Maintaining the calm during the holidays

holiday_glass_peace250Although the holidays are supposed to be filled with love, family time and joy, this time of year can be very challenging for couples on the verge of separating. It’s a well-known fact that more separations happen in January than any other month of the year. Since it’s rare that the decision to separate is made on the spur of the moment, this means most couples who separate in the new year are just hanging on until the holidays are over. Many couples with children express that they want to wait until after the holidays before separating in order to protect their children. Christmas is supposed to be a festive time and they don’t want to ruin it for their kids. This is certainly a personal decision that can make a lot of sense, but sometimes just ‘knowing’ this decision can be challenging as you look to survive this busy period of being ‘together’.

How to give the gift of ‘hanging in there’, while you are hanging on

Safety first: You should make sure there are no concerns around safety, the possibility of violence or intense conflict. If you have these concerns – then you should seek professional help immediately.

Know your limits: Knowing that you are both putting on a false front, limiting your engagements might be a good idea. Sit down with your spouse and look at all of your obligations/commitments. Maybe this is the year to cut back on some of the extra visits and parties. With everyone putting on a shield to ‘pretend’, recognize that you may only have so much energy in your shield to face relatives. Give yourselves permission not to attend some events.

To tell or not tell: So should you tell the children? While this is an individual choice for parents to make together, most parents tell us that they don’t want to spoil the holidays for the kids. Their concern is that the kids will forever remember the separation and associate it with the holiday season. It’s ok to postpone telling the kids until the time is right. Seek professional help from a counselor or divorce mediator in order to ensure you use the right language when telling the kids. There are quite a number of books and recommended readings for parents facing separation.

Curtail the urge to over spend: Sit down with and take a hard look at your finances. It is tempting to over indulge the kids out of a feeling of guilt. But if you are carrying credit card and line of credit balances, now is not the time to add more debt. Financial changes are on the horizon; so it’s key to keep the spending within affordable limits. Be creative with gift giving. Remember that children are more likely to appreciate honesty. “I don’t think we are going to be able to swing it this year”.

Make time off the gift of ‘presence’: You’re about to spend 4 or 5 days off work – together. Try to plan child-focused activities. Let’s face it – if you know this is going to be the last Christmas together, you can approach that with a sense of dread, or make the most of it with a positive attitude. Giving your children the gift of your time, whether it’s tobogganing, skating, games will create some positive, long lasting memories.

No fight zone: If you’ve already decided to wait until next month, make a pact NOT to talk about it during the holidays. Limbo is the most difficult part of change and most people want to ease this pain by digging into the research, the planning and the financial calculating of what will happen next. Since you are not going to be able to actually solve any of these problems during the holidays, agree that you won’t talk about the house, the finances, the children’s parenting schedule until the new year. You certainly don’t want your kids to remember this Christmas as the year mom and dad were fighting all the time.

Peace of mind: Preparing is good, we all want certainty about our future. But stressful emotions can cloud our ability to think clearly. And it can get worse by working with the wrong information or hearsay. So here’s an idea. Give yourself an early Christmas present by seeking professional help and guidance from a divorce mediation coach on the pending financial and parenting questions, to help you and your family with a smooth transition through this difficult time.

For couples contemplating a separation, the holidays can be a very difficult time. ‘Faking it’ can be difficult, but if you’ve decided it’s best to wait, you can make it through. Knowing in your heart that you did your best for your children is a good spot to be in. And a great place to find peace and joy this season.



Divorce is Not a Four-Letter Word

We’ve all done it at one point or another. Standing at the cocktail party, or the water cooler at the office, talking about whose relationship has ended. And then the speculation of how, why, and was there another person involved. Somehow maybe it makes us feel safer in our own relationships if we can package up the ‘why’ of someone else’s relationship ending. Since that could never happen to us, we feel safer when we can find a ‘cause’. Maybe if the cause of divorce can’t be found, then it might just happen to us?

But with divorce rates now ranging from 35-40% across Canada (higher if you count common-law breakups), how can something that is now fairly common and accepted, still leave people feeling ashamed and embarrassed? Why does it still carry with it a stigma of failure?

Let’s face it – no one gets married thinking it won’t last. Everyone has the intention of spending the rest of their lives with the person they chose to marry. But sometimes things change, people change, circumstances happen and people grow apart. Who are we to cast judgment on others? Can’t it just be ‘what is’, without judgment, blame or shame?

Does divorce have to be ‘bad’?  As long as we perceive divorce in a negative light, people will likely continue to lay blame on who, what or how the relationship ended. And as long as we are in the business of blaming, how can people move through this event with dignity and grace?

When you stop and think about it; divorce touches most people’s lives in one way or another. Whether it’s a personal experience, a colleague, family member or neighbour, everyone knows someone who has gone through or who is going through divorce. It’s become pretty common in our society, so maybe it’s time we started to change the way we think and feel about divorce.

Let’s redefine divorce as an event, albeit difficult and at times very sad; but still, just an event that happens – period.  By removing the labels, people might be able to get through divorce a little easier, with a little more dignity.  If we eliminate the blame game, maybe people could move through it in a pragmatic way and focus on building a more positive future. And children wouldn’t feel so different or ashamed.

Let’s not let divorce define us, or our loved ones. D-i-v-o-r-c-e – it’s 7 letters. Just like R-e-s-p-e-c-t and D-i-g-n-i-t-y


Respectful Communication for Post-Divorce Parenting – Is that Possible?

If you are separated/divorced, and you have young children; be prepared that the journey ahead will involve ongoing communication with your former spouse. And if you are like many couples, then chances are this might not seem very enticing at this point.

 To compound things, you may also be finding your life becoming busier with navigating children’s schedules and activities. Children are often involved in sports, music, school activities; making the weekly calendar look more like a maize of who goes where, with whom.

I often ask parents, “if you could describe the ideal relationship with your former spouse, what would that look like?” Getting people to articulate what’s most important to them keeps the conversation grounded and focused on goals, rather than emotion. The two most common answers to that question are: “I hope we can be flexible with each other so that when things come up we can make changes to the schedule” and “I hope we can have a respectful relationship with one another.”

So everyone wants respect and flexibility – what does that actually mean and how do we achieve that in our communication once separated? Effective communication takes practice and by following a few simple rules you can make some pretty big changes to your interactions with your former spouse.

Here are some tips to help you achieve that:

1. Ask, don’t tell: many times in our busy lives, we need to rely on email or text messages to communicate with one another. The challenge is that there is no tone to the typed word and so messages can be wrongly interpreted. We are all so busy that we often just blurt the bare facts out, not even thinking how that message might be received by the other person. But let’s be clear – if you are the one wanting a change in the schedule, you want to think about how and the tone you use to communicate this.  Following the Ask, Don’t Tell rule will help you to avoid being misunderstood. For example:

Instead of: “I need to change Friday’s pick up from 5pm to 7 pm.”

Try: “I was hoping to change Friday’s pick up from 5pm to 7pm.Would that work for you?”

You might be surprised how much better that will work for you.

 2. Explain your ‘why’ – the underlying reason or need. This additional layer of knowledge can go a long way to building positive communication. By taking the time to explain the underlying reason, you’ve just given context to your request and allow for possible alternative solutions if you can’t agree. Going back and forth in a yes/no, yes/no yoyo pattern does not allow for possible resolution and just increases your frustration. By understanding the ‘why’ behind the question, new alternatives can be explored.

Instead of: “I need to change Friday’s pick up from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm because Johnny won’t be ready at 5pm” could get you this response: “why not? School is done at 3:30 and that’s my time!”

Try: “I was hoping to change the pick up time from 5pm to 7pm because Johnny has a birthday party to go to after school and it won’t be done until 7pm. I promised Samantha’s mom I would drive Samantha home after the party as well. Would that pick up time work for you?”

Or, when the shoe is on the other foot, and you’re asked for a change:

Instead of: “No that doesn’t,” doesn’t leave much room for options and could end up in an argument.

Try: “No, because we will be at my mother’s for dinner and I don’t want to leave half-way through.”

Knowing the reasons why, you can then explore alternatives. One parent needs to move the pick up time, the other parent can’t be there.  Possible solutions – mom drives Johnny to his mother’s house or pick up time is later. Both work.

Try this: “would it help if I drop Johnny’s off at your mother’s? Or would you rather pick him up later when dinner is done?” When you are able to offer choice, the other parent still feels like they have voice in the situation.

3. Give a specific timing for response

The final piece to this new pattern is respecting timelines. Sometimes we have one parent who is a planner (that person might like to have the week laid out before Monday) and the other parent is more about going with the flow (not wanting to commit). By recognizing these different styles, you can avoid ongoing conflict.

Have you ever waited for an answer only to have the deadline approach with no response? Most times people think their co-parent is deliberately trying to avoid them, but in my experience, life sometimes just gets busy and the person simply forgot to respond.

Try:  “ I can either drive Johnny to your mother’s at 7pm or you can pick him up later. Can you let my know by Thursday night? I’m ok with a quick text message on that.”

Remember, ASK don’t tell – let’s face it, nobody wants to be told what to do. You’re more likely to get a warm response with a question than a demand. Giving the ‘why’ behind a request will allow you to explore options if ever you still don’t agree. Being courteous around response times allows everyone to plan ahead. Working together, practicing respectful communication patterns means you both feel good about your parenting role. And Johnny gets to attend the birthday party. In the big picture, isn’t that the most important thing?

Selling Your Home While Separating & Divorcing? 8 Steps to Maintaining Your Home’s Value

By Stephanie Catcher – Realtor RE/Max Estate Centre Inc.

Selling your home during a separation or divorce can be challenging. Your home’s value can be negatively affected if the buyer finds out that you are parting ways and decides to offer less because of the perception that one or both sellers are highly motivated.  The following are 8 steps you can take to avoid your divorce or separation affecting the value of your home.

1.      Check your Closets –  Buyers look in closets; so make sure that both spouses have clothing present in the master bedroom closets.  The buyers’ Realtor knows who owns the home and will be looking for evidence that those listed homeowners have a presence in the house.

2.      Keep your Guest Rooms as Guest Rooms – If you are both still living in the house but in separate rooms, make sure the guest rooms and guest bathrooms still look like they are reserved for guests.  If one spouse is using a guest room as their main living space, make sure it is cleaned up daily (no personal belongings are left out). This is evidence that this space is used daily.

3.      Keep Furniture in all Rooms of Your Home  – If one spouse has moved out and takes furniture with them, make sure you are able to fill the space in your home with other furniture.  A home with obvious holes in the furniture placement, can tell a Realtor that one spouse has moved out.

4.    Keep your Bedding off the Couch – Even though one spouse may be sleeping on the couch, make sure that extra bedding is put away every day – not just neatly folded on or next to the couch.  Nothing says separation or divorce more than someone sleeping on the couch.  By making it a habit of putting the bedding away every day, you will always be ready for showings and not have to rush home to tidy up.

5.    Be Honest with your Realtor – Make sure your Realtor knows your situation and that you do not want your motivation for the sale disclosed.  Many buyers and other Realtors will ask your listing agent why you are moving and it is important to let your Realtor know what answers are acceptable and what to do if a neighbour asks if you are separating when they come to an open house.

6.    Make Sure you are Never Home During a Showing – While it can be very inconvenient to be away from your home every time it is shown, it is important that you are not there to engage in any conversation with the potential buyers or their Realtor.  They can often ask hard questions and it’s not easy to come up with the “right” answers on the spot, so avoid those situations by trying to be out of the home 10 minutes before a showing and arriving 10 minutes after a showing.

7.     Keep your Poker Face During Negotiations – When its comes to negotiating the sale of your home, you may be in a situation where you, your listing agent and the buyer’s agent meet together to negotiate.  This is another area where the buyer’s agent is going to be looking for motivation for the sale.  Again, it is important to discuss acceptable responses with your listing agent ahead of time.  If you have a disagreement with your spouse about what offer is acceptable, or the terms of that offer, make sure that this does not show while the buyer’s agent is there.  Nothing reveals a possible separation like spouses arguing in front of everyone. The best thing to remember is to keep your poker face while the buyer’s agent is there and then discuss your issues in confidence with your listing agent as your agent is working for you and you only.  If your conflict becomes emotional and result in tears, everyone can see this, so maybe excuse yourself from the conversation.  It is not rude if you are unable to sit at the table to complete negotiations, your listing agent can brief you on what is happening. You do not need to be present for the entire time that the buyer’s agent is there.

8.      Choose a Realtor who is Impartial – To avoid any further conflict both during the listing and the negotiation process, choosing a realtor who is impartial is best.  Often one spouse may know a realtor personally and want to use that realtor due to the personal issues that can arise.  However, using someone who is impartial is best and that person can look objectively at both spouses’ sides and be able to assist each spouse individually without any bias.

Stephanie Catcher is a Realtor specializing in residential sales in the Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge area.  Stephanie prides herself in providing her clients with friendly, patient, courteous and knowledgeable service and will work with you directly when buying your next home or selling your current home.  If you have any questions, feel free to call Stephanie for a no obligation discussion about your Real Estate Needs.

Stephanie Catcher – Re/Max Real Estate Centre Inc.  720 Westmount Rd E, Kitchener, ON

Stephanie Brick Background Small


A New Year’s Resolution For Those in the Midst of Divorce

With a new year fast approaching, many people look ahead in anticipation for a positive year ahead. We make goals such as to lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, spend more time with the kids – all with great enthusiasm and optimism. But for those who are in the midst of divorce, feeling positive and optimistic can seem about as realistic as climbing Mount Everest.


The pain and hurt associated with divorce is impossible to describe and many people find themselves lost and unsure of the path ahead. So how do we look to the future when all we feel is the memories of the past burning inside of us? The truth is you can’t. Looking to the future without grieving for the past is impossible.  The good news is that it won’t last forever. In fact, it is precisely by burning through the feelings, allowing them to flow through you, that you will be able to move past them. It is not easy, but it is necessary. And what awaits you on the other side is a greater understanding of who you are; as well as a more deep-rooted faith that you CAN overcome difficult times.


So how do you move past the feelings in a healthy way that allows you to let go and let be? Here are 4 ‘A’s that you can build some resolutions around to get you started on the right path.


Acknowledge the feelings – it’s ok to feel hurt, angry, sad, disappointed. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes. Write your former spouse a letter (you don’t need to send it for it to have healing impact), draw, cry. No one gets married expecting it to end. Whatever the reason, it happened – it likely wasn’t part of your life plan, and it hurts.


Accept– humans have an incredible ability to feel so many different emotions. That is what makes the human experience so remarkable. Accept that you are in the dark part of the journey but know that things will get better. After all, if we didn’t feel sadness, then how could we know joy? This is a really difficult time for you, so give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Don’t apologize or beat yourself up for what you feel.


Ask –loved ones for help. When you feel like you can barely take your head off the pillow – turn to those around you for support. Don’t try to be a super hero and handle everything of your own. Be good to yourself, you will get stronger. Do what is necessary and let other obligations go for now. If you have children, now is the time to cash in all those favours from those you have helped in the past. You need to be there for your kids, so take time for yourself so that you have energy for them.


Awareness – know that the universe is always providing us with signs, be open and listen. Look for moments of inspiration and peace. Surround yourself with things that make you feel safe and good. Pictures, music, candles, time with a close friend, a walk outside, do whatever works for you. Feel the universe providing you with support and love. Many have been down this road and you will make it through.


A New Year’s Resolution – to move through the grief process by using the 4A’s as your guide. There is no shortcut through the grief of ending a relationship. By accepting this as part of the journey, you Will be able to move past this stage and be able to look to the future. Here’s to burning through the grief and moving on!


A New Tradition: Bye Bye Birdie!


 The time it takes to eat a family dinner can be as little as 10 minutes on the way to the next game or practice. Today’s pace is so fast and rushed that many families struggle with quality time at the table. Even special Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner can see 6 hours for preparation and gobbled up in under an hour of eating time.

With divorce, blending families and juggling multiple family dinners over the holidays can mean your children might be eating 3 turkey dinners in the span of 48 hours! If you are looking to create new traditions you might want to consider some different options.

Having a blended family with 7 children (ranging in ages from 30 down to 18), we found ourselves planning our family Christmas gathering for December 27th. My husband and I made a pact with ourselves that we never wanted to pressure the children that they had to be home on the 24, 25 or 26th. Rather what was most important to us was that everyone could be together (if possible) on one day.  So when the date was confirmed, we decided to break tradition and do something a little different.

We bought and borrowed individual stir-fry pans (called Raclettes). The idea is that each person has their own little pan and cooks their individual portions of food.  After purchasing several kinds of meat, fish, veggies and sauces, we had everything chopped and ready to go. So for 2 ½ hours, we talked, laughed, cooked, ate, then cooked and ate some more. It was probably the most conversation we had all had in a long time. You can’t rush this kind of meal because the pans are so small; they only cook a little bit of food at a time. It was so much fun to see everyone engage not only in the cooking, but also in the conversation and laughter. And I didn’t have to get up at 5:00 am to stuff and prepare the turkey!

            If you are looking to break tradition or find yourself looking for ways to engage the kids in the festivities, consider looking at alternative dinner ideas. Fondues or “make your own” are a great way to step out of the old and into new.

It’s a fun way to put a little more Merry back into the festive season!

Stop Pushing my Buttons!

How can someone instantly go from being an intelligent, rational individual to a crying, yelling, angry lunatic? In my divorce mediation practice, I hear people tell me all the time: “I’m not normally like this”, or he/she “just brings out the worst in me. I just wish he/she would stop making me crazy. I really hate being this way.”

So why is it that your ex pushes your buttons so easily?

It might have something to do with control – or lack of it. Let’s be honest, we all love to be in control. It makes us feel safe. We have a natural desire to want life to be smooth and predictable. So when those unexpected ‘ex’ curve balls come at us, we react. It’s natural to react to these unexpected stressors in life; after all they wreak havoc on our plans, our dreams and desires. And especially in divorce, control is something we often feel we lose. And that is why those trigger buttons feel like they are getting pushed way too frequently.

Chances are you hate feeling this way. So what are you going to do about it? Your friends might tell you just ignore it, you’re being too sensitive, or worse yet, play into your rage with pearls of wisdom like ‘your ex is such a jerk I can’t believe he/she is treating you that way”. But these statements neither help nor make us feel any better. On the one hand I am a loser for being so sensitive, on the other hand I am a loser for letting him/her take advantage of me. So I’m stuck because if he/she would just stop than all would be ok. But it’s not likely to stop – and if you have children from the marriage, you have a lifetime ahead of some sort of relationship with this button-pusher.

Regaining control in your divorce.

We’ve all heard coaches, psychologists even our parents say; people can’t push your buttons unless you allow them to. Turns out that advice isn’t far from the truth. So if you allow it to happen, how do you make it stop? The key is in the YOU, not them. It is YOU that is in control of those emotional reactions, not your spouse. Take a moment and reflect on WHY you feel this way? What is it about this moment or event that is making me crazy?

Stepping out of the conflict to understand why you feel the way you do is the first step to gaining control of the situation. So if your spouse is ½ hour late for picking up the kids, or has cancelled a weekend away with them; instead of reacting in anger, frustration which often results in lashing out, ask yourself: WHY is it that I feel this way? It is rarely about the incident. The real issue will likely be about feeling valued, that your time is important to, or it may be about being respected, that you want to be asked instead of told.

No matter the cause, there is always a reason for emotional reactions. And that is both the gift and the opportunity. It isn’t easy to step out of reaction mode, but if you take the time and practice you’ll soon realize that you can gain control again and that you will gain understanding of why your buttons get pushed and how to deal with it.

Some practical tips to stop the instant reaction: Breathe – just tell yourself you won’t do or say anything until you breathe for 10 seconds. Never underestimate the power of ‘pause’ time. You’ve done it when you enter the bathroom and see that your four year old has dumped all the shampoo products on the floor and says: “look I’m skating!” Wait – before you respond. How many times have we sent text messages or emails in the heat of the moment only to regret it the second we’ve hit ‘send’. Make a pact with yourself that you won’t respond to messages for 1 hour or better yet if it’s not urgent – a day. Who said answers have to be instantaneous? When your teenager asks if he can go to a concert out of town with his friends, you’ve often said I need time to think about this. You’ve witnessed how effective that strategy can be in thinking through issues. So claim the time you need. Tell your ex you’ll get back to them tomorrow. Vent – in a productive way – not in front of your children, not on the phone with your ex spouse but in a way that does not inflict damage to others. Acknowledge that you are hurt. Give yourself permission to be angry, but own it. These are YOUR feelings and that’s ok.

Ask – what is this REALLY about? What part of ‘control’ do I feel I am losing and how is this event affecting that. Will this really matter a year from now? Do I need to hold on to this or can I just let it go.

It’s not easy work but with a little practice you can tame the reactive lion that lashes out at your ex spouse. And when you begin to experience the calm within, that is where the true power of control lies.


Helping your children cope with changes during divorce – Part Three: A new school



So the move is complete and now it’s time to prepare the kids for a new school.

Changing schools can be easy for some and very difficult for others. Try to reassure your children that it’s ok to be sad and nervous. If you have older kids, ensure that they have the opportunity to stay connected to their friends at the old school. When it comes to new schools, it can be an opportunity to make new friends and experience new environments. Children are usually very resilient and adapt quickly to new situations. The key is that you frame the change in a positive way.

One way to help kids adjust to a new school is to talk them through that first day. Discuss with them what to expect and remind them that the ‘newness’ of it won’t last forever. Usually teachers assign a buddy to a new student so it might not be as scary as they think. If your child is nervous about what to tell people about why they moved, help them by preparing a bit of a script. “My mom got a new job so we moved to be closer to it” or “my parents are living in different houses and our old house was too big” are both safe ways to explain, without having to share all the details.

Be sure to tell the teacher a little bit about your circumstance so he/she can keep an extra close eye on your child.

Even though inside you may be stressing about how they will do on that first day, don’t let that angst show. Give them empathy but then keep them focused on the positive: “I know this isn’t easy but remember when you went to camp and you were really nervous? By the end of the week, you didn’t want to come home.” Remind your child of a time they dealt with a new challenge or situation. That will give them more confidence to face a new school. The bottom line is that when parents demonstrate confidence in their children, children often model or ‘rise up’ to that very behaviour.

Is moving schools easy? No.

But at the end of the day, life is always changing and you can help your kids grow and develop by fostering and modeling a positive outlook. When you tell your children that you believe in them, that’s a life lesson they’ll keep with them forever.


Helping your children cope with changes during divorce – Part Two: Downsizing can be difficult


When facing a downsize of living arrangements or a reduction in income, remember that kids will role model our attitudes about money and things. A friend of mine once said: “are you a stuff person or an experience person?”

From 20 yrs in the classroom, my experience is that although kids may seem to be attached to material things, what they really love and crave is your time. And that doesn’t cost anything. Sure you may not be able to offer all the newest toys and gadgets; and dinners out might be few and far between during this transition phase; but believe me, your children will remember the time you spend with them and the things you do with them more than any new iToy. You only have to reflect on your own childhood to know that it’s the special connection time you had with family that you remember most, not the Christmas gift when you were 12.

How can you prepare children for ‘two homes’? You can help your children sort out their things, so they can decide what will go to each parent’s home. Try not to make them feel guilty if they want a certain item at the other parent’s house. Remember these toys, decorations, teddy bears belong to the ‘children’- not you. A general rule is that if it was given by grandpa on dad’s side, it might be best to take it to dad’s house. But remember nobody wants a gift that comes with strings.

When the move happens – help your children through the transition by giving them the confidence that you believe they will be ok. This is not to say that the financial adjustments that often accompany the early days of divorce are easy, but with the right frame of mind and positive outcome, it doesn’t have to have a long-term emotional impact on your kids. A new home can be an opportunity for a fresh start.

Teaching our children to be resilient and to be able to adapt to life’s changing situations – that’s a life lesson they’ll keep with them forever.


Helping your children cope with changes during divorce – Part One: Dealing with change

Divorce can bring about many changes in the family unit. This can include new housing arrangements, new parenting routines and responsibilities, perhaps new schools for the kids, and quite likely a reduction in family’s disposable income. Let’s face it, this change can be very difficult for adults let alone the children.

In the busyness of changing circumstances, we sometimes forget about the children. They can often feel a little bit lost as their parents sort out the many issues that need to be resolved. Plus they may get caught up in the emotional ups and downs that parents face themselves when ending their relationship.

So how do we help our children deal with all these changes?

Even though this time can be filled with uncertainty, it is possible to frame these changes in a positive way for children.

First of all, children need to know that even though mom and dad are now living in different houses, they still have two parents who love them. Change can be difficult but recognize that it can also be a chance for new bonding opportunities.

Secondly, help your children find that balance of feelings. It’s important to validate the sadness or grief your children might be feeling, just be careful not to dwell only on the negative aspects of divorce. By finding some positive aspects to a move will help children cope with this change and find that balance. The best way to ensure children move through this major change in their lives is for them to focus on the positive aspects.

And third, be positive yourself and sometimes that means swallowing hard. Even though you may be feeling hurt, afraid, or angry with your ex-spouse, never blame the ‘change of circumstances’ on the other parent, or the divorce. If you need time to ‘vent’ about your ex-spouse, call a friend and go out with them. Even if it really feels good at the time, venting in front of the children is always extremely unhealthy for everyone. Remember when you criticize the other parent, you are criticizing ½ of your child.

Optimism helps everyone deal with whatever challenges lie ahead. No matter what your circumstance, teach your children to look at the positive side. That’s a life lesson they’ll keep with them forever.