I am a Grandparent and I am Awesome!

From the pages of Transitions Magazine

Grandparents have the power to help parents focus and be more resilient during the divorce process.  The tale of two grandparents shows how acts of kindness OR control can set the tone for how parents interact with one another.

THE TALE OF TWO GRANDPARENTS

I.

The Tale of the Over Protective Grandmother

 “I am taking my daughters side in this, no matter what.”  One Grandma exclaimed.  Her daughter Jodie had really gone through a lot with her husband John and it was finally time for all this nonsense to end.  Grandma saw the divorce as a time to get even with John for all the things he did against her family during his marriage to Jodie. “John does not need to see the kids until court” Grandma told Jodie “It’s better for them to start to move on with their life.”

Divorce was not something that Grandma was used to.  She and her husband had been married together for over three decades.  No one in her family had been divorced before.  Grandma thought little of John and was embarrassed that he had ever been in her family.

Grandma took her daughter to the law offices of a few attorneys she knew who were part of her congregation.  Grandma provided the retainer for the lawyer and gave him instructions on how she wanted her daughter’s divorce to proceed.

John was not allowed to either call or see his children until he obtained an attorney.   John found an attorney to fight for his rights.

II.

The New Age Grandfather

“Don’t think I’m taking sides between you two.”  Grandpa said.  “I’m here to make sure my grandkids are going to be okay and that’s it. John, when you are coming to town to visit you’re going to stay at my house and visit the kids.  It doesn’t make any sense for you to pay for a hotel when you have that child support obligation to pay.” Grandpa kept on, “Jodie if John’s over here I don’t want to hear you to arguing with one another, the kids do not hear all that.”  Grandpa continued “John, why aren’t you calling your kids during the week anyway?”

III.

The Power of a Grandparent

 Grandparents set a powerful tone for parents of divorce, especially when they are young parents.   Given the two tales presented, what type of Grandparent do you want to be?

Recommended Checklist for Grandparents

___           Take your grandchildren out for a night out.  Help them understand your role is to listen to their needs and not judge either parent.  Make sure to engage with them OUTSIDE the presence of their parents.

___           Call the other set of grandparents.  Help them understand you are here to solve problems not create them.  If you have pictures of your grandchildren NOW is a good time to share them.

___         Listen to both parents and try to understand where they are coming from.  What are their wants and needs?

____        Show the parents ways to problem solve through their issues.  Move the parents away from civil litigation, if at all possible.

____        Make sure to invite EITHER parent to sit with you during any activities that the child is involved in.  See your grandchild’s face when you are all sitting down together and supporting them.

____        I am a Grandparent and I am awesome!

Transition Magazine – Lets Go!

“Your never going to grow if you don’t go outside your comfort level.”  We took this saying to heart when Kids First Parents Second went and started developing a digital magazine to help parents transition through the divorce process.

Why call the magazine  “Transition?”  One basic reason, resiliency.  A person who is able to transition is able to be resilient and adapt to life’s changes.  We want divorcing families to be resilient.  We want parents to learn more effective ways of communicating with one another.  We want children to have RESOURCES to help them cope with the divorce.

When we created the magazine we did not want to be limited to just helping families of divorce.  “Transitions” will be a resource to help people become resilient in the face of great challenges.

We weren’t shy in asking professionals for help.  We have writers from Seattle, New York, New Jersey, Boston, Miami, Houston and Dallas.  We have writers from both the U.S. and the U.K..

There’s so much more to do.  If a magazine can affect change than lets go and start.  Thank you for reading and we hope you’ll be excited as we are about where this is headed.

 

Matt Sossi

TRANSITIONS

THE NEED FOR TRANSITION

          Spouses who divorce without children have the option of simply “closing the door” ending their relationship and moving forward.   Terminating the relationship with an ex spouse is not a viable option for a husband or wife who is also the parent of a child.  Parents must transition from the relationship they shared as a spouse to the relationship they will have to maintain for the benefit of their children.

The divorce process may very well dictate how these parents will interact with one another, now and in the future.  So do parents us civil litigation or collaborative process to resolve their divorce case? Parents have to immediately decide if they want to allow the divorce process to be used to solve their problems OR to use civil litigation approach and use the divorce process as Round One in a boxing match.

Choosing between civil litigation OR collaborative approach may just be the most important factor that will decides how parents are going to engage each other in the future.   Parties to a divorce have to stop, think and remember that they were parents of these children way before they ever thought they would be litigants.   Parents problem solve, litigants do not. Litigants address issues and ask for relief through an adversarial system.

 

Parents NEVER EVER start out and teach their children to fight their way out of a problem.  Parents teach their child to problem solve.  Parents teach their children to ask for help from others.  Parents look at ways to help that child reduce the problem before things got out of control.  Parents instruct their children in this fashion because they want to remove their child from the potential harm caused by conflict.  Parents are simply intelligent enough, resilient enough, to know how to get the child through difficulty.

Parents must remember to practice what they preach during the divorce process.     Applying collaborative techniques in a divorce helps parent’s problem solve and, if need be, work with professionals who have insight on how to help resolve conflict. Collaboration creates an environment where each parent feels that they have an equal say in how their child is going to being raised.   Success or fail, the collaborative experience plants a “seed” inside the mind of each parent,  giving them a powerful tool that they can use in the future to help minimize conflict.

So the divorce is not the end that “closes a door”to an old relationship.  Divorce is merely a transition, a stage that will define how parents will engage one another in the future.  Failing to see the divorce process as a transition period means will mean that parents lost a valuable opportunity to develop a plan of action that will assist their “divorced family” for years to come.

 

KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND

Avoiding a Shock and Awe Campaign

In San Antonio, Texas a teenage child died recently because of his classmates were tormenting him on social media.  As a society we felt sorry for the boy and his family.  We struggle to understand how this could happen and what can be done about it.  We struggle to implement a plan of action against a silent and anonymous enemy.

The first thought is to act in anger and lash out against these bullies.  A shock and awe campaign, scaring the bullies into submission.  A quick fix, a reign of terror, where we round up these “bad kids” and scare the rest into submission.

To a degree the community must respond.  It must respond because it must hold those responsible accountable for the crime that they have committed.  It must respond to make sure that these bad actors do not hurt another innocent child.

So will a shock and awe campaign work in the longer term?    Bully’s live under their own rules, just like prisoners in a cell block.  Bully’s are silent, deadly, and seek out the weak.   Bully’s are use social media to mask their true identities.  Bully’s will use access to public computers, create anonymous email accounts to escape being identified.  They are smart, cunning and resourceful.  Bully’s understand social media better than adults ever could. Bully’s could be the class president, a cheerleader or a ROTC cadet.  Terror campaigns will catch a few of the bad actors AND create short term panic. A shock and awe campaign will not create a long term solution to the bullying problem.

Changing the Culture, Build Empathy

These children have little sympathy for their fellow classmates. These children do not have the ability to deal with anger, sadness and hopeless.   That is not these children’s fault.

In reviewing the Stop Bullying Program in San Francisco, they engage the bully by having them learn empathy.  They begin teaching at the elementary level, so the children take these skills into high school.

So empathy, lets start there.  Empathy would be the foundation that we need to start building these kids emotional intelligence.  It all starts with the first step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teenage Bill of Rights

bill of rights

I am your teenage son or daughter.  I have rights in your divorce.  I did not plan for your divorce.  I planned on having a normal teenage life full of emotional ups and downs. I planned on worrying about acne, geometry and going on my first date.

I need to inform you that I have some basic rights, and I want those rights respected by both of you.  These rights include:

  1.   I have the right to be left alone.
  2.   I have the right to ask questions, when I feel the need to ask.
  3.   I have the right to be angry and speak my mind.
  4.   I have the right to be sad, refer back to #1.
  5.   I have the right to be with my friends.
  6.   I have the right to do the things that make me happy.
  7.   I have the right to ask how this divorce is going to affect me.
  8.   I have the right to both parents, and not feel that I have to choose between        you.
  9.   I have the right to know that you will act in my best interest.
  10.   I have the right to be happy and find happiness.

 

Signed on this the ________________ of 20__

From your kid

 

____________________

 

Having read you request, your parents plan to honor and respect your rights as a teenager in this divorce.   We will give you the room that you need to heal during this painful time while providing you guidance just like we always have.  We sign this bill of rights understanding that you will look to your parents for continued love and support.

Parents Pledge

 

 

___________________               ____________________

Mom                                                         Dad

The better edit

KIDS FIRST PARENTS SECOND

Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce

One of the nicest part of being involved in a nonprofit is having members who provide suggestions and direction.   Mark Unger approached our organization a few months ago with the idea of creating an online parenting course to help educate parents on the effect of divorce.     An online parenting class.  Why, I thought?  What would be the benefit of something like that?  The internet seemed full of different options with different classes.   It seemed an impossible if improbable task to complete.

Bring on our Different Path Seminar in the fall of 2015.  David Bowles asked “How are you going to get your mission across to family lawyers?”  That question bothered me and I started thinking…. “How were we going to get our message to divorcing parents?”  More importantly how do parents new to the divorce process know the differences between collaborative practice and civil litigation?

Attorneys have a skill set just like doctors.  In the case of doctors, most people know that you go to a general practitioner if you need help with a wellness issue and that you go to a surgeon if you need to be operated on.  Potential clients understand that lawyers are broken into classes based upon their skills in particular areas of the law whether it be family law, criminal law, personal injury etc.  Potential clients are not well educated that family law attorneys, for example, can resolve disputes through civil litigation, collaborative or team based approaches.

Most parents do not need to have their divorce resolved through a family law court.  High conflict cases fit into a small percentage of divorce cases.   Collaborative or team based approaches would actually offer the divorcing parent the best opportunity to needed resources that would act to help minimize conflict during and after the divorce.

An online parenting course appears to be an excellent opportunity to help divorcing parents understand their options.  Understanding your Choice for a Better divorce educates parents on two basic concepts:  1.  that they have a choice over how they manage and resolve their dispute, 2.  that their conflict hurts their children in the short and long term.  Parents learn 1. how to tell your child you are getting a divorce, 2. the Pros and cons of Collaborative, civil litigation and interdisciplinary approaches and 3.  How conflict effects children.

The Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce Course is the first parenting course that educates parents on the choices they have to help them resolve their divorce.   The course offers direction to parents to move away from needless conflict for the sake of their children.   The Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce course should be considered as a road map for parents as they start to journey through the divorce process.

The classes will be available on Udemy.com.   Our lectures will be provided through a mix of PDF, Power Point, Video and You Tube presentations.    Kids First Parents Second has received and sought the help of various experts across the country in preparing the instructional content of our lectures, all who share our nonprofits mission common goal to reduce the unnecessary conflict caused by divorce.

A trip to the courthouse may be inevitable, but it is our belief that it should rarely be the first step that parents should make before they resolve their differences.   It is our belief that the Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce Course will help parents everywhere understand the benefits that are available to them through the collaborative or team based approaches.    The Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce online class will be available in 2016 on Udemy.com.

Updates

Kids First Parents Second will offer a presentation describing the basics of the Understanding your choice:  A Better Divorce Course at the San Antonio Area Foundation located at the Pearl Brewery.  The event has been set for February 26th, 2016 and will be held between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.  This event will include a presentation by Dr. Dina Trevino on the “50-50 options” available to parents based on the age range and particular needs of children of divorce.    The presentation will be offered to Kids First Parents Second members only.  For information about how to become a member send your request to mattsossi@bsossi.com.

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