Tag Archives: custody

How to Handle Your Little Monsters

Dealing with Kids of Divorce on Halloween

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The pumpkins are carved, the ghosts are hung and the Disney Princess and Storm Trooper costumes have been purchased.  Everything is all set for creepily jovial, sugar-high fueled fun!  Everything, that is, except the logistics regarding who is taking the kids trick-or-treating; you or your ex.  Uh-oh.  This could be a potentially frightening night, for all the wrong reasons.

Before you end up forever haunted by the memory of this spooky holiday, let’s take a look at what the divorce experts have to say about successfully wrangling the wee ones this year.  We’ve collected information from Diane L. Danois, J.D., bonusfamilies, hermentorcenter.com, brendashoshanna.weebly.com and divorce360.com in an effort to keep the kids grinning widely on this much Hallowed Eve.

Some holidays can be tough for divorced parents; luckily Halloween typically isn’t one of them

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Determining who will have custody of the kids on Christmas/Hanukkah or Thanksgiving can be a truly trying experience.  Expectations from both sides of the families can be huge (“I need to see my beautiful grandchildren on the high holy days!”)  Thankfully, Halloween isn’t really viewed as that important to most parents (the kids don’t even get off from school), so relinquishing control of the tykes usually isn’t that big of a deal.  On the other hand, Halloween is very highly regarded in the kid community as much celebrated and glorious day (they get to dress up AND eat a bag a’ candy), so it’s important to think about their wants more than your own.

Come Together?

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Unlike a lot of other holidays, actually sharing the evening experience with your ex can be decent (granted, depending on how much you would like to see your ex as an actual skeleton, of course).  The kids are obviously adorable in their little Batman and Frozen outfits and the atmosphere is generally light (despite the frolicking devils, witches and demons, naturally).  Pairing up with your ex partner to drive your offspring door to door to beg for cavity inducing morsels can be a relatively harmless experience, all things considered.

Pick your Poison

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If you fall into the ‘I can’t even be in the same room as my ex without taking a machete to them’ camp, then taking the kids out together is not really an option.  So, you need to decide who will mind them.  The easiest solution?  Whoever enjoys the holiday more themselves should take them.  Meaning, if you revel in all the ghoulish elements yourself, the result is that your children will have more fun with you.  The whole point of this day is for your babes to have a good time, so obviously put their interests first (C’mon, you’re a parent; you should be beyond used to this).  Another factor that can help you and your ex decide who should have them this eerie eve is if your kids have a group of like-minded goblins they want to troll a particular neighborhood for Reese’s with.  If they have a set cadre of trick/treating chums, let whichever parent is more conveniently situated, geographically, have them.  It just makes the most sense and won’t confuse the kids at all.

You’re the (Boogey) Boss

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All of the professionals in the child psychology field unanimously seem to agree that this should be your decision (who takes whom), not your kids.  Putting them in the middle is not a good idea (clearly there are few, if any, circumstances where this is advocated).  You and your ex should determine who’s taking them beforehand and then that’s it, end of discussion.  The final nail in the coffin…

Play Nice

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As with all holidays in general, the kinder you can be (or at least appear) to your ex in front of your kids, the better for their overall well-being.  Nobody wants to see Mummy and Dad-ula arguing about petty things on a day that’s supposed to be full of creepy cheer.  Slap a grin on your face and get through the day; you’ll have the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving to grumble about soon enough.

Keep your Solo Spirits Up!

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Finally, if you hand the kids off to your ex and will be spending the night by your lonesome, don’t let the little ones think you are sad about it.  Wish them luck in scaring the other kids so bad that they wet their pants, kiss their clown-make-up laden cheeks, check to see if they’re wearing those annoying reflectors you got them and send them on their merry way.  Even if you’ll be Netflixing a scary movie all alone, make sure the kids think you are genuinely happy about it.  Nobody wants to treat-or-treat while thinking about how sad their left behind parent is (womp womp).

Follow these scarily simple tips and a good night will be had by all.  Then, you will have truly earned the right to ransack their sugary loot and gorge yourself silly on mini-Snickers.

-Joe Leone 

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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Social Media Ruined My Marriage!

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It’s pretty obvious that excessive social media usage (read: Facebooking) is not the healthiest thing for a marriage.  Now there’s empirical evidence to back it up.  A two year study spanning 2011-2012 executed by researchers at Boston University found that “a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with anywhere from a 2.18 percent to a 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates.”  Divorce Online reported “A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word ‘Facebook’.” Continue reading Social Media Ruined My Marriage!