Kids First Parents Second Announces our Foster Kid Project

Because a Book is a Powerful thing

September 1st, 2014:

We have decided to create a book for kids involved in the foster/CPS system.  We want to help these kids figure out what exactly is going on when they leave their families and enter the state foster/cps system.  It is frustrating to understand WHY this book has never been written.

Kids FIrst Parents Second believes that a book can be a powerful thing.  It is our thought that we should get some help so we are making the following invite:

For Kids who are or have been involved in the CPS system we want pictures, we want letters, we want drawings.  I’m hoping these come to us and will help us help kids in need.  We are hoping to incorporate the work the kids do into our book.

Contact us at kidsfirstparentssecond.org and send us your contribution! 

Matt and Becky Sossi

Helping kids in blended families

I just made tomato sauce tonight by blending tomatoes with red peppers.  I placed my ingredients in the blender, put the mixer on and presto change, I had my tomato sauce.  The blender acted like a smart button, a quick fix.

If we were going to describe how to make a blended family, I would suggest that its better to stir and not try for a quick fix by blending the various brother’s, step-sisters, step brother’s together.  In fact, blending a “family” might just be in a recipe for disaster.

The statistics sadly establish that divorce rates for second or third marriages being substantially higher than for first marriages.  It tells me that parent’s need a better understanding of exactly what awaits them when families attempt to blend.  So taking your fiancée’s kids out to the movies a few times might not be the “bonding” experience you need prior to walking down the aisle.

Adam Sandler’s Movie about blended families was met with harsh criticism.  Why? Because it was unrealistic or because it struck a nerve?  At least throughout the movie the character’s made sure to learn to identify with their sweetheart’s kids and relate to them.  The characters in the movie found ways to support each other and create a family structure.  So for 2 hours you spent at the movies, you learned a few things about how complicated and time consuming it takes to blend a new family structure.

So parent’s, perhaps the best thing to do is to find activities that help your kids n stepkids bond. 

If your kids like to cook make a cake, get all the kids involved by bringing eggs, sugar or cake mix to the table.  Baking a cake may make everyone understand ingredients work together and create something wonderful. 

Maybe if the kids like sports you playing together on a team, so all the kids know to support each other and work together towards a common goal.

Kids will need help dealing with how they will share the time they had with their parent, and in how they are to interact with their new step brother’s and step sisters.   Counseling may be the best way to help figure out the nuances of your new family structure.

If you understand the difficulties that lay ahead, you will have at least educated yourself to what lies ahead.  So start stirring and take time to create your new family!

 

 

 

 

Son, you’re going to divorce camp – Say What?

When a parent or loved one dies, bereavement camps are in place to help children cope and adjust to their new life.  The children that attend these camps have faced with a life altering event, one in which they can not explain or comprehend. 

Bereavement camps are exceptionally skilled at helping kids through the grief process. Kids going to bereavement camps find themselves interacting with other kids/building support groups (they are not the only ones going through this).  The activities at the camps activities that help, empower these kids.  Kids are provided outlets that allow them to handle their emotions.

Some of the activities are as simple as letting them run across a field, yelling and screaming.  Some of the activities are team oriented, with group members helping others pass through certain tasks.

These kids finish camp arguably better than when they started. Many finds new friendships with others in their situations  They have found new resources to help them cope with their situation. 

Divorce, like death, is a life altering event for a child.  A camp designed to help kids with their parents divorce seems to be an idea with tremendous potential benefit.   A divorce camp could leave kids of divorce better focused and balanced.  A divorce camp would tell these kids that they are not alone, and that life will continue onward. 

A divorce camp would contain activities that would allow the children to best express themselves.  A divorce camp would find ways to empower kids so they know that, through the pain of divorce, A divorce camp’s mission would make sure that children feel important and teach them that they can perservere with the challenges they are facing.

It may not be time to send our kids away to divorce camp.  That is not the purpose of my blog.  I believe that it Is time to talk about ways we better divorced kids lives.  Right?

Matt Sossi 

P.S.  I do not equate the permanent loss of a parent/loved one to divorce. 

What would your child want from the Great Oz?

We all remember the Wizard of Oz and the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion. These main characters all looked forward for the day when they would go in front of the Great Oz and be given things they were missing in their life.  For the Scarecrow, he went before the Great Oz to obtain a brain, For the Tin man, a heart, and for the Cowardly lion, courage.  The three characters thought they were lost until they were given these gifts.

In reading the story, we knew these main characters were not lacking or in need of the things they sought.  We all know that the scare crow had a brain all through out the story.  The scarecrow figured out how his friends would get out of danger.  The scare crow walked, talked and danced and tall the way along the yellow brick road with Dorothy and the gang, all things that require a fine functioning brain.  The tin man likewise had soul and had heart well before meeting the Great Oz. The cowardly lion figured out well before meeting the Great Oz how to overcome his fears and be the bravest of them all.

Kids of divorce will feel that they are missing something in their life.  For some, it will be how to be brave, for other’s it will be how to not feel lost.  All of these children will need to figure out how to handle their new surroundings, their new environment.  These children will not know, just like our characters in the Wizard of Oz, that they have skills and tools necessary to survive and cope with their parents’ divorce.

So use the Wizard of Oz as a way to discuss divorce at your kids workshops.  Help them understand that they are not lost, and that they have the necessary tools/skills to handle the life ahead.  

 

Matt Sossi

 

 

 

Helpful Software and Systems – Excerpt – A-Z Guide to Cooperative Parenting

 

“Family Wizard”

In this book I addressed techniques which help limit your interaction with your ex while promoting neutral forums to exchange information concerning the child.  The Family Wizard software program provides an effective manner and means by which you can communicate with someone you chose to divorce.   Family Wizard works similarly to some of the functions you may already know that are contained in Microsoft Office.

You and your ex simply open an account, share information and communicate through a Family Wizard portal on all matters concerning your child.  Family Wizard will help you post important events on your joint calendar as to sporting events or medical appointments for your child.   Your ex is notified of your entries and is able to log on without the need for further interaction.  Family Wizard is not free but is a service that is provided at relatively low cost.   Make sure when you create your account that you also receive The Family Wizard app that is available for smart phones.

 

 

 

I also wanted to make you aware of applications that help a parent interact with their child when they are not physically inside their own home.  It is my hope that these advances in technology will further limit conflict between parties as they now provide direct means of communication between children and parent’s.  My favorites: 

Chatty Kidz

Chatty Kidz is an app that originally was designed that allows Grandparent’s the ability read to their young grandchildren wherever they may be.  Chatty Kidz was in fact created so grandparents could help keep their grandchildren’s attention while their parent’s cooked dinner or attended to other house duties.

Chatty Kidz is simply fantastic for divorce parents who want to have frequent and constant interaction with their young children.  With the Chatty Kidz app you have the ability to read a book with your child on line, and the child will be able to follow you, and your child will read on as you turn the book page by page.  The child clearly benefits from having a continued relationship with both parent’s wherever they actually physically may be.  The child will undoubtedly have less stress of wondering when dad will be seeing them when they can go on line and have Dad read them a book. 

Microsoft One Note

Microsoft One Note allows for people to work on a project together regardless of their location.   One such project that can be worked on with Microsoft one note would be a child’s homework assignment.  One obvious benefit to having Microsoft one at both parent’s homes is that the party in possession of the child may be busy with other duties and need help in assisting this particular child with their homework project.  The other benefit is that it allows a parent the ability to interact with their child when it is not otherwise their respective periods of possession. 

Xbox One/Skype/SkyDrive

Xbox one delivers the perfect forum from which you can communicate with your child via Skype when they are away from your home.  With the new gaming consul, Microsoft is allowing you the capability of playing with your child on-line while skyping with him at the same time.  The Kinect vision feature of Xbox one consul also allows you to follow a moving child as they move across the room while they are talking with you.    

You can also install SkyDrive on your Xbox which will allow you to share photos and music with your children.  SkyDrive allows you to share documents from one house to another which is helpful in situations when your child forgets to bring their homework\project to your house for the weekend.   The Xbox one, intentionally or not, has created a perfect forum for you to interact with your children when they are away from home.

Matt Sossi

Zero in on the issues that truly matter: An A-Z Guide to Cooperative Parenting

Zero in on the issues that truly matter

It is a guarantee that many people involved in a divorce will feel overwhelmed and emotionally incapacitated.  It is important to realize that many people continue to feel lost for a considerable time period after their divorce.  Zeroing in on important aspects of your children’s life and sharing those concerns with your ex should, hopefully, direct both you and your ex to begin to get on a path to work in your child’s best interest.

Your actions day to day will create your new reality.  If I want to lose weight, for example, I need to put down the donuts each day and spend more time at the gym.  The same process works when you first got divorced and are trying to determine your best course of action.  The process is not automatic, it takes time and it will take repeated efforts to get you the goals you truly wish to achieve. 

          Focus on what your children need and chart a course that ensures them success.  Attempt to get your ex on the same page and get them to see the logic of the path you want your child to take.  If your ex excelled in math, it may be a great idea to get your ex into the notion that it is a great thing that your child takes PRE-AP and AP classes in math, even if it means that both of you will have to sacrifice your own personal free time to help the child focus on their studies.  If your ex excelled in sports, it will be a great idea for you and your ex to plan out a schedule ensuring the child is going to practices and games.  If the child is isolated, emotionally immature, and needs more exposure to other children, it would be a great idea to suggest to the ex ways in which the child can attend activities that will allow he or she to appropriately bond with their peers.

Ask your ex to talk to teachers, counselors, or any other third person to understand your child’s exact needs. Sell your ex on the notion that you are here to promote the child’s needs and successes. If you can find that level of commitment between you and your ex, you will find success because you have changed the focus from that of your failed relationship to that of promoting your child’s wellbeing.    

 I have yet to hear a parent say that they do not love their child, or that they would want to see the child harmed in any way.  I have yet to see a parent say that they would not do what needs to be done to take ensure the child’s needs are being taken care of.  Every parent I know would sacrifice most, if not all, to accomplish this feat.  By zeroing in on the child’s needs and sharing that concern with your ex, you can create a new reality in which both of you are working toward a common path.

Learning the skills you will need on a daily basis to have a healthy coexistence with your ex will ultimately be trial by fire.  You will have your good days and bad and there will be times when you think you are in an impossible situation.   It truly will take the very best effort that both you and your ex have to communicate with one another.  Some people use a neutral friend, acquaintance or relative to broker peaceful communication.  Some people use therapists who are trained in giving you the tools necessary to interact with one another.

Understand that your ex’s fear and distrust will blind them in the way they interact with you.  This fear and distrust diminishes the ability to help the child and will heighten your conflict.  Get your ex to focus on the things that are most important to the both of you, your children.

 

Matt Sossi    

Your Children Need to See that you Can Resolve Conflict: An Excerpt from the A-Z Guide to Cooperative Parenting

Chapter Twenty-five: Your Children Need to see that You can Resolve Conflict

When we age, we reflect on our lives, and we pay special attention to what our parents taught us. We look to our parents to teach us basic life skills, how we should approach the world. Parents try, from day one, to teach children to live happy and healthy lives.

Regardless of the positive teachings we try to impart on our children, we also pass on our imperfections and our weaknesses or, as I like to say, our dysfunctional behaviors. Those exact dysfunctional habits are what our children, for some reason, gravitate toward. Therefore, it’s time to stop acting badly and time to start teaching your children better ways to solve problems.

You are engaging in dysfunctional behavior after your divorce if:

  1. You are fighting with your ex in front of your children;
  2. You are disparaging your ex in front of your children;
  3. You are telling your children about legal proceedings;
  4. You are telling your children about child support payments;
  5. You are telling your children that they do not have to visit their other parent if they do not wish to; or
  6. You hate your ex more than you love your children.

Be careful what you are teaching your children. Do you want your children to go through their own divorce? Do you want your children to live in a situation where they have continued conflict with their ex?

Your children can only learn from your dysfunctional behavior. Some of your children will believe that they should live with conflict. Some of your children will gravitate to relationships more contentious than the one you had. Those relationships may be emotionally or physically abusive. Any way you cut it, your children will suffer from your inability to communicate effectively with your ex.

Avoid conflict with your ex as much as you possibly can.  Be flexible, negotiate and see if you and your ex can focus on your children’s needs. Remember that conflict between parent’s can only hurt your children.

It may be impossible for you to avoid conflict.  It also may be impossible to keep your children away from the conflict you have with your ex.  When you are faced with conflict try to be the bigger person and show your children how to handle adversity.

Matt Sossi