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Parental Guidance - Everything You Need to Know for Parenting Together Apart

Parental Guidance Archives - Everything You Need to Know for Parenting Together Apart

By Brette Sember

Divorce Books by Brette Sember


January 2012 - Obesity and Custody
You may have heard some recent news reports that childhood obesity is being considered as a factor in custody cases, with courts taking custody away from parents because their child is overweight. The reports are alarming and this is an issue that definitely needs some clarification.


December 2011 - 10 Ways to Make the Holidays a Little Easier
The holidays can be a challenge for any parent, but when youre going through or recovering from divorce, it can be even harder. Its hard not only on you, but also on your child, who wants to please both parents, and also secretly wishes those parents would reunite for the holidays like they used to be.


October 2011 - Conquering Your Fears
Many of the conflicts that come up about a parenting plan arise from your own fears about the situation. And often, they are blown up to be bigger than they really are. When you divorce or end your relationship, your world turns on its head and nothing feels normal.


September 2011 - How to Parent with Yourself
A big part of parenting after separation or divorce is learning to parent all by yourself. Itís actually trickier than it sounds. When you were building up to the separation, you probably thought that you could not wait until you were alone with your kids and looked forward to not having to parent in tandem all the time. You might have believed that things would be so much smoother and easier when you could just make and implement decisions and schedules and not have the turmoil of your relationship interfering. If you are now separated or divorced, you probably know that itís easier and harder, all at the same time!


August 2011 - Childrenís Rights in Divorce
When youíre going through a divorce or custody dispute, your focus is on your rights. Your ex has the same focus. Itís every man (and woman) for himself in this situation. And rightly soóif you donít stand up for yourself, no one will. However, what is often lost in all of this is your childrenís rights.


June 2011 - Marital Infidelity Affects Children
The reasons for your divorce or break up are between you and your spouse, but even if you try to keep infidelity under wraps and your divorce is not front page headlines, it still has an impact on your kids. Even if you donít tell your kids about the infidelity, they are likely to find out if they are old enough to understand, simply by overhearing arguments between parents or conversations you have with other people. Kids react in individual ways, but the following reactions are almost universal.


May 2011 - Living Together When Youíre Apart
When most people think about breaking up or ending their marriage, they think about living separately. In todayís economy it isnt always possible to get that physical separation immediately. Use these tips to manage the situation so that it doesnít have a negative impact on your children.


March 2011 - Change After Divorce
Divorce is a time of great change. You and your child go through a lot of adjustments as your marriage ends. When youre going through the divorce youre focused on surviving it and helping your child survive it.


February 2011 - Marital Property
When your marriage ends, you work through the emotional rollercoaster and come (eventually) to a place where youíve recovered (somewhat!) from all the turmoil. You might still be fond of your ex (or you might not be!), but at some point, you move on with your life, leaving the marriage behind you emotionally.


January 2011 - Teachable Lessons from Divorce
You might have a number of flippant answers to the question ďWhat lessons has divorce allowed you to teach your kids?Ē ďMen/women are creeps,Ē ďDonít get married,Ē or ďHire the most expensive attorneyĒ might be off-the-cuff things that come to you if youíre trying to be funny, but the fact is divorce has probably provided a lot of teachable moments you can share with your kids.


November 2010 - You Fed Him WHAT? Special Diets and Co-Parenting Solutions
If youíre one of the many parents raising a child with a food allergy or special diet needs, the thought of sending your child off with your ex for visitation or parenting time may make your stomach clench with worry.


October 2010 - Ten Tips to Improve Conversations with Your Ex
Although your marriage or relationship is over, you still have to communicate in order to arrange visitation and discuss issues involving your kids. Instead of gritting your teeth and sending mental daggers his way each time you talk, follow these tips to make communication easier, more effective and more comfortable for both of you.


September 2010 - And Baby Makes...
Youíre divorced with kids and are expecting a new baby with your new partner. Maybe he has kids too from a previous marriage. This isnít the Brady Bunch, but there are definitely ways to blend all your various families together.


July 2010 - Vacation Tips for Divorced Parents
Itís here Ė summer. Kids dream of it all year. Often the highlight of the summer for kids and parents is a family vacation. When youíre divorced or separated, family vacations can be more complicated. Youíve got a parenting plan to work around and an ex to deal with. Follow these tips to make sure summer vacations live up to their potential.


June 2010 - Balancing Parenting Styles
Jan prides herself on being a good mother. She is a highly motivated person who believes in punctuality and clear rules. She loves her children more than anything, but has some firm rules for the kids when it comes to chores, homework, curfews, and TV/computer time.


May 2010 - Donít Kill the Messenger
Once youíre separated, one of your goals is probably to have as little contact with your ex as possible. But there are still things you need to communicate about Ė when the child support is going to be paid, what time youíll be dropping the kids off, whether you can switch weekends, and so on.


March 2010 - Splitting Up the Kids
In most divorces or separations, the children live together at one parentís home. There are times though, when the children end up in different households after a separation or divorce. In general, courts believe it is in the best interest of siblings for them to live together.


February 2010 - Tax Time
Taxes are on everyoneís minds as we inch towards April 15. As if taxes werenít complicated enough, being a divorced parent adds another wrinkle to the process.


January 2010 - A New Take on Co-Parenting
The New Year is a time when many of us push the reset button on our diets, budgets, attitudes, and goals. This year, why not add your parenting relationship to the list?


December 2009 - Home Alone for the Holidays
If you share holidays with your ex, you may be facing a holiday alone this season without your child. It can be difficult to be separated from your child, but you can get through the holiday with these guidelines.


November 2009 - Working Together to Keep Your Child Healthy
If your child has dietary restrictions, you probably work overtime to make sure nothing passes your childís lips that could harm him or her. If you have a child who needs regular medication or medical monitoring you also spend a lot of time keeping things running. You might also be a parent who firmly believes in organic foods for your child. All of these situations required a lot of education and time on your part to create a healthy life for your child.


October 2009 - How to Create a Parenting Schedule
Once you have a basic custody agreement decided (or ordered by a court), you still have a lot of work to do in order to create a workable parenting schedule. If you have a court order that specifies alternate weekend and one night per week visitation with the non-custodial parent, you might think thereís nothing for you to do. Setting up a parenting schedule is actually rather complicated and requires you and your ex to sit down together (if possible) and hammer out the details. If you donít have a court order and want to work this out on your own, then you also need to find time to sit down and work through it.


September 2009 - Marital Status and Your Kids
Youíve probably read or heard a lot about how divorce can be bad for kids. In general, I donít agree with that idea because itís been my experience that a home filled with anger, turmoil, or violence is a bad environment for children. And often, divorce is the only choice, so everyone simply has to make the best of it. Iíve talked a lot in the past in this column about how to talk to your child about divorce. Divorce isnít the only choice though, so letís talk about other situations you might find yourself in and how to explain them to your children.


July 2009 - Relationship Talk
If you're divorced, separated or split from an unmarried partner, you've been a bit unlucky in love. Your children however, are wonderful gifts that have come from the experience. You probably hope your child will grow up to marry or partner with someone and have it last forever, happily ever after.


June 2009 - Visitation Cutbacks Unwise
One of the most common questions I am asked by custodial parents is whether they can reduce visitation. The easy answer to that question is maybe, if there has been a change in circumstances and if doing so would be in the best interest of the child. Many people asking these questions donít meet those standards however.


May 2009 - Co-Parenting Special Occasions
As graduation and prom season draws near, many divorced and separated parents find themselves facing important events in their childís life that require the presence of both parents. Throughout your childís life, from preschool graduation, elementary concerts, middle school award ceremonies, to high school football games and National Honor Society inductions, there will be special moments when both of you will want to witness your childís big moment (and your child will want the affirmation of having both parents attend).


March 2009 - Recession Co-Parenting
The recession has hit all of us where it hurts the most Ė in our wallets. If youíre looking for ways to save money, donít forget to look to your co-parenting agreement for ways to make some cuts.


February 2009 - Shacking Up
Most parents who divorce or end a relationship do find that at some point they are able to move on with their lives and find someone new. If you become serious about your new partner, you might reach the point where you would like to live together. Many couples live together without ever marrying, or before deciding to marry, so this is a common choice.


January 2009 - A Fresh Start
The new year is a time when you may feel inspired to start a diet, begin exercising, take control of your finances, or organize your closets. Itís also a good time to have a ďre-doĒ on your relationship with your ex.


November 2008 - Divorce and the Media
If you have children ages eight and up, they probably see a lot about divorce on TV. And frankly most of it is not good. TV shows, movies, and news reports frequently focus on the dark side of divorce - after all there isnít much of a story when two people part in a reasonable way and make adult decisions together about their family and their assets.


October 2008 - Mediation Solves Custody Disputes
If you are going through a divorce or are having a custody or visitation dispute, mediation is an option you should consider. When you go to court, a judge who doesnít know you or your children makes decisions about how youíre all going to share your time.


August 2008 - How to Win Custody
Lots of parents want to know how they can ďwinĒ custody. First of all, no one wins in a custody case, especially not the child. The best custody arrangement is one that takes the childís needs into consideration and creates a plan that allows the child to have a lot of time with both parents through a non-hectic, reasonable schedule. That being said, there can sometimes be a lot of dissent over who should be the residential parent (the parent the child spends the most time with) and you will want to make sure your point of view is heard and understood by the court.


July 2008 - Bon Voyage
Many children spend large chunks of time with their non-custodial parent over the summer. Whether your child is going across town to spend a few weeks with your ex, traveling to another state for visitation, or is packing up to go away on a big trip with your ex, preparing for and adjusting to the absence can be very difficult.


June 2008 - Pet Custody
Custody of children is a hotly contested issue in many divorces, but many divorces also involve a heated debate about the custody of small furry children as well. Pets are like children to many people and the thought of no longer living with or seeing a beloved dog or cat (or other animal) can be very upsetting.


May 2008 - Co-Parenting an Adopted Child
As if divorce isnít hard enough, it can be even more complicated when you are trying to work out custody of an adopted child. Adoption often makes the situation emotionally more difficult for the child, and may make you concerned about what your rights are.


April 2008 - Green Parenting After Divorce
More and more parents are thinking about ways they can be green (act in a way that helps preserve the environment). Lots of people are buying organic, changing to compact fluorescent bulbs, driving hybrids, and taking other steps to help minimize negative effects on the earth. You might not think that the way you parent after divorce could have an impact on the environment, but in fact there are lots of things you can do to be a greener divorced parent.


March 2008 - Non-Custodial Coping
If your divorce or custody case resulted in a situation in which you are not the residential, primary, or custodial parent, you might be upset or not completely comfortable with this situation. Whether you are a man or a woman, there are lots of other parents in your shoes and there are ways to make the best of the situation.


February 2008 - Terrible Terminations
Parental termination is a legal process in which a parentís legal rights are taken away. In the eyes of the law, that person ceases to be that childís parents, and has no more rights or responsibilities towards the child.


January 2008 - Small Changes Have Big Results
When you are parenting after a divorce, you are working within a situation that is certainly not your ideal. Your dream was not to be divorced and to have to share your childís time in a rigid way. The whole structure of your life as a parent has been set and created for you to deal with. You may not be able to change that overall structure, but there are many small things you can do that will make the situation easier and happier for everyone.


December 2007 - Managing Your Kids over the Holidays After a Divorce
The holidays are a wonderful time Ė except when your kids are cranky, overtired, and over-stimulated. Then they are hell-a-days, not holidays. Divorced parents find that managing the holidays can be a huge challenge.


October 2007 - Pulling the Plug on Visitation
Part of your responsibility as the custodial parent is to encourage and assist with visitation. Kids need two parents in their lives, and it takes two parents to make visitation plans work.


September 2007 - Biting Your Tongue
Once youíre divorced or separated, it seems as if you should be free of your ex and able to live your life without his or her influence. However, if you are parents together, this is not a realistic expectation. You will be parents together for the rest of your lives and although you donít have to live together or see each other often, you do have to find a way to function together as parents.


August 2007 - Mom and Dad Together Again
Most children of divorce secretly (or not so secretly) hope their parents will get back together. Having the family reunited and everything as it used to be may seem like a perfect resolution to many children, but in fact reunifications can be difficult for everyone involved. About 10% of all married couples have separated and reconciled, according to the latest statistics available.


July 2007 - Divorce and Your In-Laws
When you get divorced, one of the things you may be glad about is that your in-laws are technically no longer related to you. If you had a difficult relationship with them, divorce might feel like a get out of jail free card in this respect. If you have a child, however, your in-laws are and will always be his or her grandparents.


June 2007 - Coping with Your Feelings about Visitation
Setting up and living with a parenting plan is a big change for everyone. All of you must get used to a new schedule. Working through the new plan takes time. You need to readjust your weekly rhythm and perhaps make adjustments to other activities in your life to make the schedule workable.


May 2007 - Stepparent Adoption
If you have remarried and your spouse functions as a parent to your child, you may wonder if your spouse can adopt your child. Adoption by a stepparent isnít always possible, and it isnít for everyone, but it is an option some families find to be wonderful for them.


April 2007 - Custody Is Not What You Think
Itís time to change the way we think about custody. Many people assume that a custody decision is a determination of who is the ďgoodĒ parent and who is the ďbadĒ parent. Many people assume that if a parent does not have custody of his child, he did something wrong, is not trustworthy, or doesnít have good parenting skills.


March 2007 - Visitation Belongs to Kids
All too often when I was representing children or parents in divorce or family court, I heard parents refer to scheduled parenting time as ďmy timeĒ. For example, a parent once complained to me that taking a child to dance class took away from his time with the child.


February 2007 - Parenting Plans Are Not Written in Stone
When you go to court and are given a parenting or visitation plan, it is because you were unable to reach an agreement yourselves. You couldnít work it out, so the court had to work it out for you.


January 2007 - New Year Resolutions for Divorced Parents
The New Year is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings in many ways. This year, in addition to perhaps starting a diet or beginning to work out, devote some energy to developing a healthier interaction with your ex.


December 2006 - Post-Divorce Holidays
Helping your child through the holidays after a divorce can be challenging. Itís likely that youíre having a difficult time coping with the season yourself, which makes it even harder to focus on what your child is experiencing. Follow these tips to help your child survive and to keep your own sanity.


November 2006 - Triage for Parenting Problems
Everyone occasionally has conflicts with their ex over visitation and parenting time. After all, if you agreed about everything, you would still be married. While most divorced parents experience problems with the other parent from time to time, many parents donít know how to handle these problems.


October 2006 - Transitions
When you share parenting with your ex, you spend a lot of time transferring your child from one parent to the other. These transitions can difficult, because not only do you have to interact with the other parent, but you also have to help your child adjust to what can be really a big change for him or her.


September 2006 - Back to School, Back to Schedules
As your child heads back to school, this is a good time to re-evaluate and tweak your parenting schedule. Fall is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings and a chance to get organized in all aspects of your life.


August 2006 - Making Changes
Because children are always growing and changing, no parenting schedule will work forever. Instead, you should think of your parenting plan as something that fluctuates and changes with your child. Itís easy to feel as though your parenting schedule is set in stone Ė after all, a judge ordered it.


July 2006 - Friends and Parenting Time
Friendships are an important part of life for kids, but making time for friends can become complicated when your child has divorced parents. Striking a balance between family and friends is difficult but possible.


June 2006 - In Sickness and In Health
One thing you can count on when you are a parent is that your child will get sick. Thereís simply no avoiding it. But when youíre sharing parenting time with your ex, childhood illnesses can play havoc with your schedules. Follow these tips for preserving your mental health when your childís physical health is on the wane.


April 2006 - Daddy Doesnít Make Me Clean My Room
Your child is living in two separate homes now. But even though they are two distinct places, they are both parts of the same family. Because of this there should be some similarities between the homes. Children should have responsibilities at both houses, no matter how much time they spend there.


March 2006 - Dealing with Dollars
An important part of most parenting arrangements has to do with money. If youíre the primary residential parent, itís likely your ex is paying you child support and is responsible for expenses like medical costs, school expenses and more. Money is a pretty dicey area for a divorced couple to begin with, but when you mix money with parenting, you often end up with a powder keg.


February 2006 - An Extra Step: Step-Grandparents
When you remarry, your child not only has a stepparent and possibly stepsiblings, but he or she suddenly has step-grandparents as well. The impact of the step-grandparent varies, depending on your family situation. But no matter how you slice it, step-grandparents add yet another layer to an already complicated family.


December 2005 - Avoid Gift Giving Gripes
Sharing the holidays with your ex can be a challenge. Arranging the schedule so that not only both parents, but also extended family, has time with your child can be a gargantuan task. However, one important aspect that most divorced parents donít give much consideration is having a cooperative approach to your childís gifts.


November 2005 - A List of Things for Divorced Parents to Be Thankful For
As a single parent, you may have good times and bad times, but there are always things to be thankful for.


October 2005 - Relocation
If you or your ex are relocating, you know it is going to be hard for your child to stay close to the non-residential parent. However, as the residential parent, there are many things you can do to encourage them to interact and many ways to provide support during this difficult adjustment.


September 2005 - Teens and Visitation
If you and the other parent divorced while your child was younger, the teen years can present some challenges in terms of your visitation schedule. A schedule that worked for an elementary school age child is not going to fit a teen. And, if you and the other parent have split during your childís teenage years, it can be difficult to devise a plan that will work for everyone involved simply because the teenage years are so difficult to parent during.


August 2005 - Live and Let Live
Getting accustomed to the divorce and the new parenting schedule was a huge change for you and your child. Once youíve got a schedule hammered out and have started to adjust to it, things should get easier, right? Well, not always. You and the other parent are now living apart and have embarked upon separate lives.


July 2005 - Avoiding the Revolving Courtroom Door
Itís to be expected that you and your ex are going to have some disagreements as you continue to parent your children together. All parents disagree and those who are separated or divorced are likely to have differing views on a lot of things. Having different opinions isnít a problem, as long as youíre able to find a way to work out the conflict on your own. You arenít going to always see things eye to eye, and youíre going to have to learn to compromise and work together somehow.


May 2005 - The Girlfriend
The girlfriend. She strikes terror in the heart of divorced mothers everywhere. When your ex gets a girlfriend itís challenging enough to deal with your own emotions, but when the girlfriend is suddenly a big part of your childís life, itís hard to know how to react.


April 2005 - Money Madness
For most divorced families, custody and visitation were set up simultaneously with child support. Because these things all have to do with your child and where he or she lives, they are intertwined in your mind. Somehow, you see them all as part of a package. But these two things should not be seen as dependent on each other or related.


March 2005 - Making Them Go
It happens in every family at one time or another. You have a parenting schedule in place that seems to be working pretty well with everyoneís schedules. And then one day, your child simply refuses to follow it. Most often this is a refusal to go on visitation with the nonresidential parent.


February 2005 - The No Show
Itís happened to a lot of single parents. You have your child packed up and ready to go with the other parent Ė and he doesnít show up. Your first reaction is pure and simple anger. Then you feel your childís pain and ache for the rejection he or she is feeling. You canít call the cops and have them haul your ex to your door to pick up your child, but there are other things you can do.


January 2005 - New Yearís Resolutions for Single Parents
The beginning of the year is an excellent time to make some changes that will make your life, and your childís life, much more bearable. Consider making some of these New Yearís resolutions.


December 2004 - Home Alone for the Holidays
If you share holidays with your ex, you may be facing a holiday alone this season without your child. It can be difficult to be separated from your child, but you can get through the holiday with these guidelines.


November 2004 - Donít Kill the Messenger
Once youíre separated, one of your goals is probably to have as little contact with your ex as possible. But, there are still things you need to communicate about Ė when the child support is going to be paid, what time youíll be dropping the kids off, whether you can switch weekends, and so on.


October 2004 - School Dances: Sharing Education Information
Although most children today do not live in a home with both of their biological parents, many schools still act as if all of their students do. Whether your child spends most of his or her time at your home, or at the other parentís home, you probably want to be informed and stay involved with your childís education. Unfortunately, many schools make this a challenge.


September 2004 - Whose Rules?
Separation and divorce means two homes for your child, and too often that means two completely different sets of rules. Itís hard enough for a kid to comply with one set of rules, but having two is a guarantee for confusion and disobedience from your kids and resentment and anger between parents. tries to provide quality information, but cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information, opinions or other content posted on the site. It is not intended as a substitute for and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting, tax, medical or other professional advice. It should not be construed as establishing a professional-client or professional-patient relationship. The applicability of legal principles is subject to amendment by the legislature, interpretation by the courts and different application by different judges and may differ substantially in individual situations or different states. Before acting on what you have read, it is important to obtain appropriate professional advice about your particular situation and facts. Access to and use of is subject to additional Terms and Conditions. is a secure site and respects your Privacy.

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