication with your coparent, and support his or her relationship with your child. Doing this may require a willingness to bend or change the rules for situations in which they do no work out.

Boundaries With Yourself

Since you are the only person you can control, you can control yourself with the best interests of your child in mind. Sometimes this can be extremely hard, especially if your coparent isn’t, well, cooperating. Regardless of the other person’s actions, Dr. Phil advises against allowing yourself to use your child to get back at your ex, which includes digging for information or interfering with their relationship in a harmful way. This may include refraining from asking your child to choose between you or your coparent, as well as holding back from revealing frustrated feelings and aggravation if your child tells you something you don’t like about the other parent.

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Openness With Your Children

Believe it or not, among all the things parents should not do, there is some consensus as to what coparents should do. Psychology Today offers general advice on talking to your children about divorce and coparenting, making it paramount that coparents, first and foremost, allow their kids to be kids. Proactively keeping your children out of adult problems will help them understand that the divorce is not about them, and that it is not their fault.

While your children’s childhood needs to be preserved, there are some heavy life lessons they will simply have to deal with because of your divorce, and it may force them to grow up faster. Be willing to talk openly with your children about your divorce, and provide them with a safe environment in which they can ask questions, share opinions, and expect to be treated with respect. To bolster this, be present and supportive of your children as they deal with various and unpredictable emotions that arise regarding both your divorce and outside problems they encounter. Being emotionally present for ten minutes is better than being physically present but emotionally distracted for thirty. If your child is concerned about the play at school or his or her skills on the soccer field, listen and try your best to give deference to their issue, even if it seems small to you.

No one said coparenting is easy, and there is no right way to do it, but it can be done in a thoughtful and focused manner that is best for all parties involved. Parenting is a duty and a right, and the concept of coparenting is borne of that duty. Entering into each situation with thoughtfulness and intent can help you create the best world for your child.

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Before You Say “I Do”…

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8 Must-Ask Questions Prior to Proposal

Most people who are on the cusp of proposing/being proposed to are familiar with the standard questions which you should ask your potential new betrothed. Such inquiries, ubiquitously regarded as mandatory, include “Do you want kids, and how will they be raised?”, “Where do you see yourself in 20+ years?”, “What religion do you practice?” and “What’s your financial status?” There are a few more topics which should be broached as well, just to fully ensure everyone is one the same premarital page. Some of these may be a little awkward to bring up, but you probably want to know if your intended spouse incessantly plays World of Warcraft all night or is a communist, right?

Any children / pets / spongy relatives I don’t know about?

Some people live their lives by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. If not prompted, they may never disclose the fact that they have a 12 foot long pet Komodo dragon in their attic, a gambling addicted cousin who “needs to crash for a few…months” or are the matriarch/patriarch of a whole other family, replete with 6 offspring, residing in Des Moines that they live with when on “business trips.” Sometimes you just have to ask.

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Any (other) strange relatives I don’t know about?

If you’re at the point of almost agreeing to get hitched, you’ve probably met most of your beloved’s family. This means you’ve encountered the whack jobs (every single clan has them, no need to feel ashamed of your conspiracy-theory-spouting great uncle with the monstrous monobrow). However, there sometimes lurks an abominable creature of such epic proportions that they are never even mentioned until after the nuptials have been legally confirmed and eternal vows have been spoken. At this point, it’s too late to protest when a Bigfoot-hunting hillbilly cousin shows up at your wedding reception, with a poorly wrapped, “fresh” roadkill raccoon as a present.

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I know what’s currently in your bank account…but what/who do you owe??

Look, there’s nothing wrong with being financially destitute, as long as they are totally honest about it. Even if your soon to be fiance-ed partner has shown you that they have zero available funds, there may also be a sizable debt chimera churlishly pursuing their every move. You need to explicitly ask and find out how much they owe, and to whom. If it’s 18 grand in student loans, that is something you can both work at mitigating. If it’s 100+ k to “Louie the Finger,” you may want to think twice before you walk down the aisle with this potential “hit” target.

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Have any of your exes “boiled bunnies?”

Of course it’s only natural that your honey boo has had some previous relationships (if they haven’t, and you aren’t still in high school, this may be yet another crimson flag). Even if you do not desire to dig deep into their love life past, you should gently inquire if there are any grudge holding, spell casting, stalkerific exes waiting in the bushes for you. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, you just should be prepared (with mace, a machete or judo chops).

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Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the _____ party?

Sure, you and your cuddle muffin are most likely in agreement about important political and social issues …but were they once an active participant in a violent coup, fervently sporting an anti-aircraft rifle? Yes, people can change, but if your relationship has progressed from mere dalliances to the hope of an entire life spent together, it can be vital to know of any lingering affiliations with incendiary organizations or conflicting ideologies they may be harboring. There is no circumstance where it won’t behoove you to know if they used to conduct naked rituals in moonlit forests, offering up sacrifices to various lunar deities. Nothing divides a family like differences in faith or politics…and sometimes tornados, of course.

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Who’s gonna do what?

In the America of today, both parties in a relationship often have jobs/careers that they are quite vested in. What this leads to is not a whole lot of free time to allocate for chores/home maintenance. Well, so what? The deal is that you need to figure out who is going to be responsible for what in advance, otherwise you may find yourself in a month long game of chicken with your lover over who’s taking out the recyclables. If neither of you like to cook, but both savor delicious homemade tagliatelle bolognese for dinner and western omelets at dawn, you either need to hire a live-in chef, work out a compromise or go your insatiable, separate ways.

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Kids: when, how, where, why…what’s the deal?

The super blatantly obvious topic of kids really need not be addressed here, as you clearly will have spoken to your partner about this already…or have you? You can’t be apprehensive about asking your beau if they a) want kids at all, b) want to raise them in a particular fashion (say, for instance, solely speaking French), c) how many of the little nuggets do you want scuttling about, d) when do you want them disrupting/enriching your lives, and e) who’s taking time off to initially rear the little adorable runts? Get all this out of the way (along with any other …eccentric requests regarding your offspring) and you’ll be all set and can avoid the morass of opposing child upbringing doctrines. Then you just have to deal with actually feeding, clothing and iPhoning them…

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Who’s in charge of planning out the perennially-pressure-packed-to-be-perfect wedding day?

The rules of wedding planning have changed a fair amount over the last decade or so. What was once a “bride-to-be” specific activity is now open territory, as giddy grooms want in on the action. Lest we forget, possible interloping parents in the equation. There’s a solid chance there are going to be a lot of (often imperious) personalities and opinions flying around. Have an open talk about where you want this blessed day to take place, who is invited, how much ground you’re actually going to let your parents cover and who exactly is paying for this thing (which on average costs around 30k in these glorious United States we live in). Better to have this convo now, than later when one of you excitedly suggests a destination wedding at a remote chateau, yet your partner has their heart set on the Elks Lodge in town.

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Hopefully everyone will be able to tackle any and all unresolved issues before sparkly diamond cynosures are slipped on ring fingers. If things simply can not be worked out, and you happen to be stuck with a diamond ring (or, they are temporarily worked out, and only later are you stuck with the dang thing), there is at least a place you can sell it off for a sizable amount. Diamond Lighthouse takes in all diamonds (1 carat and higher), and helps you recover lost funds.  We do not buy diamonds, rather we aid you in selling yours to a vetted network of professional buyers.  We take a commission from the sale (10% on those 1 carat and larger stones), so we naturally want to get you the highest amount possible.

Getting cash back for unneeded diamond jewelry of any nature is always a step in the right direction. Then you will be even better prepared to get out there and find the right person for you: someone who doesn’t have insane relatives or allegiances to despotic rulers or evil entities.

Happy engaging!

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-Joe Leone

The Truth about Credit Card Debt in the United States

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As of January 2015, Americans are $882.9 billion in the hole, a 3.3% increase from the previous year.

Yet people are more reluctant to talk about credit card debt than ever, preferring normally taboo topics like politics, salary, love, and religion over credit card debt, according to a poll by CreditCard.com. The average credit card holder has 3.5 credit cards, those little pieces of plastic that have wracked the average credit card debt per household up to $15,799. (This number does not consider households that do not use credit cards. In other words, having credit cards has given the average American household the opportunity to have almost $16K in debt!) Who would want to ruin a good dinner party by talking about that?
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Understanding Modern Child Custody

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As with many of the legal tenets associated with divorce, child custody laws vary from state to state.  There are, however, a few basic principles that all states currently comply with when determining how and where a child of separated/divorced parents will reside and be reared.

The phrase typically associated with the determination of which parent will be granted custody of a child (or children) is the “best interests of the child.”  This is what a judge seeks to find during the course of divorce proceedings.  When sole custody is granted, the norm now is to pick the parent that exhibits the most suitable living situation for the child (the best scenario for a child’s mindset and tangible needs).  This differs greatly than the method used up until roughly 40 years ago, where the mother was routinely, and almost automatically, granted full custody.  Unless it was proven that the mother was grossly unfit to care for her child, she would usually be deemed the sole custodian.
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