Frank Relationships Radio Show: Rosalind Sedacca, Child-Centered Divorce

Sunday, Dec. 9th 2012 11:40 AM

 

Breaking up? Have children? Mad? Vengeful? If so, this week’s edition is especially for you. It’s about the babies — but you may want to think twice about letting them hear it. Stay tuned.

Link to this week’s guest(s): http://www.childcentereddivorce.com/


 
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: CHILD-CENTERED DIVORCE
Speaker: Rosalind Sedacca
Date: December 09, 2012

Frank: Breaking up got children, mad, vengeful, if so this week’s addition is especially for you. It’s about the babies, but you may want to think twice about letting them hear it. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at: franklove.com.

I don’t think you’ve ever heard me curse on this show, but that’s about to end. Yep, you heard me, fuck that. For a moment today, I’m acting as a surrogate, because I’ll be damned if I let the asshole that fucked, ran off with and had the nerve to marry the mother fucker down the street, have anything, I mean anything to do with our children.

How could you even think that co-parenting with that sorry mother fucker would be feasible? After the pain I’ve been caused, after the pain the children of witnessed, after breaking up our family and after embarrassing me in front of everybody that we know, fuck you if you think that I can and or should get along and fuck you if you think the children having a relationship with such a callous and destructive fucker is important to their well being. That sure wasn’t considered when their affair began, and if you think the presence of my so-called co-parent is important for the sake of the children, then you’re crazy. There’s no presence when they were together fucking, why now? Shit? I’m going to spread my pain to both of them, because I wasted my time and 20 years on that relationship and they can kiss my ass. So, Mrs. Child-centered Divorce lady, if you think for one second that some philosophy is going to change my pain and my sacrifice, you’re crazy. How could it?

Rosalind: Well, to tell you the truth, there’s a lot of things I want to say to you, because there’s a lot you need to hear and that’s because you’re so wrapped up right now in your pain and your anger and your resentment and believe me, it’s justified, but that’s not the end of it. The end of it is what’s going to happen to your children if you’re going to create and continue to create the kind of relationship you’re talking about now? Filled with anger, filled with discord and disrespect for their other parent, you’re setting yourself up for trouble and you’re setting yourself up for hurting your innocent children and they’ve been hurt enough. So, we have to talk about creating a child-centered divorce, a divorce that isn’t about you, isn’t about your pain, isn’t about your anger, but it’s about the consequences for the children, for every decision that you make

Frank: Our guest is author, expert blogger, community leader and the voice of child-centered and divorce and she’s here to share her personal insights on avoiding many of the dangerous divorce mistakes that parents make. So, if you want to know the key questions to ask yourself before making any parenting decisions, the worse mistakes parents make with their children after divorce and how you can get a free gift, join me in welcoming a woman who is created a very unique approach to an often challenging situation, Miss Rosalind Sedacca. Thanks for being here.

Rosalind: Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

Frank: Tell us about your story and how it lead to your leadership in terms of children and divorce.

Rosalind: Absolutely, I was facing divorce more than a decade ago. My son was 11 years old and I stayed up for weeks and weeks of sleepless nights, regarding how to break the news to him, because I knew my son loved his dad as much as he loved me and I knew it was going to hurt him to hear about the divorce. And finally, one night at four in the morning I got the idea to create a personal family storybook in a photo album format as a way to break the news to him about the divorce and that’s what I did.

I wrote a history about our family, about how mom and dad met and they did marry and rejoiced in having a baby and the text included central messages about the future that I wanted my son to hear, because he knew there was tension at home. There was fighting and there was a lot of discord in the family for the months and months previous and I felt that having a divorce would actually be better for everyone in the family than to continue the way we did and that living in two separate homes, but still being a family was a sensible solution.

So, I gave him the storybook and the photo album and it was about him and while the experience of breaking the news was tearful and emotional and dramatic, as it always is, I discovered that it was a very good resource, because it was a script that I already wrote for myself. So, I made sure I didn’t miss any of the important messages I wanted to tell and it was also something that he could reread over and over again. Look at the pictures, remember the way the family was, remember the way the family is and that there’s a future that can be bright, that this isn’t the end of the world.

And I said to myself, because I was a writer, that I should share this tool with other people and create a storybook that other people can use and I sat on it for 15 years before I did it, but eight years ago I wrote that book and it was called, How Do I Tell The Kids About The Divorce: A Create a Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children with Love. And I added fill-in-the-blank templates, so parents can customize their own story about their own family with some details, but most of it is written by me and I had fixed a psychotherapist contribute to the book as well and what makes it unique is that we have age-appropriate templates. Those templates that you fill in and customize before you put your information and your family photos in an album or a scrapbook and you present it to the children.

And it worked out so successfully. It’s now an internationally acclaimed book that parents can depend on as a sound way of breaking the news to their children and it became the foundation of my creating the Child-centered Divorce Network for parents, which is a website filled with advice and information, strategies, tips, insights and resources and help, so that anyone dealing with divorce before, during or after, can get the help they need.

Frank: I want to get into the book deep, but before we do that, tell me how much your husband was involved with the concept around the book back then when you were going through your divorce.

Rosalind: Well he wasn’t involved in the concept, but I definitely advise if you can break the news with your spouse, it makes it easier. And so we were together as a family, because when I showed him the book after I wrote it, he got on board and saw that this was wonderful thing. Because children don’t understand that there was a past before they existed, it’s hard for them to really grasp that mom and dad had a life before they were born or before some of their siblings were born. And so it’s very good to give them a history and say this is a relationship that existed for quite awhile, started with love, things went sour and sometimes they do in life and there’s going to be a happy ending at the end. Because even though our family form is changing, because of the divorce, we’re still a family and we’re still your mom and dad and we still love you and want the best for you and we’ll be there for you.

Frank: Is it safe to say that the divorce was initiated by you?

Rosalind: Yes, in this case I initiated the divorce.

Frank: So is it easier to implement a solution of this nature when you are what some might consider the aggressor or the person that’s initiating the divorce?

Rosalind: It works either way—

Frank: Okay.

Rosalind: Because, regardless of who started the divorce, both sides feel pain, both sides are hurt, both sides are resentful and the dream of what the marriage was supposed to be has failed and so there’s a lot of grief. And regardless of who started the divorce situation, the reality is, that these are two parents who created children who are innocent and now we have to face how do we break the news to the children and how do we move ahead in life. Do we have anything to do with each other? Do we continue to hate each other for the things that created the divorce in the first place? And what the book does is put parents on the same page when it comes to the parenting side of things.

You could go and fight and scream about all the issues regarding divorce and money and a lot of other facades of it but when it comes to the parenting, if you’re in the courts screaming and fighting and tearing each other apart when the divorce ends you have decades ahead of being a parent. And if you don’t understand that right from the beginning it’s a lot harder to co-parent afterwards and when you don’t co-parent, then the children suffer a deeper emotional scar. So, my purpose and my goal and the goal of every divorced professional on the planet, is to help parents understand the effects of divorce on children and the fact that every decision you make every moment of every day, will affect them either more positively or more negatively. You have choices, you don’t have to do what your parents did, what your friends or neighbors did. You don’t have to just follow [rotely – 11:19] sp like a blind sheep and you can make better choices and today there are more alternatives and better alternatives for moving through divorce and for moving on after divorce than ever before. Take advantage of the resources, get the help you need and your children will thank you for it when they’re grown adults.

Frank: Tell me about your son then and along the way and now. And how he looked at the situation, how he looked at how you guys dealt with it, what he might have gone through and where he is now.

Rosalind: My son, of course, was very angry and upset about the divorce initially as every child is, but once we—one day my husband and I were—and this was after we broke the news—we were in the same house talking, fighting over something about who’s moving out, when and where and other details and my son started crying. He was 11 years old. And my husband said to me, “Look what you’re doing to this child. You’re destroying the family. You’re destroying him,” and my son stopped and said, “Daddy, I’m not crying because you’re getting a divorce, I’m crying because you’re fighting. I can’t stand the fighting anymore,” and to his credit, my ex got that message. That the worse and most destructive thing you could do around children is fight, even if divorce isn’t in the picture. When you fight you hurt your children, because they love both mom and dad and they’re torn and confused and it’s painful.

So once we stopped fighting around him and we started talking about how do we arrange our lives from now on? We made a schedule; my son was in my home a few days of the week and my ex’s home a few days. And we were very flexible, we actually called each other on Sunday night and said, “Okay, I have a meeting on Tuesday and I can take them on Thursday. And you can do this on Wednesday,” and we alternated the weekends so that we could start dating and we just worked it out from week to week, but we stayed in the same community.

I got an apartment just a few miles away and so my son got off the school bus in one place or the other place and he had the two homes. And it was very easy for him to adjust, because he didn’t leave his school, he didn’t leave his friends, he didn’t leave his environment. The more changes, the more dramatic the changes for the children, the more difficult it is for them to adapt. But they can adapt when parents have an attitude that says, “This is better for our family. Our family will move ahead more peacefully following the divorce than it was during the craziness of what we had in the past.”

And so he went through junior high and high school and graduated and moved on into college and my son ultimately became a veterinary cardiologist and got married. And my ex and I with our new spouses, we both remarried, were at the wedding and everyone got along well, because we always knew and understood that this is for our son. We went to his graduations, we went to his sports events, we went to certain holidays things together. Others we did separately, but whatever we did, we did it when we were together, we were cooperative—

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: And respectful of one another and my son didn’t have to choose that if mom and dad are in the same room, there’s going to be chaos. Or who should I have other first, because mom and dad can’t be in the same room? We did it for him and when he was a young adult, the greatest blessing in my life was when he said to me, “You know mom, so many of my friends have had such trauma when their parents divorced and they’re so angry at their parents and I just want to thank you and dad, because you guys did a wonderful job. / Thank you.”

Frank: / Very nice, very nice. You noted the dating process where you and your ex began to date and you actually made time for one another to date. That’s one of the things that a lot of people have issues with in terms with just going into a divorce, knowing that their current partner will one day be with someone else.

Rosalind: Yes.

Frank: How do you suggest that one partner get passed that as being a reason to be angry or a reason to want to hold on and be vengeful? All that of that bad stuff.

Rosalind: And, and you’re right. It’s very easy to justify the anger, especially when we’ve been hurt, especially when there’s adultery, when there’s been drugs, when there’s abuse of all kinds, it’s very hard to let go of that. And that’s when we have to do the inner work. We have to work on ourselves, because the more we are attached to the past and can’t let go, the less able we are to move ahead in our own lives and give ourselves a future.

And regardless of whether you initiated the divorce or if it was thrown on you, you want to move on in life. You want a future and so you have to learn how to let go and letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t hold the other person responsible for the things that they did and the hurts that they did. You do, you let go and you even forgive for you, because it frees you. It opens the door so that you’re no longer carrying the baggage of a past experience. And too many adults today are walking around so connected with ties to the baggage of the past that they can’t start a happy new future. In many cases divorce opens the door to better relationships, new and healthy relationships to those who work on it, for those who look at themselves and say, “What part did I play in this? How did it go wrong? Why did I make the choice I made?”

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: “What do I have to learn about myself so that I can make better, wiser, more mature choices? And what can I do to choose differently this time around?” So, it gives us a lot of freedom, but it’s very important that you don’t bring dates in new relationships into the family life until there’s a lot of work done and a lot of conversation between the two parents. And that communication between mom and dad is the greatest blessing and the biggest curse—

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: Because if it’s handled poorly, it creates incessant anxiety and anger and just keeps the discord going. And there’s tension in the family and the children pick up on tension and then will act out and misbehave. When you have parents that treat each other respectfully and allow each other to move on and are cooperative with one another, then it’s much easier for things to happen and sometimes it’s a real blessing—

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: To be a divorced parent who’s dating, because you have more time. You know, because I knew that my ex loved my son and that he was a wonderful father, I was very happy when my son was with him. I didn’t worry. I didn’t have anxiety about who’s my son with and so I was able to do the things that you couldn’t do normally when you’re a parent 24 hours a day. Take some time for myself to do things with friends, go to a movie, go to a dinner and eventually start dating again. But the advice for anyone who starts dating again or who has another relationship and that’s part of the divorce process, is that it’s very, very important that you slowly introduce anyone new, because children are going to be very upset and angry about another party coming into the picture and no one should be replacing mom or dad.

Frank: Right. Now how do you deal with the controls that often one parent wants to wield over the other when it comes to communicating? So, one parent may want to date and say, “Hey look, I’m seeing someone,” and the other parent may say, “I don’t think it’s time to introduce him,” and they may say that over time in order to just continually will some level of control over you, how do you deal with that?

Rosalind: Sometimes you need to go to a third party and get a dispassionate expert involved. Go to a divorce coach, go to a therapist, go to a support group and if you can go together, then it’s more helpful, because you need the communication and you need someone who’s objective to be able to interfere and say, “Wait a minute, what I’m hearing is this and that and that may not be fair. Maybe there’s another option or alternative.” If one party is constantly wielding all the power then obviously that co-parenting relationship is imbalanced and it’s not going to be really co-parenting, in the best sense. And again the children will be the catalyst, because if they start acting out then you know you have problems.

What children do, is either turn in, get depressed, withdrawn, get less involved in life and just curl up into a ball, so to speak. They may regress in their behaviors and suddenly start bedwetting or, or crying inappropriately or losing grades in school, doing poorly in school, just showing that they’ve, given up on life. Or other kids will act out the opposite and get very aggressive, start bullying other people, picking on their own siblings, talking back to the parents, not respecting you anymore. Also, having trouble in school in a bad way; starting drugs, doing things that they know are going to really anger the parents. Both ways, these are children who are showing that there’s discord at home. They don’t feel secure. They don’t feel comfortable in life. They don’t know where they belong and most important of all, they don’t feel heard.

Frank: Well, how do you find a third party that both parties can agree to?

Rosalind: Well, today that’s easier than ever, because there are resources. On the childcentereddivorce.com website, I have pages of resource of attorneys, mediators, therapists, coaches and financial planners who are all child-centered. That means their focus is giving you the best possible advice to keep the family unit as whole as possible and as healthy as possible. And so there are resources that you can turn to on many websites that are talking about divorce and children. What you want to do is keep away from the litigation attorneys that are talking about fighting in court.

Frank: Okay.

Rosalind: First of all, you’re spending a ton of wasted money when you get into litigation. All the money that should have gone to your children’s college fund is instead going to feed the lawyers / and the lawyers goal—

Frank: / And the court fees and all that good stuff.

Rosalind: Yes, and the lawyer’s goal, because they’re paid by the hour is, to keep the fights going. They don’t care about the outcome. They don’t care how beaten up you are, so even if you win in court and you get this great financial outcome that you’re looking for, then you turn around, the lawyer’s gone, the divorce is over and you were bigger enemies than you were before the divorce started.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: Because the hatred has just been months and months and months and months of court and hatred. Then, how do you turn around and start being parents again? It’s much smarter and go for what is called “collaborative divorce,” which is an alternative where you have divorce attorneys who specialize in understanding importance of collaborating on behalf of the family as a unit. And mediation where you have a trained mediator—many of them are attorneys or therapists and they sit with you and you work out the details; every detail step by step by step and find compromise, find agreement. Find ways that you can give a little here, get a little there, so that you can move ahead with the divorce and the details of parenting in a harmonious manner.

Frank: Here, here. You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking to Rosalind Sedacca, the author of How Do I Tell the Kids About The Divorce: A Create a Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children with Love. Rosalind, you have a special gift for our listeners, what is it and how can they get it?

Rosalind: Yes, I have a gift, it’s a free e-book, Post Divorce Parenting, Success, Strategies for Getting It Right, and if they go to childcentereddivorce.com, it’s right there on the home page. Just give me your email address and it’ll instantly be emailed to you. And it’s filled with great advice on every facet of divorce, so that you understand that you’re not alone and that there’s answers and that there’s help. And it’s fabulous guidance and I’m happy to make that free for every one of your listeners.

Frank: Very nice. I’m going to lead us down a road and I want you to hang out with us a little bit more.

Rosalind: Uh-huh.

Frank: If one of the people, and you talked about this briefly a minute ago—if one of the members of the couple is wielding an unequal amount of power or it’s perceived as unequal, then wouldn’t going to a mediator—if that persons knows that it’s unequal and that they’re basically unruly and that they’re hell bent on getting their own way, wouldn’t going to a mediator automatically be a loss for them?

Rosalind: Sure. For some people they are determined not to cooperate. There are too many cases out there and I do personal divorce coaching by phone and so I hear stories everyday like that. There are some people who are determined at all costs to hurt the ex and put that above anything else that they care about in life and sometimes you’re not going to change that person and so you have to be a good divorced parent despite it. That’s why there’s some questions that I ask that I think are very, very important for people to ask themselves when they’re getting a divorce and one of the most important is, “Do I love my children more than I hate my ex?”

Frank: Ouch.

Rosalind: “Do I love my children more than I hate my ex?” That kind of sobers you up, if you’re really say you love your children and everyone aspires and says that they do. Not everyone does.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: Some parents are very, very selfish. The anger is so strong that basically by what they’re doing, they’re saying, “Screw you,” to the kids. Now, they don’t understand it in fully. They don’t realize it and they feel justified in what they’re doing to the ex.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: But what happens is they are hurting their children. Dr. Phil always talks about the fact that it changes a child when they’re around parents fighting. It changes who the children are. It affects them on such a deep level. And when you asked a child to choose between mom and dad, when you put the responsibility for making huge choices like, “Who’s house do you want to live in,” and major choices like that in their hands, it creates such guilt and anxiety in a child, because they can’t win. Whichever side they choose, someone is going to be angry at them.

Frank: Right.

Rosalind: Someone’s going to be hurt at them. So, there are physiological implications that happen that parents aren’t thinking about when they do things and the purpose of the Child-centered Divorce Network is to grab parents as early on as possible, shake them up and say, “Wait a minute, you can’t just do anything you feel like doing. You have to think of the consequences to your children first.” So, there’s another question that’s really good to ask.

Frank: Let’s hear it.

Rosalind: And that is, “If we weren’t divorce, would I be making the same parental decision? If we weren’t divorced would I be making the same parental decision?”

Frank: What if they would and that’s the problem, that’s the reason for getting a divorce?

Rosalind: Well then, if they would, at least you’re being true to yourself as a parent. And many parents after divorce, there’s two different households with different rules. The less you have that, the easier it is for the children, but sometimes that’s the case. In mom’s house you go to bed at 8:00 P.M., in dad’s house you go to bed at 10:00 P.M. In mom’s house you do homework after dinner, in dad’s house you do homework only on the weekends. I mean, you know whatever it is sometimes parents are not going to coordinate with each other and that makes it harder for the kids, but kids can adapt to anything if the parents are cooperating around them and the children don’t have to become the parents.

Frank: And if the parents are consistent, even if they’re different.

Rosalind: Yes. Thank you, because that’s very important, consistency. But the key is that you don’t want your children to have to step-up and be adults and rob them of their childhood, because you’re such a poor parent that they have to move in and start being adults. And that is one of the most deepest wounds that you can inflict on a child—is taking their childhood from them, because of your divorce and making them spies for you, so that when they’re in the other house they have to feedback who did mom talk to, where did you go, what did you eat? What happened here? Where did you go there?

Think of the responsibility and the burden and the guilt on the child if they tell the truth, they know that dad’s going to be angry. If they lie then they’re feeling the tension of lying and they’re feeling that they were dishonest to their other parent. It’s a lose-lose situation and the same thing with making them your confidants.

“I know you’re angry at that S.O.B., because he had an affair or he was an alcoholic,” or a multitude of other things, but to start talking to your children and explaining how much you hate that S.O.B. destroys them from the inside out, because it’s not their fault and they may still love him. He may still be a wonderful dad or he’s the dad that they know and love, just because he’s / dad.

Frank: / He’s dad, yeah.

Rosalind: And here you go telling your children what a terrible person that their other parent is.

Frank: And that’s all they know.

Rosalind: That’s all they know and they feel so guilty for loving and they start thinking, “If my other parent is such a bad person
I wonder if mom’s going to think that about me and I wonder if mom would divorce me. Maybe if I don’t get good grades in school or maybe if I misbehave, I’ll be getting a divorce from my mom or dad.” It’s so frightening, the insecurities that develop as a result, but it’s not of the divorce, it’s the result of parents handling the divorce improperly.

Frank: And let me say—let’s spread it around, I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page and that it is not once sex of parent that does either—

Rosalind: Absolutely.

Frank: It goes / both ways.

Rosalind: / Both parents are equally and I hate the gender wars. I hate when moms get together and blame dads for all the problems in divorce and when dads—there’s websites filled with angry dads, blaming women for all the problems.

Frank: Yep.

Rosalind: The reality is that both moms and dads make terrible mistakes, are very selfish and are unaware of the pain they’re inflicting on their children. Most of them are not doing it intentionally, they don’t know any better, but they could know better, they could understand this on a deeper level if they weren’t so caught up in their drama.

Frank: I want to go back to that egomaniacal parent. When that is going on, when you have one parent that’s just hell bent on having it their way, isn’t going to court and getting a court order actually preferable? Isn’t it a good thing?

Rosalind: Sometimes you have to go to court when you have situations like that and this is after the divorce when you’re finding one party isn’t playing fair and isn’t following the agreements; breaking the rules, things like that. Yes, when you have a crazy, angry, vicious parent who will refuse to cooperate in any way then you move into legal battles and you move into legal drama and yes, you have to go to court. There’s all kinds of things that happen and in some cases there aren’t a lot of alternatives.

All we could do is try to reach these people and get them to speak to a therapist or a divorce coach, who could talk about the ramifications of what’s happening. Because this parent is so filled with anger that all they see is, “How can I hurt my ex the rest of my life,” and the children innocently become pawns. When you’re hurting your ex, you’re hurting your children and that’s the truth. So you have to understand that and say, “I’m going to hurt them despite that,” and the children are going to face the consequences. And let me tell you, there are a lot of very angry adult children of divorce out there who turn on their parents when they grow up and say, “What the hell / were you thinking?”

Frank: / “What were you doing? What in the world was going on? What was on your mind?”

Rosalind: And they’re very, very angry and that’s why another important question to ask yourself right now is, “How will my children respond to me when they’re adults about the way I handled the divorce?” Because if you think about that when little Johnny is five or 15, it’s going to help you make better decisions. You don’t have to wait until they’re 21 and they turn and look at you and say, “I hate you for what you did.”

Frank: Well, there are a lot of parents who are going to say, “Well, little Johnny is going to in 15 or 20 years—going to look at the situation and say, ‘That my co parent was the one who messed up and was wrong and I’m justified.’”

Rosalind: Yes, that what they’re justifying thinking, but the reality is when the children grow up and get to understand a little more about both sides and get to understand what adultery is about and gambling and addictions and various other reasons behind divorce, they see it differently. They understand that it’s usually not black and white. It’s usually not one person who’s good and one person who’s bad and there’s something else that you’re touching on that we have to bring up and that’s called, “parental alienation.” And that’s when one parent feels totally justified in alienating the children against the other parent, because they feel so right that the other parent is so bad.

This is much more common than we like to think and it is the most destructive form of damage on children. Children are too young to know the difference and so if mom or dad says, “Your other parent is just a no good,” then “And we won’t have anything to do with them,” and it’s a very easy way to hurt the parent, to devastate the other parent.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: But children will grow up, and very often turn on them in their 20s and 30s when they find out a little more about the reality of the situation. And they’re missing out on pieces of their childhood of having another parent.

Frank: And children also may turn on the parent as a result of beginning to deal with the opposite sex themselves and finding out some of the challenges they have to go through with the opposite sex.

Rosalind: Exactly, exactly. As they grow and they understand more about relationships, they realize that things are rarely black and white. So, of course we’re not talking about the extreme cases. We’re not talking about physically abusive people. We’re not talking about people who belong in prisons and who are damaging or destructive to the children, but 90 percent of the cases that isn’t so and I have spoken to so many alienated parents and again it’s both men and women.

Parents whose lives have been just torn apart forever, because they’ve lost one, two, three, four of their children that they have no relationship with; children who have no idea how much they love them and care about them, but the other parents felt justified and vindicated in just keeping them from them. And not only is it the parents, we forget about the extended families of divorce; the grandparents, how hurt the grandparents are / when one, one—

Frank: / Aunts, uncles.

Rosalind: Yes, aunts and uncles and cousins and all those relationships that gets severed.

Frank: And friends of the parents.

Rosalind: Exactly, exactly. We have to be very aware that the ramifications of every decision we make is very far reaching and we get so caught up in, again, our own feelings of self righteousness about what we believe that we don’t want to think about the hurt. It’s devastating to see entire families where they no longer have contact with grandchildren and cousins and the children that were part of the family unit and it’s hurtful on all sides.

Frank: I want to co-sign the concept that you’ve introduced in your book and that’s basically telling a story to your child. In my book, How To Gracefully Exit a Relationship, I dedicate a chapter to children—well, to telling the children and one of the hallmarks in that chapter is, writing a letter and preferably writing the letter with your co-parent, talking about the good times, the reasons why you guys have decided to split and basically putting a bow on the situation in terms of mom and dad are together in this decision and it allows the child to read it, reread it and continually come back to a place where both were on the same page. So I really want to congratulate you and say, “I completely agree,” if I’m getting it right with the sentiment that you’re introducing.

Rosalind: It looks like you and I are on exactly the same page. I’m so impressed with what you just told me, because that’s the exact concept that I had. I just moved it from writing that letter to adding the photos and putting it in the photo albums so it became a storybook rather than just a letter. But either way the concept is sound, it works and it makes so much sense. And what you and I both saying is that, you are a family and mom and dad together are reassuring the children that our family will still continue.

The form of the family is changed, that means we’re living in too separate homes and it’s going to be a few different changes and things in life, but the family is still here and even if you introduce another partner down the road from dating and someone else comes into your life, as I did, my son always knew his dad was his dad and his dad loved him and so he—my son was never as upset about my dating other people. And he liked the men that I dated and ultimately loved the man that I did date, because he never replaced dad.

Frank: Very nice. Physical discipline one parent believes in it the other doesn’t. How do you navigate that?

Rosalind: Again, that’s where communication between the parents comes in and sometimes you’re not going to be able to navigate it, sometimes in mom’s house, life is just different than in dad’s house. But it’s so much better for parents to talk to each other and look at the outcome.

“Does physical discipline really make a better outcome for children?” There’s a lot of evidence that shows that you don’t have to be using corporal punishment for children to get a message that you’re displeased and that they misbehaved. The very most important thing we can understand is that we are role models for our children every moment of the day and so using physical punishment gives children an understanding that when you’re very frustrated and life doesn’t give you what you want and you’re angry about something then you can physically act out to show how you feel about that. It isn’t always the best message, because we can’t do that in life and not get locked up in jail. So, why start that way?

There are ways of learning how to express ourselves and disciplining children where they still understand that there are limitations to what they do and there are consequences. And I try to remind parents that every minute that you’re role model, so how you handle the divorce is showing children how you handle stress and anxiety and challenges in life, because life is full of challenges. Divorced or not, your parenting is challenging; you’re going to have issues with school and homework and discipline and bullying and all of the things that happen to kids in life. And if you don’t know how to handle those and you role model poorly for your children, that’s what they’re going to learn.

So, the divorce is really a phenomenal opportunity for one to show how mom and dad are able to handle stress and challenge in life and do it respectfully and maturely. I think parents stopped being mature. We act out as little children and there’s one more very important point I want to make and that is it’s never too late to change what you’re doing and apologize to your children and say, “You know I realize that I didn’t make the right decision when I was deciding to do things this way or that way and I’m sorry and I apologize and for now on, we’re going to do things differently.”

Frank: / Very nice.

Rosalind: / Children are very flexible, they’re very amenable. They will always forgive you, so even if you divorced five or 10 years and you suddenly realize that it isn’t in your best interest to be doing some of this—it isn’t in your children’s best interest to be doing some of the things you’ve been putting on them, apologize, change the decision, change the plan, talk to your ex, make new decisions and new outcomes. It’s never too late to undo the damage.

Frank: Very nice, very nice. One more, I want to go a little deeper with the physical discipline question. Dad knows mom uses physical discipline and if dad gets wind of it, dad’s going to court. How do you deal with that?

Rosalind: Well again, if you can talk to one another, then you have a chance of reaching some agreement and compromising and hearing one another. If not, then you’re going to be in and out of the courts and letting—the thing about the courts is, both parents are powerless, because you’re letting someone else make a decision about your life. You’re putting into the hands of a judge or some other authority, decisions about the outcome. Sometimes you can’t help it. It’s just too big and there’s no other option, but remember that the more you’re in court, the more you have things done to you and it happens to both parents.

Frank: Both parents, yes.

Rosalind: And getting out of it is very deep, long and complicated. So, the more you can sit down and say, “Listen, I don’t like the way such and such is happening,” and talk about making a change, both of you have the freedom to shift anything in your life when you’re co parenting. All you have to do is find an agreement, a win-win and that’s what life is about. You have to do that on the job, you have to do that when you’re dealing with your neighbors, you have to do that in every facet of life; otherwise, you’re going to be running in discord every minute. And so, this is just another example of a challenge in life and we have choices at every moment, we forget that life is all about choices and making better choices gives us better outcomes.

Making poor choices gives us consequences that we have to live with. So, let’s think about the outcomes of every decision we make beforehand and let’s teach our children to do that; that consequences are the reality. That’s the discipline in life, the consequences.

Frank: I want to talk to you about an initiative that I’m going to put forward very soon in the next year and that’s a—I want to do an award ceremony where I, myself and whatever partners I bring to the table, pick five couples that are doing a great job co-parenting and award them for doing just that. Because there’s so many examples and there’s so much press that goes to divorce as just being a bad thing that many of us associate divorce with basically Hell and wrong and all that good stuff. But we often don’t get that, divorce can be okay, it can actually be good, it can be a step up to the way two people are dealing with each other or co-parenting at a given point in time. And I want to say, these are some examples of former couples that are doing an exceptional job co-parenting.

Rosalind: I love that. I think that’s a wonderful idea. A few years ago, we created an awards for celebrity couples that are doing it right, because there’s so much negative publicity and we hear so many horrible stories in the news about famous people. I like catching—there are some examples like Reese Witherspoon, who did a wonderful job and Demi Moore and Bruce Willis did a wonderful job. So, we were acknowledging them and continue to do that, but I think your idea of finding couples who are out there who created the right outcomes is wonderful. They deserve the acknowledgment and that’s a part of why we have international child-centered divorce month in January; an entire month dedicated to educating parents about all the things we’ve talked about today and giving them free gifts on our website, so that they can get better educated and get more resources.

Frank: Do you have that website?

Rosalind: The website is divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook; divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.

Frank: I want to back up a second and say it’s not just the co-parents that are doing a great job that deserve to be congratulated, it’s the community at large deserves to see these beautiful images of these co-parenting—the co-parents that are doing a good job, also.

Rosalind: Yes.

Frank: Because we often feel alienated, isolated as though it’s only us and many times people who are having a tough time in their divorce or being that difficult individual who’s not willing to budge—many times that’s all they think their options are, they think that that’s all there is, that, that there’s no possibility of being congenial, getting along, having fun with your co-parent or anything like that. So, this is a new image to engrain in many of our minds.

Rosalind: I’m very excited to learn more about it. I hope you’ll contact me and tell me, because I totally support what you’re doing and I think it’s a wonderful idea.

Frank: I’d love to work with you.

Rosalind: Uh-huh.

Frank: A few more things before we wrap up. Tell me about your children’s bill of rights?

Rosalind: The children’s bill of rights are some of the most basic things that children—that when a parent needs to understand that come with being a child. And the right to have peace in your life, the right to not have to choose between parents, the right to not be in an environment filled with anger and fear and hatred and discord and fighting all the time.

We forget that we are creating environments for our children everyday and they have a lot of rights in a divorce that just get overlooked. I don’t have the entire list in front of me right now, but it’s something I can send to you and you may want to post on your website, because it’s very important that parents stop and understand, children have rights. And children, because they have so little power in our culture, those rights just get overlooked and they get squashed upon and, and parents just manipulate children—

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: And it’s very sad.

Frank: There’s a term that you’ve coined or I think you’ve coined called, “dangerous divorce mistakes.”

Rosalind: Uh-huh.

Frank: What are they? Tell me a little bit about that.

Rosalind: Oh yes, well, these are the most important things and we’ve covered a few, but I’ll go over them quickly. One is fighting in front of the children. Studies have shown that this is the most damaging thing you can possibly do in marriage or divorce. So, even if you’re not divorced, it changes who they are and it affects them on a deep psychological level. Burdening them with blame is another mistake. If you don’t remind them that none of the divorce is their fault—sometimes parents are fighting about children and it’s part of the reason for a divorce, but it’s not the children’s fault.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: The children are innocent. So, you have to remind the children, because children tend to blame themselves. They don’t understand the deep complex, emotional things happening to the parents. And so, they blame themselves and think, “Maybe if I was a better kid, mom and dad wouldn’t be divorced.” Very important that we remind them that they’re innocent. Bad mouthing your ex to the kids is—

Frank: A no, no.

Rosalind So damaging, so damaging; it’s a form of parental alienation. If you disrespect or put down or disparage your ex in any way to the children, around the children, it confuses them and it makes them feel guilty for loving the other parent and it just alienates them from you, while it makes them feel terrible about themselves. Lying to the children, especially about your ex to justify decisions you make is another dangerous mistake.

Frank: Uh-huh.

Rosalind: You want to speak to your children with age appropriate answers and explain that the divorce is about adult situations. So, this doesn’t mean you tell the children the truth about drug addiction and adultery and things like that if it’s not age-appropriate. And I believe even teens shouldn’t be getting—they’re not your confidants and you shouldn’t be telling them adult information. Talk to your friends, talk to your counselor, your coach. Do not give the children adult information, because it isn’t theirs—appropriate resents to be handling these kinds of issues. But you don’t want to lie to your children about their other parent either, so that you get them on your side, that’s manipulative and very dangerous.

Don’t ever make them your confidants, because it, again, confuses them, makes them feel guilty, gives them great anxiety and you want to allow them to be children. My parents stayed together for the sake of the kids, should’ve gotten a divorce and my mother made me a confidant and told me terrible things about my father and it was such a burden. I lost my childhood, I lost my innocence and I don’t want anyone to have to go through that.

Frank: My man on the boards is telling me we’ve got a few more minutes, so if you’re willing to stay with me, I’m willing to stay with you.

Rosalind: Okay.

Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking to Rosalind Sedacca, the author of How Do I Tell The Kids About The Divorce: A Create a Storybook Guide for Preparing Your Children with Love. Rosalind, one more time you’ve got a special gift, what is it and how can they get it?

Rosalind: A free e-book, Post-Divorce Parenting Success Strategies for Getting It Right. It’s at childcentereddivorce.com and there’s lots of other free articles, free weekly newsletter, resources, tips, advice, coaching services, I also have a 10 hour audio coaching program with a workbook that’s available on that website. There’s many resources. There are lots of media interviews that I’ve done on related topics, so it’s a source of information, so that no one has to feel alone and unsupported if they’re going through any facet before, during or after divorce.

Frank: Do you ever tell your child, “Mind your business?”

Rosalind: No, you don’t tell your child, “Mind your business,” because you need to give children answers so that they understand that they’re respected. Now your answers have to be simplified and they have to be cleaned up in a way, because you’re talking to children and they don’t have the capacity to understand complex, emotional adult information. But you want to respectfully talk to them about the fact that mom and dad have feelings, mom and dad have hurts, things happened and they can understand those things, they can understand changes in life. They can understand that this is not their fault and this is about change, not about blame.

If we can reframe the divorce and say, “We’re changing to another chapter in our lives and things are going to be a little different in this new chapter,” children can understand that, because life is full of changes. You change grades in school, you change hair combs and clothing styles. This is just another chapter in our life, but it doesn’t have to be bad, just as you said in the letter you suggested writing. It’s just a shift and when you approach it like that, children can easily adapt and accept and be on board with you. It’s not divorce per say that scars children, it’s the way parents handle divorce.

Frank: It’s the way they handle it. Tell us briefly about your audio coaching program.

Rosalind: Yes, this is the 10 hour audio coaching program and it has a workbook and it was from a group coaching a program that I did for six weeks and it includes a number of expert interviews as well. So, step-by-step, it takes you through the process of understanding, what to say to your children and how to say it and then how children respond at different ages, so you understand the difference in talking to a seven year old and a 17 year old. It also talks about communication skills; how can we talk so that we’re heard and are listened to with our ex as well as our children? And it talks about the danger signs to avoid, mistakes to avoid, what to look for to make sure you’re monitoring your children for signs of distress in them, so that you know what to do and how to answer difficult questions for them, so that you’re keeping in communication. t’s so important that the parent-child communication stays and continues.

Divorce isn’t something that happens one month and then it’s over. This is years and years and years of parenting following the divorce and you still have to be in communication with your children so that you can be the role model that they respect and want to emulate as they keep growing.

Frank: You also noted that you do phone coaching?

Rosalind: Yes, I do telephone coaching and if you contact me at rosalindatchildcentereddivorce, I’m happy to talk about working with anyone on an hour-to-hour basis, so that we can get into their personal issues and resolve them. Anything involving divorce and parenting issues; I don’t get into legal issues, but divorce and parenting is my area of specialization and I’m happy to talk to people about any of that.

Frank: And I also—it’s worth saying if any listener wants to work with me on the awards event, send me an email at: frank@franklove.com. I’d love to begin to build the infrastructure for this event as soon as possible. I’m looking forward to working with some great people.

You’ve been listening to Frank Relationships. We’ve been talking with author, blogger, advisor, coach, community leader and the voice of child-centered divorce, Rosalind Sedacca. Once more please tell our guests how they can reach you.

Rosalind: At childcentereddivorce.com, that’s c-h-i-l-d-c-e-n-t-e-r-e-d-d-i-v-o-r-c-e.com and the book itself, How Do I Tell The Kids About The Divorce, is at howdoitellthekids.com; howdoitellthekids.com. You get the book with several bonuses. We have a wonderful community of experts that in the Child-centered Divorce Network, so if you’re looking for resources of any kind, go to the childcentereddivorce.com website and you’ll find the answers that you need or my email address is on there and you can contact me directly.

Frank: Along today’s journey we’ve discussed the mistakes that many parents make when divorcing, we’ve also found out how to get a incredibly valuable free e-book and the key questions to ask yourself before making any parenting decisions.

I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had talking to Mrs. Sedacca, about divorce and children. As always it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that will help you create a relationship that is as loving and as accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at: facebook/relationshipflove on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. Until next time keep rising. This is Frank Love.

Print Friendly
Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • Print
  • Reddit

Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship
Posted by FrankLove | in Children, Divorce, Radio Show | No Comments »

Leave a Reply