It Takes 2 to Tango

I’m sure you are all too familiar with the saying it takes 2 to tango.

The tango is a dance which requires two partners moving in relation to each other. The partners sometimes move together and sometimes in opposition, but at any given time they are part of the movement. A tango with only one dancer is no longer a tango.

So, while you are no longer in a romantic relationship with your ex, if you are in a conflict with them, you remain part of the “tango”.

When parents separate, they inevitably remain in a parenting relationship. When this relationship is conflicted, it is worth while to consider what your role in the conflict is. Even if your ex is the unreasonable one, you become part of the conflict, if like the tango, you move with your partner, being together or in opposition.

Conflicts often emerge more when people are stressed and circumstances change.

Staying out of a conflict is much more intricate than ignoring the conflict. Ignoring the conflict could still be seen as taking part in it by being passive aggressive.

Staying out of a conflict requires more understanding on your part about your behaviour rather then your opponent’s behaviour.

So how do you go about understanding your role in your ongoing conflict when you are close to certain, that it’s your “partner” who is at fault.

See how you answer the following questions:

  • Do you recognise that you have to be right for the conflict to end?
  • Are you highly emotional?
  • Do you criticise your ex for what s/he does or how s/he does things?
  • Do you blame your ex for your current situation?
  • Do you complain a lot?
  • Do you nag to get what you want?
  • Do you attempt to punish by withholding things that your ex wants?
  • Do you threaten with legal action?
  • You hang on to telling the same negative story over again?
  • Are you seeking people’s approval to your situation?
  • Are you feeling guilty about what is happening?
  • Are you mostly thinking negatively about your situation?
  • Your self esteem is damaged
  • Have you lost the ability to foresee a bright future and set new goals?

Being in a conflict is never fun and leaves people feeling miserable and a victim of their circumstances. But being in a conflict motivates people to remain negative as conflicts are about being right and not what is right.

When focusing on a solution and adopting a positive approach to the disagreement at hand, people are able to leave the conflict by not feeding it and while you may not be the one creating the conflict, it is important to acknowledge your role in it, in order be able to remove yourself from it.

So take a step back, breathe deep, listen and use your conflict to increase understanding and creative thinking. The conflict is not the conflict. The conflict is how you deal with the conflict.

SADSA can assist you with MEDIATION.

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Swear Jar

Presentation1How many parents will identify they have some variant of a “swear jar” at home?

It’s been recognised by many households to be a way to raise awareness of some bad habits that their children have and a way to modify those bad habits by putting a price on it which makes the child take responsibility for it.

It’s never fun to pay money for something that will show no personal return, that one doesn’t budget for or that is not believed to be a valid investment.

This gave me the idea that this concept should be introduced to parents who are separating in a conflicted manner.

What if every separating family were to have a “conflict jar” managed by their children?

What if for every conflict, every bad mouthing, every show of not taking responsibility, every blackmail, every holding of child support or child visitation, parents would have to pay an amount to the “conflict jar”?

If, as a Parent, you introduce this jar to your children’s upbringing because you want them to be the best person they can be, growing up, wouldn’t be acceptable for your children to introduce such a jar for their parents to be the best parents they can be for their children’s upbringing and childhood memories?

Taking responsibility to remain conflict free for the children’s sake is one of the most trying thing parents face, yet it is the most important thing parents need to have control over if they are truly concerned about what their separation is doing to the children.

Put yourself in your children’s shoes. How do you think they feel when they cannot make their parents change their bad habits?

What would your “conflict jar” look like?

SADSA can assist you with Co-Parenting Coaching or assist you with a Parenting Plan Partner.

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Do Put your Kids in the Middle!

Parents going through a separation are more than familiar about the many reasons why they should not put their children “in the middle” of their separation conflicts.

Putting your children in the middle of your disagreements, threats and blackmail hurt children, and every effort must be made to understand that your divorce/separation is not your children’s divorce/separation.

Putting children outside of your conflicts, though, still leaves your children vulnerable, because, while you are making some real efforts to not bad mouth their other parents in front of them, or argue with their other parent in front of them or even discuss your role and responsibilities in front of them, this means that many a time you will actually, physically, be telling your children to leave the room they are in, to do all of the above. Do you see where I’m getting at?

Keeping your children safe from your conflicts and disagreements goes far beyond not doing all these things in front of your children. Keeping your children safe and sparing your children from the hurt of your separation is actually being able to keep your children in the middle.

You see, children live in the space that is between their parents. What you do with that space will determine the quality of your children’s childhood.

Haven’t you noticed how children love being in the middle of their parents? They love to sleep between their parents, sit between them, walk between them, just be between them all the time. Children feel safe being in the middle …. So next time you are concerned about what your separation is doing to your children and you are making the effort to not put them in the middle, make sure actually that you are keeping them in the middle:

  • Of knowing that the love you have for your children has no conditions.
  • From feeling they have permission to love and be loved by both their parents.
  • From not having to take sides.
  • Knowing that even if they will live in 2 houses it’ll always be their home.
  • From feeling safe just being kids.
  • Of keeping their family intact.

Because children feel safe being in the middle, just keep the middle safe for them!

 

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Father’s day is Children’s day

After a separation, Mother’s day and Father’s day are most likely days that have turned into a power struggle to have the day, or even just some time, spent with the children.

As a great advocate of a Child-Centred divorce, I aim to raise awareness that as the parents and adults in your children’s lives, these type of celebrations need to be seen as further occasions for Role Modelling.

 

  • Remember that your children are dependent on your behaviour to shape themselves into their future adult.
  • Remember that children are dependent on your ability to not talk to them about doing the right things, but showing them how to do the right things.
  • Remember that your children are dependent on you, their parents, to collect happy childhood memories.

If you find yourself, this Father’s day, with some concerns and challenges as to whether your children’s father should be with the children, it is worth evaluating that, although this day celebrates fathers, it is about your children’s time to celebrate the part of them which they connect to their father. It doesn’t matter whether their father is a good or a “bad” dad. Even absent fathers need to be acknowledged, even if it means that they have done only one thing right, and this thing is called giving them life. So, allow your children their right to enjoy BOTH their parents and be allowed to be loved by BOTH their parents.

Fathers have a very important role to play in their children’s lives. Do not rob your children of this privilege.

TODAY, YOU have the power to actively contribute to your children’s happy childhood memory.

Whatever your resistance towards your ex and whatever your conflict, you can eliminate the tension that exists between the two of you by keeping the focus on the children.

Don’t value a legal piece of paper which says otherwise. Value that your children’s family means the freedom to love and be loved by both their parents.

If you are nonetheless struggling with these times and finding that it is about you sharing your children as opposed to your children’s right to have time with both their parents, SADSA can assist you with Co-Parenting Coaching or assist you with a Parenting Plan Partner.

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I just want to be happy

5734bb0bce497f8fabd6af670e0049e9As I assist many people in their journey through their divorce and adjusting to co-parenting, I notice that the focus is very much on acquiring ways TO DO things.

  • How do I co-parent?
  • How do I manage my emotions?
  • How do I handle my ex?
  • How do I protect my children?
  • How do I move on?

Although these are necessary, it still remains within the belief that one can control events or people affecting them or that they are not the cause of their suffering.

Everything relates back to how we wish to be happy. All questions above, are not about acquiring certain skills in dealing with people or situations, they are about, ultimately:

  • Being happy co-parents
  • Feeling happy
  • Having a pleasant relationship with your ex
  • Being assured your children are happy
  • and finding happiness in your new circumstances

Makes sense?

My all time role model, William Glasser, says,  “Happiness, is enjoying the life you are choosing to live, getting along well with the people near and dear to you, doing something with your life you believe is worthwhile, and not doing anything to deprive anyone else of the same chance for happiness you have.”

What resonates most for me here is: ” not doing anything to deprive anyone else of the same chance for happiness you have.”

Too often, I witness people being on a quest of destroying the other person’s chance of being happy, because they are struggling to be happy themselves and believe their happiness is compromised because of the other person’s doing. Truth is, no one can make you happy but you and no one can make you behave in a certain way but you.

Separating parents can engage on a life long quest to destroy each other, because they are not getting what they want from the other person, but in doing so, they are leaving their children hostages to painful childhood memories.

Everyone wants to be happy. Yet most separating parents focus on things which involve controlling their ex’s behaviour to meet their own happiness. Because a divorce is about money and children, these become the source of much conflict and while money is a commodity, children are beings whom, just like their parents, just want to be happy, and happiness cannot be bought!

Parents need money to raise children, and certain things need to be done to make sure this money is available, but mostly, people want to get on with their lives happily and want their children to be happy too.

While in your conflict, do you recognise yourself:

  • Criticising
  • Blaming
  • Complaining
  • Threatening
  • Punishing
  • Bribing

If you think about it. There is no way these behaviours are going to bring you close to feeling happy in any way and mostly, they are not going to get you any closer from the person you seek certain things from.

Instead, practice ‘Being”:

  • Supporting
  • Encouraging
  • Listening
  • Accepting
  • Trusting
  • Respecting
  • Negotiating differences

Recognise that not only do children need both their parents to be happy in their lives, but both parents also need each other to compliment their needs to assure their children’s happiness.

 SADSA can assist you with both Mediation and Parenting Plans.

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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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