Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Tiger and Elin's Divorce Does Right

The Tiger Woods/Elin Nordegren divorce has finally been settled, with a settlement that sets a new financial record. Ms. Nordegren, who has sole physical custody of the couple’s two young children, is due to receive $750 million, as well as the house the family shares. This record-setting settlement, the latest disclosure in what has been a very public divorce since news of Mr. Wood's first infidelity, is already triggering a lot of controversy. At the center of this debate is a part of the divorce process that is often the most controversial - who gets what?

Celebrity divorces have become a part of our culture (along with celebrity dating, celebrity marriages, and celebrity marital trouble, in our constant desire for every little detail about the rich and famous). As Tiger’s behavior shows us, the celebrity lifestyle allows one to go wrong in big ways. And Mr. Woods' secret life is not so uncommon, given the available funds and time away from home.

What doesn't change with the tabloid headlines and the extra zeroes at the end of a paycheck are the difficulties which families must face going through a divorce, and the way that those behaviors are often reflected by the divorce settlement. When a spouse has been unfaithful, they are violating the marriage bond they formed with their partner. Marriage is a two way street and so is divorce. We do not know what went wrong with this marriage. What we do know is that Tiger Woods engaged in behavior that sealed it's end.

But now it comes to the children, and in this arena this couple is doing well.

News reports tell us that the settlement stipulates that Tiger Woods is not allowed to bring any woman around his kids, unless she is his wife. This is a very important point, and one that may curtail one of the major problems that crops up in this situation. His kids will be protected with this stipulation and it is not a bad idea. Let them grow older with less chance of being fodder for the paparazzi's lenses.

Naturally, everything is complicated by the Woods/Nordegren celebrity status. The large settlement looks like a trade-off: Tiger’s money for Elin’s silence. She can give no interviews or write any books about their relationship as part of the settlement. This is a good thing. Whether Elin got the money she wanted or not, her children need not be publicly exposed in a book or in any public statements. Over the years, it should be up to them to decide how much they appreciate or reject their famous mother and father.

Ultimately, in this and in all divorces, the children's well-being needs to take priority over any other factor.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Divorce – ADHD and You

ADHD can be found in approximately one in twenty kids. That is over one child per class and it is probably an underestimate. These kids are hyper, distracted, impulsive, poorly organized, and irritating. They are often intelligent, but have difficulty learning due to their distracted state of mind. Their hyperactivity can be so intense that their parents feel like pulling out their hair because they can’t keep up. This is a true medical condition that can be treated.

When the diagnosis is missed, the chance of children with ADHD becoming involved with drugs and alcohol (as teenagers) is heightened due to their impulsivity and the degree to which they feel rejected by everyone around them.

Divorce can make ADHD worse. This is not a biochemical process, it is a social process. In the midst of a divorce, parents are more distracted and kids are more emotional. If Johnny lives in two homes and has to bring all of his books back and forth, they just not make it and he’ll be penalized when he gets to school.

ADHD kids often have parents with the same disorder. Without help, the actions of the distracted child can be magnified by their distracted parents.

So what can you do? A lot.

First you need to understand that ADHD is highly treatable. Medications can help a great deal – they can aid the frontal lobe in its organization. Psycho stimulants are the most common type of medication for a child with ADHD, but there are others to choose from as well.

In school, kids should sit in the front of the class. Being in the back reduces the presence of the teacher and the likelihood of impulsive activity by the child becomes greater. If they’re in the front, they are less likely to be distracted by those around them and more attentive to teacher in front of them.

When you’re an ADHD parent – if you had this as a kid, it may be worse for you. Get some help yourself. You’ll be surprised how good modern medicine can be in aiding your attentiveness, and more specifically, your parenting abilities.

In a nutshell, pay attention to paying attention.

Divorce - Going to the Movies

Movies can be a wonderful way to connect to your kids as your family go through a divorce. The reason for this is because of a psychological relief called displacement. Let me explain.

When you directly ask your kids how they feel about the divorce, it’s sometimes difficult for them to explain. It’s too weird for them and the question is emotionally charged. If you ask, they may not answer, cry, go straight to their room, or say, “leave me alone.” Any of these responses means that they’re flooded with feeling and they can’t handle it.

A direct question is simply too much. Fortunately, there is a technique to handle this -it’s called displacement. With this, you can talk about a movie, book, or someone else’s life – use similar situations that aren’t your own as a proxy to talk about what they’re going through.

Good Divorce Movies:

In the 1998 classic Mrs. Doubtfire, Sally Fields files for divorce and gains custody of her three children. Faced with little choice, Robin Williams, the father, pretends to their nanny in order to spend time with his children. It is a hysterical and moving portrait of an American family dealing with divorce.

Liar Liar is a 1997 classic starring Jim Carrey who portrays a dishonest, newly divorced father who is terribly involved with his work (sounds familiar?) His child’s birthday wish is that he never lies anymore. This wish comes true, and sets off a series of events that leads to a warm reunion homecoming of sorts.

Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy, is a 2009 heart warmer in which he plays a divorced father who reconnects to his daughter after a separation with his wife. Apparently his daughter has special powers which allow him to do his job better. However, Murphy was too involved with work, creating a major strain in his relationship with his family. Murphy’s transition from a workaholic into a loving father sends an important message – both endearing and wonderful for young children.

These movies allow you to sit down and enjoy some quality time with your child. After the movie, you can talk and allow them to express their reactions to it. The very fact that you sat together and enjoyed the movie shows that they have internalized what is happening in your household.

It’s important for them to know that they’re not the only ones and they’ll get through it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Divorce- Is truth always a good thing?

Truth is a great value, but it is not the only value by which we live. When it comes to kids, their health and well-being trumps everything else. We bring them into the world fresh and innocent. If you’re going through a divorce, your children were probably born into an intact family. This is what they know – a solid, caring team who loves them.

Much will change with a divorce. A child is no longer able to be with both of their parents at the same time, under the same roof. Their sense of security can be lessened and they must adapt to a new way of life.

Do you really want to tell them the truth? Should they know that their father had an affair and left their mother (and them)? Do you want them to know about their mother’s alcoholism, or that Mom and Dad haven’t had sex for the last ten years? I’m not so sure.
There is a lot in life that’s private. Kids need to have their innocence. This means that they need not know everything – explicit details are better left unsaid. In my mind, their mental health trumps truth.

This opinion is not always embraced by parents, particularly a parent who feels wronged or defamed. That parent wants the child to carry the same opinion about the other parent that they carry. Here’s something to remember, your children are not you. They are entitled to their own opinions.

So what about the truth? In most cases, it’s best to keep the full truth to yourself because it’s safe to say that the truth hurts. Obviously if a parent is violent, disturbed, or grossly mismanaging a child, their access needs t o be limited. That’s what the courts are for.

Children will ultimately come to their own conclusion about their parents. If a parent is a selfish narcissist who is always unavailable, the child will get it. It’s their call whether they have negative opinions about their mother or father, not yours.

At the end of the day, it’s their relationship. And that, my friends, is the truth.

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