Garon: 8 Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Winter break can be one of the most difficult times for both children and parents to cope with divorce.  We see Christmas and New Years cheer and celebration everywhere as we are dealing with our own internal and external stressors that make the mere sight of such images so painful.  However, we must dedicate all of our strength to keep this period of time as happy and stable as possible for our children.

Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker, collaborative law mental health professional, and Executive Director of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc., provides tips for co-parenting during the holidays:

  1. What can you as a parent handle? Be honest with yourself and how you feel.
  2. Be honest with your children about your limitations and what you can handle. Approach them in a way that doesn’t burden them with your feelings. Ask them what would help them during the holidays.
  3. Recognize that rituals are symbolic and often treasured by children and adults. If possible, try to have some of your family’s traditional rituals and include your children in creating new ones. Read more

How Do I Discuss My Divorce With My Child?

Once a couple makes the decision to separate or divorce, one of the most difficult steps will be to discuss this decision with a child.  Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker, certified mediator, and Executive Director of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc., provides the following advice regarding how to discuss an impending separation or divorce with a child:

1. Before you tell the children, speak to your spouse and decide what you will tell the children. Both parents should have the opportunity to speak.

2. Say what you think will be most helpful to them. Many parents want to tell exactly what happened in their adult relationship to their children. Parents can explain to their children how what they want to tell them will help them in understanding the separation.

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Special Needs Children and Divorce

California family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer recently discussed particular issues that arise in divorce cases involving special needs children:

A parenting plan for the typical child may not be appropriate for an autistic child or one with other developmental issues. For example, it’s not unusual for the typical 3 year-old child to be able to have overnight stays with the non-custodial parent. She can understand the concept of time and that she will see her other parent again. The special-needs child often has difficulty with transitions, she is comforted by the familiar and doesn’t like changes in environment. Likewise, she may not be unable to express herself verbally nor to understand abstract concepts like time. Custody and visitation decisions for a special-needs child must take into account many issues like these.

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Helping Kids Cope With Divorce

School counselor Leslie King and teacher Daryl Sollerh offer some tips at the Huffington Post on how to help children cope with their parents’ divorce:

First, let’s face it: No one is a saint. No one is immune to the pain, challenges and uncertainties a separation or divorce can visit on a family — especially not children.

So even though mom and dad may be moving through some of the most potentially stressful and sad periods of their own life, they still are somebody’s mom or dad, and must try to find a way to help their child, even if they themselves feel as if they are not getting much help from friends or the world.

Should your child rage, do your best not to take it personally, even when it is directed at you. Try to give yourself the space and time to recognize that they too need to vent their feelings, especially the most gut-wrenching ones. It is better that they release the feelings inside them as best they can, instead of bottling them up, which could prove far more damaging in the long run.

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