Coach Mediate Consult https://coachmediateconsult.com Karen Bonnell, MS Tue, 20 Jun 2017 21:25:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lead with Curiosity: Tips for Skillful Co-Parenting https://coachmediateconsult.com/lead-with-curiosity-tips-for-skillful-co-parenting/ Sun, 28 Feb 2016 17:39:35 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7565 “Max ran in the door announcing he was getting a hover board at his dad’s, and I thought I was going to come unglued. We’d already talked about the dangers, recalls, and, and, WE’D AGREED: ‘no hover board’!! So, I picked up the phone (texted, emailed).” OK, you can already imagine that this could go

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Question symbol“Max ran in the door announcing he was getting a hover board at his dad’s, and I thought I was going to come unglued. We’d already talked about the dangers, recalls, and, and, WE’D AGREED: ‘no hover board’!! So, I picked up the phone (texted, emailed).”

OK, you can already imagine that this could go one of two ways, right? Let’s play it out. Beth could accuse (rightfully or not):

  • “What are you doing getting Max a hover board after we had decided he wasn’t to have one!?! What’s wrong with you – you always have to be the ‘cool parent’ rather than the real parent.”

Or, Beth might lead with curiosity:

  • “Martin, can I talk to you for a moment? Max just came in telling me he’s getting a hover board at your house?? (said in curious, clarifying, questioning tone) My understanding is that we’ve agreed that he’s not to have a hover board. Could you please clarify?

Co-parenting requires maturity and restraint.

Whether we’re talking about Martin’s restraint regarding Max’s repeated requests for a hover board when he and Beth had already discussed and agreed ‘no hover board’ or Beth’s restraint in using skillful communication and assuming the best about Martin – even when she’s upset – until she has more information.

Let’s look at Martin’s response:

  • “For crying out loud, Beth, I didn’t tell Max he could have a hover board to use. I told him we’d get a hover board to take apart together and look at the issues involved in construction. You know Max has always loved taking things apart – we have a mini-me electrical engineer on our hands!”

Rebuilding trust with your co-parent can take time. Settling down the emotional tone, practicing curious questions, working toward constructive problem-solving, and making and keeping agreements are keys.  Accusations, lecturing, blaming, micro-managing, raging, attacking are all ineffective methods of problem-solving, communicating and laying a path for a better future.

Co-parenting can involve a long game. Keep in mind that everyone in the family is re-finding their balance, building new skills, and working with difficult emotions. Giving some grace while keeping your eye on the future you want for your children – one where both parents provide an atmosphere of love and care without undue stress between you. Meanwhile, you use the skills you can be proud of, model what you want your children to witness and emulate in their relationships.

Don’t sweat the small stuff; problem-solve constructively the important stuff.

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The Parenting Plan Handbook :: now available! https://coachmediateconsult.com/the-parenting-plan-handbook-now-available/ Thu, 14 Jan 2016 04:51:49 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7553 We know kids do best when parents understand their children’s deep desire to stay connected to and be cared for by both of them during and after separation/divorce. A skillful parenting plan describes the structure, predictability and rhythm that ensure both parents can emerge from the uncertainty of separation/divorce into stable two-home family life. The

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We know kids do best when parents understand their children’s deep desire to stay connected to and be cared for by both of them during and after separation/divorce. A skillful parenting plan describes the structure, predictability and rhythm that ensure both parents can emerge from the uncertainty of separation/divorce into stable two-home family life. The agreements and guidelines set-out in your parenting plan establish clarity about your responsibilities to one another, specify essential co-parenting tasks, and minimize unnecessary conflict.

Children thrive when confidence and security are present and parents think through parenting plan decisions, come to agreements, and implement changes to their family in a mature, non-adversarial manner.

Come learn with us. We’ll share with you our 25 plus years of experience working with families facing transitions as they emerge into bright futures with well-adjusted children. You will have at your fingertips 1) nearly four hours of video coaching, 2) a downloadable companion workbook that follows along with videos chapter by chapter, and 3) a fillable PDF “Parenting Plan Worksheet” supplement to use with your co-parent and share with your divorce professionals.

The “C-Words” of a strong, child-centered parenting plan:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Conflict-management
  • Child-centered
  • Co-Parenting

With these in mind, The Parenting Plan Handbook in hand, and your divorce professionals as  resources, you’re ready to begin skillfully building a strong, child-centered parenting plan. For more information go to: www.theparentingplanhandbook.com.

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Co-Parenting Grads and Brides https://coachmediateconsult.com/co-parenting-grads-and-brides/ Sat, 23 May 2015 04:05:47 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7486 Your ability to navigate co-parenting experiences for your young adult and adult child without stress and strain is one of the most important gifts you give them. Every piece of foundation you’ve built to show each other respectful cordiality, maintain healthy boundaries, and stay child-focused allows your most precious one to enjoy his or her

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Beautiful brideYour ability to navigate co-parenting experiences for your young adult and adult child without stress and strain is one of the most important gifts you give them. Every piece of foundation you’ve built to show each other respectful cordiality, maintain healthy boundaries, and stay child-focused allows your most precious one to enjoy his or her special event free from unresolved divorce issues.

You owe your child no less. If you haven’t done this already, it’s time you pull it together and put the past where it belongs; show up to the present for your child in a way that honors his/her special moments.

When I work with parents initiating the divorce process, I ask them to imagine their child’s high school graduation. Imagining that they’re sitting on opposite sides of the auditorium, we walk through the experience of watching their graduate – sitting next to his/her best friend from middle school – move the tassel from one side of the cap to the other and then stand up and toss it in the air as high as possible. We hear the processional begin and imagine watching the kids file out into the foyer. Each parent begins to text “congratulations…” Often, one is or both are holding back tears.

Then I ask: “What do you want your grad to be thinking about as he/she walks out?”

  • “Oh god, what should I do – should I talk to Mom first or Dad? … I’m with my Dad this week, maybe I should talk to him first. What if Mom gets upset and leaves?”

OR, do you hope he/she will be thinking…

  • “Oh good – they’ll both be the Coke machine! Sweet…can’t wait to see them!”

These are choices that we as co-parents set up for our children from this moment forward. Strong co-parenting takes the stressing and guessing out of special events for kids. Parents take care of their own feelings, focus on their children, and enjoy life-cycle events with honor.

Strong co-parenting does not require friendship. This past summer, I attended a wedding where both parents walked their daughter down the aisle together – just as she had always hoped and imagined.  This act of co-parenting occurred after years of never sitting on the same side of the gym for an athletic event. As the new bride’s husband walked her back after the ceremony, her father offered one arm to his ex-wife’s elderly mother and the other to his ex-wife and escorted them both back down the aisle. That’s strong, respectful co-parenting.

Talk to your bride/groom about what she/he wants from you regarding rehearsal dinner, family photos, ceremony and reception – let your children design what’s meaningful to THEM. Be gracious with each other at every step – from engagement party through reception. Honor each other. Make your adult child’s special events as seamless and as memorable as possible. Your commitment to being the best parents you can be becomes a tremendous act of service that pays dividends in your child’s memories of their special day forever.

Remember: Divorce ends a relationship, but doesn’t delete a family. The two of you will always be your child’s parents – an enduring and indelible relationship.

If you’re struggling with how to come together for your child’s special events, or your significant other is struggling with how to handle you being a part of these important “parent” events with your co-parent, consult a co-parent coach. Get support and guidance for how everyone can successfully share space with ease so kids can have their moment in the spotlight. And cherish the realization of your “job well-done!”

For more, read or listen to “The Co-Parents’ Handbook” available on Amazon/Audible.

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The D-Word: Divorce through a Child’s Eyes https://coachmediateconsult.com/the-d-word-divorce-through-a-childs-eyes/ Thu, 30 Apr 2015 03:52:07 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7476 Kristin’s back with another book review… There are lots of books that speak about divorce, but few capture divorce in a child’s voice. “The D-Word: Divorce through a Child’s Eyes” written by Tara Eisenhard does just that. Tara gives a kid’s view of the fear, anger, struggles… and thankfully the healing that divorce can bring

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The D-WordKristin’s back with another book review…

There are lots of books that speak about divorce, but few capture divorce in a child’s voice. “The D-Word: Divorce through a Child’s Eyes” written by Tara Eisenhard does just that.

Tara gives a kid’s view of the fear, anger, struggles… and thankfully the healing that divorce can bring into a child’s life.

Speaking with Tara, she explains that the book grew out of her own desire to express that “families can evolve not dissolve through the process.” She speaks from the experience of not only her parents’ divorce, but also her own.

Through the main character, 12 year-old Gina, Tara skillfully weaves Gina’s experience with the experiences of other family members in a manner that encourages readers to consider the range of perspectives as family members divulge their unique emotional experiences. When we’re in the throes of divorce, those other perspectives are often missed. The book addresses some of the harder aspects such as high conflict, alienation of a parent, loss of childhood ease, and the struggles of adolescence. However the book also addresses how important those small moments of positive change can be in paving the way to healing, acceptance and moving forward.

Tara does a great job with authentic dialogue and wonderful characters, which bring to life the struggle with loss and change for any family going through divorce.

As a professional, it reads with a kind of depth that ties together clinical knowledge about what helps and what hurts children – with the heart of a child’s experience. I would recommend “The D-Word” to other professionals who work with children and families, or parents who are ready and willing to delve into the complex feelings of a child’s experience of divorce.

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A Wonderful New Resource: “Kids First, Parents Second” Project https://coachmediateconsult.com/a-wonderful-new-resource-kids-first-parents-second-project/ Thu, 26 Mar 2015 03:07:40 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7463 Matt Sossi, a family law attorney in San Antonio, Texas, and his wife Becky, an author of children’s books have partnered together to create something unique and special to help families as they go through a desperate time – divorce. I spoke to Matt, who explained his legal career working with high conflict divorce cases

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Matt Sossi, a family law attorney in San Antonio, Texas, and his wife Becky, an author of children’s books have partnered together to create something unique and special to help families as they go through a desperate time – divorce. I spoke to Matt, who explained his legal career working with high conflict divorce cases and the hours spent in courts in front of judges. After watching the damage done to families, he was compelled to create a better way forward for kids and parents.

He turned his focus to helping clients resolve their differences outside of the courtroom by creating an interdisciplinary team – utilizing mental health professionals on his family law cases. Matt explains, “Parents make better decisions about their family than lawyers.” He began providing the tools so parents could do just that.

Combining his family law experience and his wife’s gift for writing, Matt and Becky created the website and support program “Kids First, Parents Second.” The program provides a breath of valuable resources such as books, games, kid activities and kid workshops! Highlighting a couple of their wonderful books such as “Mommy and Daddy Troubles” and “You’re an Apple and You Married and Orange,” the Sossi’s offer important ideas to children about why parents divorce, how children are not to blame, and how parents can work together even if living apart. Exploring further, you’ll find child-focused materials that promote emotional awareness and activities for parent-child interactions that reassure.

Matt explains that the project has been two years in the making. The work continues to expand to meet the needs of divorcing families. Currently, they offer a group for younger children (“Little Fruits”) and groups for older children are in the planning stage to assist children as they adjust and understand their changing family.

I’m always exited to hear of professionals developing approaches that decrease conflict and increase a focus on maintaining “healthy family” during and beyond divorce/separation. I’ll be keeping my eye on this website for more innovativev activities and books to suggest to the families I work with. Let me suggest you might want to do the same! Check it out!!

Kidsfirstparentssecond.org

Kris

 

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A Family Fortune https://coachmediateconsult.com/a-family-fortune/ Sun, 22 Mar 2015 16:32:08 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7456 “I dare anyone to call this a broken home.” Just wanted to share one of my favorite excerpts by American essayist Barbara Kingsolver: “In the catalog of family values, where do we rank an occasion like this? A curly-haired boy who wanted to run before he walked, age seven now, a soccer player scoring a

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“I dare anyone to call this a broken home.”

Just wanted to share one of my favorite excerpts by American essayist Barbara Kingsolver:

“In the catalog of family values, where do we rank an occasion like this? A curly-haired boy who wanted to run before he walked, age seven now, a soccer player scoring a winning goal. He turns to the bleachers with his fists in the air and a smile wide as a gap-toothed galaxy. His own cheering section of grownups and kids all leap to their feet and hug each other, delirious with love for this boy. … The cheering section includes his mother and her friends, his brother, his father and stepmother, a stepbrother and stepsister, and a grandparent. Lucky is the child with many relatives on hand to hail a proud accomplishment. I’m there too, witnessing a family fortune. … I am thinking: I dare anyone to call this a broken home.”

Resolving feelings allows co-parents to build their child’s family fortune. Need help? Talk to someone you trust, a co-parent coach, counselor, clergy…to heal your heart.

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The Summer Planning Meeting: All about Kids & Summer! https://coachmediateconsult.com/the-march-planning-meeting-all-about-kids-summer/ Tue, 17 Mar 2015 02:47:41 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7451 Three times a year we encourage parents to sit down together at a coffee shop or similar and think ahead to plan for their children. Now is the perfect time to think about summer! Let’s get those vacations-with-parents on the books, discuss the timing for special extended-family events (weddings, reunions, birthdays), summer camps, activities, weekends

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Three times a year we encourage parents to sit down together at a coffee shop or similar and think ahead to plan for their children. Now is the perfect time to think about summer!

Let’s get those vacations-with-parents on the books, discuss the timing for special extended-family events (weddings, reunions, birthdays), summer camps, activities, weekends at the cabin, and child-care.

When parents anticipate kids’ needs, life in a two-home family runs much smoother for everyone.

Like each Planning Meeting (in August – covering the first semester of school, and in January – covering the second semester of school), in March/April, parents follow-up on special events, developmental needs, health care planning, educational needs (summer school this year? driver’s education?), athletics and any other agenda items. Parents consider and plan for whatever’s relevant to the kids and their two-home family life for this upcoming summer.

Who’s signing which kids up for what camps? Bring the camp and day-care information to your business meeting so you’re equipped to evaluate timing and cost in the overall arc of summer activities and fun.

Is someone playing Little League or going to Cheer Camp? As kids get older, summer becomes an extension of their on-going busy schedules and an additional practice field for their year-round sports. Making equipment decisions, resolving concerns about supervision, and setting boundaries on what’s possible is all part of being strong co-parents.

Now is the perfect time to review summer clothing needs. Kids grow! What does the oldest need this summer, what can be handed down, and what simply needs to be replaced. Together parents can divide the tasks and conquer managing some of these important day-to-day considerations.

It’s also an opportune time to touch base on current academic performance and the spring extracurricular schedule. Are we on track for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, and Memorial Day weekend? Do we have prom or graduation to plan for?

When parents plan, bring their agenda to the meeting, take good notes, type them up and distribute, conflict is diminished, communication strengthened and kids lives move forward!

More on the Tri-Annual Co-Parent Planning Meetings in “The Co-Parents’ Handbook” available on Amazon. If you believe you and your co-parent are ready to try and planning meeting, but would like help, ask a co-parent coach or family therapist to facilitate your first meeting or two. Find your way to what works!

 

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A Child’s Heart https://coachmediateconsult.com/childs-heart/ Sun, 08 Mar 2015 17:14:46 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7446 A child’s heart belongs to her parents. In divorce, a child continues to hold each parent in her heart. When there’s on-going conflict between parents, the little one’s heart hurts from carrying the conflict in her own little chest. “The Co-Parents’ Handbook” helps parents do better.

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Child's Heart

A child’s heart belongs to her parents. In divorce, a child continues to hold each parent in her heart. When there’s on-going conflict between parents, the little one’s heart hurts from carrying the conflict in her own little chest.

“The Co-Parents’ Handbook” helps parents do better.

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So Honored by Randy Cheek’s Review of “The Co-Parents’ Handbook” https://coachmediateconsult.com/honored-randy-cheeks-review-co-parents-handbook/ Wed, 25 Feb 2015 04:23:11 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7435 The Co-parents’ Handbook by Karen Bonnell with Kristin Little is a welcome addition to the literature on co-parenting. Karen, with Kristin’s help have written a contemporary volume to assist parents who are considering divorce or are divorced. They obviously have years of experience and sensitivity in working with families living in two homes. Their style

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The Co-parents’ Handbook by Karen Bonnell with Kristin Little is a welcome addition to the literature on co-parenting. Karen, with Kristin’s help have written a contemporary volume to assist parents who are considering divorce or are divorced. They obviously have years of experience and sensitivity in working with families living in two homes. Their style is direct in addressing potentially high conflict topics. They offer parents suggestions to reduce conflict and settle disagreements. This volume can offer parents hope for a different future, one that could have a greater degree of cooperation.

As a family therapist who specializes in co-parenting counseling I was especially touched by the section of the book focusing on building resilience in children. They offer some simple and direct activities for parents to help their children survive and thrive in two homes. I recently taught a course for parents considering divorce and used The Co-parents’ Handbook as a course textbook. I keep a copy out in my office so I can show parents the book I am recommending. Karen and Kristin, thank you for nurturing this book from an idea through to publication.

Randy Cheek, M.F.T., Co-parenting Counselor, Mediator and Collaborative Coach; Past President of Collaborative Practice California and Past President of Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire.

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Kristin’s Book Corner “Let’s Talk About It: Divorce” https://coachmediateconsult.com/kristins-book-corner-lets-talk-divorce/ Wed, 11 Feb 2015 04:00:57 +0000 https://coachmediateconsult.com/?p=7429 The photos might be a bit outdated, but Mr. Roger’s calm, reassuring approach never goes out of style — and comes through on every page of this wonderful little book. “Let’s Talk About It: Divorce” builds upon a central theme: all children need families to love and care for them as they grow. With simple

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The photos might be a bit outdated, but Mr. Roger’s calm, reassuring approach never goes out of style — and comes through on every page of this wonderful little book.

“Let’s Talk About It: Divorce” builds upon a central theme: all children need families to love and care for them as they grow.

With simple sentences and lots of photos, the book is best for pre-readers and early readers. As the author posits in the introduction, the book invites parents with their children to discuss their unique family. What I appreciate is that with very few words, the book manages to hit upon the major questions and concerns of most pre-school and early school age children such as:

  • Where will I live?
  • Who will take care of me?
  • What will change?
  • And what will stay the same?

 “Some things will stay the same, even with a divorce. Your mother will always be your mother …and your father will always be your father.”

In addition, the book succeeds at “planting seeds” that validate children’s common concerns in divorce:

  • Children are not to blame,
  • Parents have their own feelings about divorce that are not for children to fix,
  • And that it is okay to have fun and play.

Mr. Rogers explains about a full range of common emotions and emphasizes that children may feel different feelings at different times. With comforting reassurance, he suggests kid-friendly ways to cope such as talking, playing, being with others, or being alone in a special place.

“Let’s Talk about It: Divorce” is gentle and warm without minimizing children’s feelings and experiences. It provides kids both a framework for anticipating change while conveying hope and health.

For parents, he reminds us of the simple ways we can support our kiddos by maintaining their foundation of family.  

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