Co-Parenting Group Starting Soon

I'm currently recruiting clients to join a co-parenting group.  The group meets once a week for 8 weeks.  It is very affordable, just $25 per session ($200 total).  

It may be comforting to know that most children adapt quite quickly post parent split up if a couple of things are in place: 1.  Parents resolve any ongoing and persistent conflict between themselves.  2.  The children return to a consistent and predictable routine.  And 3.  They can maintain a healthy and happy relationship with each parent without interference from the other parent.  

Of course, there are many heartaches and unmet wishes a child of divorce may have.  Like they might hope their parents get back together.  This is very common, but this unmet wish is something they will understand with time.  It isn't something that they will carry with them forever.  Ongoing and persistent conflict, unpredictable parenting, and fear of ridicule or disappointing a parent has much further reaching consequences.  

This group is designed to help parents resolve ongoing conflict between each other that involves parenting matters, helps you get in touch with your child's experience, and introduces parenting strategies so that your child has as consistent and predictable a life as possible.  

If you're interested, or know someone that might be, give me a call or shoot me an email!  I also offer co-parenting sessions on an individual basis.  

kjerstinelsonlmft@gmail.com

(650)416-6388 


   

Biweekly Roundup

Good new about marriage today!  The 50/50 divorce rate is not true any longer!  However, that does not mean you shouldn't keep working on your marriage!  Today's articles discuss attitudes and reasons why marriages are working, tips on communicating your needs/wants more healthily with your partner, a heart-warming story about when co-parenting with a step parent goes RIGHT!, and a new study about how daily chaos influences your child's sense of self and family stability.  Read on!

1.  Marriage rates are up!  If you got married in the last decade you are 70% more likely to stay together until death!  The 50/50 split and stay rate is a myth!  Divorces peaked in the 1970's and 80's and is correlated with the beginning of a cultural shift spurred by the feminist movement, but these days people have adapted, attitudes have shifted, and the results are in: if you get married you are likely to stay married!  Read more here: http://jezebel.com/that-50-percent-divorce-statistic-hasnt-been-true-for-a-1665833364

2.  On the subject of marriage this article has some tips on improving your communication with your partner.  It lists a few "what not to say" followed by a healthier way to talk about getting your needs met.  It's short and might help you get thinking about communicating more effectively and carefully :D http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/marriage-sex/worst-words-in-a-marriage

3.  However, if you are divorced, with kids, this is a heart warming best-case-scenario of what life could be like when both partners move on, co-parent cooperatively and involve new step-parents.  It is not easy, nor wanted (by most) to have a new "parent" in the mix.  When your ex moves on and has a new partner that can lead to a myriad of reactions: anger, jealousy, mistrust, relief, fear, sadness, anxiety, you name it!  However, in the best cases, when the new step-parent bonds with the children, is a positive role-model, and co-parents cooperatively with both parents things can end really well for the child and parents!  I know this is not always the case, but I think it is heartwarming to know that this can happen for some families.  Read the story here: http://www.today.com/parents/letter-my-daughters-stepmom-i-never-wanted-you-here-1D80341783?cid=sm_fbn

4.  This next article is based on a study done with six year olds.  The six year olds drew pictures of their families, a common diagnostic tool used by clinicians.  Then the drawings were analyzed for distance between family members, sad, angry faces, etc.  These were then cross referenced with the child's home life.  What the study reveals is that children with chaos in the home (referred to as "a function of poverty") which could be loud noises, excessive crowding, lack of structure, and clutter down the line leads to children with poor self-esteem, poor family relations, and higher levels of family dysfunction.  The study suggests that daily disorganization leads to negative outcomes more so than occasional instability in the home.  read more here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/12/08/368693069/kids-drawings-speak-volumes-about-home?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=202608

and the original article here:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14616734.2014.966124#/doi/abs/10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

 

Bi-weekly Roundup

Hey all, I'm back with more interesting reads (and a radio program)!  Today you can learn more about positive characteristics of long term relationships, how stress impacts the brain, how to teach kindness and empathy to our children, a few pros to playing video games, and a discussion on surviving and thriving through traumatic experiences.   

 

1.  Want to know what characteristics make for lasting relationships?  Kindness and Generosity.  Based on years of relationship studies done by John Gottman and Robert Levenson at the University of Washington, it was found that couples that are kind and generous in their interactions with their partner stay together, and are happier.  Couples that leave out these core ingredients were found to have higher physiological responses in their partner's company (high heart rates, less calm) and seemed to be in a constant state of "fight or flight".  Their interactions were more often critical, dismissive, passive/passive aggressive/aggressive, and pessimistic.  

What does it look like to be kind and generous?  It means being happy for your partner when good things happen, considering the partner's intentions rather than actions, giving warmth and affection, and responding to your partner's "bid" for connection (showing interest when your partner attempts to share with you).  Read the full article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-2-traits-2014-11?utm_content=bufferdc881&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer  

2.  Did you know stress changes the physiological structure of your brain?  It does.  Parts of the brain affected: the hypocampus shrinks (important for learning, memory, and regulating emotion); the prefrontal cortex shrinks (important for decision making, memory, and regulating impulsive behavior); the amygdala gets bigger (storage for memories with high emotional impact).  

A good antidote for managing stress:  EXERCISE.  I'd also suggest scheduling an appointment with me ;) Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-c-evans/how-stress-is-literally-m_b_6064966.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

3.  Today's first article demonstrates how important kindness is to our personal relationships.  Kindness and empathy (understanding other's experiences) help individuals have healthy happy relationships of all kinds.  This article discusses some ideas for how you can help your child develop kindness and empathy.  It suggests making caring for others a priority (demonstrating in our own lives is important, it teaches responsibility, and helps create balanced individuals), providing opportunities to practice caring and gratitude, expand your child's "circle of concern" (develops empathy at a larger scale), and guide children in managing feelings.  For more details on how to teach/guide your child read here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/

4.  Are you for or against letting your child play video games?  There is a lot of advice out there on this topic.  I personally think that video games have great potential, but parental discretion and overview of content and age appropriateness, time limits, etc should be in place.  This article suggests that some games help kids hone the following skills: focus, problem solving, thinking and reflection (metacognition).  http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/11040.html?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=November

5.  This last addition isn't something to read, but something to listen to!  If you have about an hour, this is a really interesting discussion.  It is an edition of KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny.  Michael Krasny interviews David Feldman and Lee Kravitz on their new book "Supersurvivors".  The book and discussion are about how people survive and thrive post very difficult and traumatic experiences.  David Feldman was a professor of mine at Santa Clara University.  I have only good things to say about him and his work.  http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201411061000

 

Have a great day!

--Kjersti

Rules for Fair Fighting

Everyone argues, conflict is something we all have to deal with from time to time.  Particularly in partner relationships rules for "fighting" can be useful.  And if for nothing else, maybe this list can help you get thinking about rules you might use to have a "healthy argument" rather than a big blowup.  I don't remember where I found this list, but I think it's pretty useful.  

Rules for Fair Fighting

 

DO:

1. Deal with the Here and Now What is the specific problem right now?  Anything older than 24 hours is garbage, so no garbage-dumping!

2. Take responsibility. Use “I” statements as a way to show you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions.

3. Be direct and honest about your feelings and what you want.

4. Listen and hear! Try to deal with the other person’s perceptions of the situation as well as your own. Be aware of his/her feelings as well as your own. Check to see whether what you heard is really what the other person is trying to express, and ask him to let you know what she hears you saying.

5. Give the other person equal time. Both people need to express their feelings and points of view to create a full mutual understanding.

6. Attack the issue, not the person. Name-calling puts people in a position to respond angrily and defensively. This is usually used when a person feels he is losing. Name-calling breaks down communication and destroys trust in the relationship.

7. Take a breather by paraphrasing what you think you  heard them saying. “I understand you want to tell me about your day but I need a few minutes to finish what I am doing.” This gives you time to think about your response.

8. Focus on solving a problem/reaching a solution rather than venting your anger or winning a victory. Think win-win.

9. Deal with one issue at a time. No fair piling several complaints into one session. Some people call this “kitchen-sinking” – talking about everything including the kitchen sink!

10. Limit your discussion/fight to no more than 30 minutes. Adults have relatively short attention spans. Long drawn out discussions/fights rarely reach resolution. Instead they just wear the participants out. And when you are worn out, the potential of saying or doing something you’ll regret is much greater. If you are unable to solve your problem in the 30 minutes that you’ve allotted, schedule another time to continue.

11. Brainstorm solutions. Be willing to compromise. Give a little to get a little.

12. Go forth as equals. Don’t use power plays. Gauge the intensity of your anger to the ego strengths of the other person and be responsible with the things your mate has entrusted to you in your relationship. YOU ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.

13. When necessary, take a time-out.  A time-out is a short break to cool off, calm down and get perspective. Think of it like pushing the pause button on a video. It’s an opportunity to restore calm and be more reflective instead of reactive. Use the time-out to reflect on why you feel the way you do and how to express yourself in a positive way. Try to think about the other person’s feelings and point of view. Think things through before you speak. Then “push play” again and return to each other to resolve the issues calmly.  A time-out should be at least a half-hour long (but no longer than twenty-four hours). It takes at least a half-hour for your body’s physiology to return to a normal resting state and for your thoughts to become less hostile or defensive. It’s surprising how different a person’s outlook can be after they’ve had a chance to calm down.

14. Give each other the ability to withdraw or change their mind.

15. Speak softly.  If you and your partner have a natural tendency to raise your voice, try whispering.

16. Identify and Define your issue or topic, and stick to it!  Don’t change the subject or bring in unrelated items.  If you have a different item you’d like discuss, save it for the next discussion.

17. Hold hands. (We are not fighting each other, but talking over a problem we are mutually trying to resolve. )

18. Ask questions that will clarify, not judge. A question should never begin with the word “why.” That puts people on the defensive — and we know that defensiveness stops conversation rather than continues it.

 

DON’T:

1. Don’t Refer to past mistakes and incidences.  No garbage-dumping! 

2. Don’t Blame. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements which automatically blame, making the other person defensive.

3. Don’t make comparisons to other people, stereotypes, or situations.

4. Don’t play games.  A game is being played when you are not being straight about your feelings, and when you are not being direct and honest about what you want or need in a situation.  Examples of games are; poor me; silent treatment; martyr; don’t touch me; uproar; kick me; if it weren’t for you…; yes, but…; see what you made me do; and if you loved me…

5. Don’t involve other people’s opinions of the situation (e.g.: “John’s mother agrees with me.”) The only opinions which are relevant are those of the two attempting to communicate at the time.

6. Don’t make threats (e.g., “Do this or else!”). Threats back people into a corner and they may choose the ultimatum in order to save face. You may find later you really do not want to carry out your threat.

7. Don’t demand to win. If you do, your discussion will surely become an argument.

8. Don’t say “always” and “never”.  (“You always…”  “You never…”) These are usually exaggerations and will put the other person on the defensive.

9. Don’t interrupt, talk over or make comments while the other person is speaking. Watch your non-verbal expressions too. Rolling eyes, smirking, yawning etc. all work against fair fighting.

10. Don’t walk away or leave the house without saying to your partner, “I’ll be back”.

11. No finger pointing.

12. Don’t save up feelings and dump them all at once, try to air feelings often.

13. Try not to yell.

14. Don’t read your partner’s mind.

15. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind.

16. Don’t use the following: swearing, denunciation, obscenities, character assassination, contempt, sarcasm, or taunting.

17. Do not assume, guess, imagine, take for granted, theorize, surmise, speculate, make gestures, judgments, funny glances or faces about what your partner means. Find out!

18. No belittling each other’s accomplishments. No matter how small or odd they may be.

19. Don’t be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. It shows you are trying.

20. Don’t argue about details. Avoid exchanges like, “You were 20 minutes late,” “No, I was only 13 minutes late.” (An easy way to distract from the problem).

 

What rules or guidelines have you found to be helpful in communicating with your partner?  Anything on the list you particularly like or dislike?