From Problem to Solution

we-cannot-solve-our-problems-with-the-same-level-of-thinking-that-created-themWhen separated Parents are in conflict, it is because the focus is directed at the problem, but the more the focus is on the problem, the less likely is there room to find a solution.

Problems, though, can often seem to be unresolvable. This will lead to a loss of hope, feeling victimised and eventually a bitterness which will become the default grounds for future decisions and opinions.

One important thing which needs to be acknowledged is that there are no problems without a solution. However deep your problem may seem, start reassuring yourself that a solution does exist.

So how do you move your focus from being on the problem to being on the solution? Here are a few simple tips to help you reverse a problem into a solution.

  • What is the problem?
    • Stop blaming each other and define the problem clearly. If you can’t agree on the problem, you can’t agree on a solution.
    • Understand what causes the problem.
    • Clarify what effect does the problem have?
  • What do you want instead?
    • Establish an objective. Express what you want, NOT what you don’t want.
  • What should be done in order to achieve this?
    • Clarify which behaviour you need to change in order to achieve your objective.
    • What means do you have available to achieve your objective?
    • What result would conclude that a solution has been achieved?
  • Stay on track
    • Evaluate your progress. Look back at where you started and where you are now.
    • Support each other with the progress achieved. You both know how important it is for you to keep your objective. Supporting each other will help you stay positive and avoid reverting back to the initial problem.

If you are struggling with finding a solution to your problem, it is advisable to seek Mediation. MEDIATION is a sensible solution to any emotional decisions.

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Transforming Divorce

According to History.com, on January 5, 1643, in the first recordherd-cliff of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony’s founder, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two children, for another woman, with whom he had another two children. He also stated his refusal to return to his original wife, thus giving the Puritan court no option but to punish Clarke and grant a divorce to his wife, Anne. The Quarter Court’s final decision read: “Anne Clarke, beeing deserted by Denis Clarke hir husband, and hee refusing to accompany with hir, she is graunted to bee divorced.”

The History of Divorces across time and around the world relate similar stories of legal and complicated issues, whether one is eligible for divorce, and include today’s challenges around spousal, child support and wife returning to her maiden name.

Time has though seen changes in legalisation and new approved legislations and are recognised for widespread reasons.

Divorce though is still very much  traumatic event whereby people have to engage in a legal process for an emotional decision.

Awareness needs to be raised that such an emotional decision needs to be addressed emotionally first before the legal dissolution can be approached. So while most people are still engaging in this life changing event in a very conflicted manner, options and resources are now available to facilitate divorces in a much more caring manner, focusing on solutions and healing.

People wanting to divorce have a choice and can veer away from the all too common “bad divorce” scenario in favour to a divorce process which will actually address the needs of a changing family. MEDIATION offers an alternative as a sensible solution to their emotional decision.

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How to care for children during divorce

sadchildneedingcomfortParents going through a divorce/separation are mostly always concerned about what it is going to do to the children and how to minimise the impact it will have on them.

If you want to minimise the negative impact of your relationship breakup on your children, you must first take care of yourself.

When going onto a plane, we are always given some safety instructions at first and one of them, in case of cabin de-pressurisation, is to first put on the oxygen mask yourself and then help the person next to you, because in all logic, if you are wanting to help someone else but you are not getting the oxygen yourself, you will struggle and possibly not even be able to help the person next to you. You will end up being the one needing help.

Same goes with a relationship breakup. Such an event brings a lot of emotions. Emotions which you may not have been prepared to deal with. Without taking care of yourself first, you will not be a prepared parent to assist your children. Many parents send their children to therapists at this time of high stress, and it is an avenue that is wise to take when you recognise some symptoms which you don’t know how to handle, but truth is, your children need their parents first and foremost at this critical point in their life. Not a stranger. So in order to properly be there for your children and take care of them during and after the divorce/separation, first you must take care of yourself.

Here are some recommended steps, specifics for parents going through a divorce.

Divorce & Co-Parenting Coaching is highly recommended for parents concerned about their children’s well-being at this challenging time in their lives. It will allow you to make sense and process your emotions and receive help to help your children.

Once you have your “oxygen mask” on, i.e, you are working through your own emotions, engaging into Mediation is the best way forward in finalising the details of your ending relationship while keeping an amicable environment for your children. If you think going to court and fighting a legal dispute is scary, imagine how your children must feel!

Equip yourselves with a good parenting plan. There is only so much that one can think of and manage by themselves. A Parenting Plan will assist you to have an overview of what your children need and how it can fit with your needs, now that you have two households to consider.

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Parenting Plan Partner

imagesUsing a Parenting Plan as part of your lifestyle change, ought to be seen and welcomed as a managing tool.

Just like a Personal Assistant will assist a Director in his/her daily tasks, appointments and travel needs, a Parenting Plan is similar in that it helps coordinate the needs of a changing family.

The norm is that parents enter into a Parenting Plan as part of a divorce decree, but Parenting Plans should be engaged in on a yearly basis. Whether as per calendar year or school year, but definitely yearly to review the required changes by acknowledging that updates in the Parenting Plan are part of your life.

Being a parent, means among other things, being flexible, adaptable and ready for change, because that’s what it means to have children.

You can’t plan birthday parties, sleep overs, being sick, having a row with a friend, given detention (yeah, this may happen), given too much homework (that will definitely happen), finding out that a project is due tomorrow (Oh, pls no!!!). Do you get my point? Children, although fully dependent on their parents have a life of their own. When they are young though, this means needing mom/dad a lot.

So a Parenting Plan sets the tone for planning around major dates, events and holidays, it is impossible to have a Parenting Plan which can be interpreted as set in stone, yet many parents react to it this way.

Co-Parents need to use a Parenting Plan, just like the Director needs a PA, to keep track, organise and adjust needs of all parties concerned to minimise the chaos of a family who is no longer under one roof.

SADSA, which strives in being solution focus, has designed a Parenting Plan Partner model which understands the needs of a changing family and aims to raise awareness of the need of such an approach.

So if you are separated parents, do yourself a favour, get a Parenting Plan Partner to re-evaluate your changing needs on a year to year basis. Should a conflict arise during that year, then call a Parenting Plan Mediation meeting for the pressing matters needing resolution. It doesn’t mean you are bad parents. It means you are parents with much on your plate and there is only so much one can manage on their own.

With SADSA as a Parenting Plan Partner, we aim to guide parents to shift their focus from a Parenting Plan to making Plans being Parents, because Love is not court ordered.

For more info you can check the Parenting Plan Partner page HERE, or CONTACT us with your query.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mothehappy-mothers-day-2013-Typography copyr’s day!

Mother’s Day, around the world, although having varying meanings in different context whether celebrated religiously, historically or legendarily, in these modern days it is mostly about celebrating the mother of the family, motherhood and the influence of mothers in society.

When parents are separated, this day can be marked with a conflict of interest when parents share their children within two homes and Mother’s day falls out of the routine custody agreement. Some parenting plans make an effort to plan a year ahead to cover these kind of special days, but because having children means first and foremost being able to change and adapt one’s agenda ongoingly, there is no guarantee that Mother’s day is going to be met free of re-arrangement around the children.

For separated parents, marking these specials days are beyond just a celebration. It is about handing over a legacy of family traditions to your children. Some people may not be holding much importance for such events and others do. These kind of differences can be felt with more impact when two parents have different opinions about dates which are celebrated.

So how do you deal with it and what does it mean really?

First of all it’s about what your values are, secondly, it’s about creating childhood memories for your children.

If you are a co-parent who has the children the weekend of Mother’s day, don’t make it about giving up your time with your kids, make it about handing down role modelling the value of respecting each other and about contributing to your children’s childhood memories.

In other words, looking back on this, how would you want your children to walk away remembering this day in their childhood? As a time when their parents fought “childishly” about whose weekend it was or acquire the message that it’s okay to not value doing something special for someone else? Would you want them to remember parents who are at grip with each other over let them cherish a memory of a fun day with the “Parent of the day”?

If you are facing conflicts around making such decisions, you are still hostage to your emotional breakup and will therefore make decisions based on your current state of mind, which is hurt translated into anger. Likewise, you are raising children in an environment filled with stress, robing them of a childhood free from, blame, criticism, punishment, threats and complaints.

Whatever type of parents you are, remember that without parents, there would be no children. That alone is worth celebrating, wouldn’t you say?

The Law doesn’t raise children, Parents do!

 

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Divorce, Money and Children

hands-exchanging-moneyIt is understandable that parents who are separating, need to address the way forward in raising their children from one household to two different households and to agree on each parents’ time and means to do so.

Drawing a parenting plan and maintenance agreement assist parents to work around their life’s schedules and their children’s needs, so that there is a minimum of disruption for the children and that both parents be least inconvenienced by the inevitable changes. In other words, it assists to find a solution to the changing rhythm of a changing family.

A parenting plan and maintenance agreement is therefor NOT intended to create conflict, corner a parent financially or use the children as a bargaining tool to get one’s own way, yet when it comes to it, communication can become very aggressive and controlling.

Money is obviously a big concern in a separation, especially when there is not enough of it, however, in many cases, not enough is more an excuse for revenge, than a concern for how parents are going to keep caring for their children.

That being said, children’s maintenance come at a cost which usually remains fairly unchanged with a divorce. Kids were going to school before. Ate before. Went to extra murals and needed clothes. Caring for children separately is no different than caring for them together.

Would you consider in any way arguing or relinquishing responsibility towards “maintaining” and contributing to your children’s Manners, Values, Respect, Character, Trust, Integrity or Love?

Your separation is the end of your relationship with your partner/wife/husband. It is not the end of you being a parent or the end of a relationship the children need to keep with both their parents.

So while maintenance becomes grounds for conflict, your children are left vulnerable to parents who are distracted from their focus of caring for their children.

A Parenting Plan is not as important as Planning to be Parents!

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Life Style Change

imagesOvercoming a divorce/separation can be a challenging process.

People struggle with coming to terms with what they are loosing, but some, then replace this loss with all the things they feel they are gaining from this life transition.

What is interesting is that, however much that loosing something is a feeling which leaves one feeling like they are missing out on something that could have been or that is no longer, gaining something is often associated with a feeling that they are fooling themselves and forcing themselves to believe that this is actually what they want.

Truth is, neither is properly correct. You require a balanced frame of mind to achieve moving on.

These days, people separate much more easily, yet separations remain as ugly as ever. Surely we should learn something new on how to approach this decision in a better, healthier manner.

A divorce/separation is not a breakup point in one’s life but a change of direction. Just like going on diet, people realise they need to do something to better their life. Until they understand and accept that it’s not about loosing weight and going on a diet, but about changing their lifestyle, the struggle is going to remain with them through the ups and downs of loosing weight, gaining it back on and so forth. For a separation, the struggle is similar. The ups and downs are going to remain with you whenever you go down memory lane. The losses, the gains will keep feeding dissatisfaction, remorse, guilt, until you understand and establish that your divorce is not a loss or a gain. It is a solution which requires a positive lifestyle change.

Embracing a lifestyle change is to be experience on many levels. Again, just like a diet, you need to address what you need to do to make these changes for the better.

Relationships, like bad diets, often find people having lost their sense of self and stuck in bad habits. How was your relationship feeding your varied needs? These needs, need to be re-evaluated for you to be moving forward.

Here are a few steps to successfully engage in your lifestyle change.

  • Be reasonable -Do not compensate your losses with gains. Some losses will not be replaced, and that is ok.
  • Have balance – Be aware of your emotions. Emotions are normal but if you let them tip at one end of the spectrum, you will struggle with managing them.
  • You are in competition with no one – There will always be people with opinions and with opposing opinions. Don’t mind anyone. Just aim to be better than you were before, for yourself.
  • Be in control – Establish what it is that you can and cannot control.
  • Understand your needs – We all have needs. Needs for Survival/ Fun/ Love & Belonging/ Power/ Freedom. Your needs, need to be satisfied.
  • Know what you want – Focus on what you want and NOT on what you don’t want.
  • Commit – If you want something to change, you will have to commit to make it happen. It’s not going to happen for you. You need to make it happen.
  • It’s not the end of your life – Acknowledge this. Yes your separation is painful, but it is not the end. Staying stuck in a bad divorce is no better than being in a bad marriage. Surely you are keen to explore what your life could be like when choose to be happy.

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Parental Alienation

downloadParental Alienation is a term which has become synonym with acrimonious divorces and  seems to become an increasing and concerning problem.

Angry parents, through the power of manipulation and control, turn their child/ren against their other parent in a manner that it looks like it is the child/ren’s choice to cut all ties with that one parent.

It is particularly destructive to the child/ren who are acting under total trust of the toxic parent and when, eventually, mature enough to start questioning why they are disconnected from that one parent, they will read into the manipulations of the “loved” parent at a cost of now possibly damaging that relationship too.

There is no denying that some separations are particularly hurtful and  hard to overcome, but nothing, apart for the obvious sexual abuse or criminal behaviour by a parent, accounts for a parent to set the children up as a means to gratify their hurt and anger.

Some call it a criminal act, others children abuse and others a mental disorder. Regardless of the label it holds, the bottom line is, it is seriously hurting children and robbing them of a childhood in which they should have enjoyed a relationship with both their parents.

The law seems to be powerless against this situation or ill manages it, which further tears down any chances for that family to heal.

There is unfortunately presently no clear solution or remedy, but what is evident is that separating parents who find themselves overwhelmed with negative feelings need to prioritise their emotional state with the wellbeing of their children in mind.

People overwhelmed by their feelings, who are left unsupported or ill advised in this life changing transition will struggle to move forward and resort to hurtful behaviour.

In some countries, like the USA, divorcing parents are mandated to take a parenting class prior to their divorce and have to Mediate before they choose to Litigate. It may not be the solution for all, as Parental Alienation is still thrive in the USA too, despite these measures, but understanding that this is, first and foremost, an emotional process which needs to be given necessary attention before the legal divorce is tackled.

Also, the targeted parent needs to take responsibility for their role in the conflict and how they are feeding it. When at a loss it is understandable that being the recipient of such vile anger will trigger an equal aggressive reaction, but if anything needs to be learned from this cycle of conflict, is that no conflict ever get resolved by throwing more fuel onto the fire. Understanding the level and origin of anger of your ex is important to tone down the conflict and offer an alternative to save the children from a childhood which will permanently wound them.

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The wounded parent

FImage result for woundednessor most parents, seeing their children happy is a priority. They want what is best for them and be part of their lives as much as possible.

A separation can of course challenge this because, not only will parents feel guilty, but also with children sharing their times with both their parents may leave some parents feeling like they are missing out or that their children are actually missing out on spending more time with them.

The need to control someone else’s happiness comes from lacking the ability to make oneself happy.

We obviously all have past and present wounds to deal with. Some bigger than others. Our wounds though are not measured by the depth of the wound itself, but by the ability of the individual to overcome the state of the wound.

While many have learned to overcome past traumas, being physical, psychological or emotional, for the parents who lack the ability to do so, their whole life will remain a struggle with stress and riddled with anxiety. Those parents will more likely be absent parents, not necessarily because they are not there physically, but absent in their ignorance to be good parents. They cannot be properly present when their life is a continued response to their own wounds and remain the victims to those wounds.

Wounded Parents have little or no self-esteem; a deep, penetrating sadness and problems bonding with others.

The wounded parent is not a bad parent, but s/he is a parent who needs to heal. They mean well. They know better but struggle to be properly responsible adults.

The wounded parent, therefor, needs to learn to recognise when they respond to their wounds and learn how to calm themselves down and get the “Adult” back in charge. In this process they must learn how to manage their past wounds by:

  • Recognising and acknowledging their wound
  • Take it seriously. Yes. Whatever caused them to be a wounded adult was serious and the wound is serious too.
  • Accept the painful past. What was done cannot be undone.
  • Confront their un-met needs. Today they have the opportunity to claim what it is that they need and want
  • Own their current responsibility as a parent, now and in the future.

When communication is tough

In most conflicts, parents will say how they wish for their situation to go right and how they wish their co-parent could be cooperative yet, their communication of choice is mostly complaining, criticising and threatening.

Right now you are feeling hurt, betrayed and angry. For you, to feel that you are getting control back over your life, you want justice and things to go your way. You are determined that no one will ever hurt you or your children again and moving forward in your life is about claiming your power back.

Making decisions under emotional torment will however come at a cost. To free yourself from someone’s control is not going to be accomplished with you trying to control them or the situation. You cannot control anyone or anything but you. Engaging on a vengeful path to show you have control is wasting precious time of your life and therefore your children’s life.

So how do you gain control and make peace with your “enemy”?

Having a negatively emotionally charged relationship with someone is recipe for conflict and if you are finding yourself in conflict with your children’s other parent you can understand that this is what it is. It is a negatively emotionally charged relationship and nothing good will ever come of it.

Instead, begin by treating this relationship as if it were a business relationship. This may sound odd at first, but give it some thought.

  1. Business has no emotions. Let’s face it, you think with your emotions whether you like it or not. Emotions don’t mix well with business because they cause you to do whatever will fix your hurt feelings, instead of whatever is best for the business.
    • Choose to communicate with maturity
    • Stay focused on the business, nothing else
    • Train yourself to make decisions based on logic and self discipline over passion and emotions
  2. Business is about Partners with roles and responsibilities
    • You need to define your roles and responsibilities clearly and agreeably
    • Remember, it is business. There are no emotions. Only exchanging information about your mutual roles and responsibilities.
  3. Business is about agreeing and sharing a common pay off.
    • In this instance, it is the children’s best interest
    • Stay focused. Remember what your pay off is and keep your business partnership moving toward that goal even in chaotic times

Emotions have no place in business, unless you do business with them. Friedrich Durrenmatt