Guest Post Handling holiday hassles with an Ex that hates you

Handling holiday hassles with an Ex that hates you

by Christina McGhee  | divorce coach | speaker |  author
divorceandchildren.com | parenting-apart.com
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Heather felt that familiar sense of dread. December was always the worst. Although she and Brian had been divorced for over three years, the holidays continued to be complicated and miserable.

Despite her best efforts to keep things friendly, there was zero flexibility. If Molly or Jack had holiday parties or special events, Brian would insist on following court orders to the tee. Anytime she tried to talk to him about adjusting the schedule he would end up calling her every name in the book and accuse her of interfering with his relationship with the kids.

Of course, it didn’t stop there. Last year, Brian bought both of the kids brand new iphones so they could call him whenever they wanted.  Heather was beside herself, Jack and Molly were only seven and nine-years-old. Brian also told them that since he paid for the phones Mom couldn’t take them away.  If she tried, the kids had been instructed to let him know right away.

The worst part was how the conflict was impacting Molly and Jack. After a huge meltdown over bedtime, Jack blurted out, “Dad thinks you’re a bad mom. He wants us to use our phones to take videos of you when you’re doing things wrong but I don’t want to. I think you’re a good mom.”

Heather felt hopeless, helpless and overwhelmed by Brian’s unrelenting antics. She just didn’t understand why it had to be this way.

Although your Ex’s holiday hate campaign may feel up close and personal, the truth is it’s often not about you.  High-conflict parents usually have a lot more going on under the hood than the fact that they were once married to you.  Typically, there is a host of underlying issues that contribute to their “my way or the highway” attitudes such as an intense need for control, depression, low self-esteem, inability to tolerate rejection, unresolved bitterness, family history or mental health issues.

Coparents with high-conflict personalities don’t know how to manage their emotions effectively.  They tend to use anger, blame and shame as outlets for their own frustration and fear.  Not surprisingly when the holidays hit, emotions go into overdrive. Instead of managing their feelings responsibly, high-conflict parents set their sights on making you miserable.

This holiday season, if you have an Ex that seems dedicated to cultivating chaos, here are a few strategies worth considering.

Practice acceptance
While understanding the dynamics of high-conflict can be extremely helpful, trying to psychoanalyze your Ex is not. In my coaching practice, I encourage parents to stop spending precious time and energy trying to change their Ex’s hateful behavior. The truth is the only person who can change your Ex, is your Ex.

Instead, it’s far more helpful to you and your kids if you conserve your energy, shift your expectations and practice acceptance.  While there’s nothing wrong with being hopeful that someday things will change, for now, consider adopting the philosophy, “It is what It is.” Focus on what you can control this holiday season, your own behavior and choices.

Practice making small shifts in your expectations to help you get some emotional distance from your Ex’s contentious behavior.

Keep your holiday communication consistent
No matter how your Ex behaves this holiday season, do your best to maintain consistency in your communication.

When your Ex sends you a snarky email or text filled with personal jabs and insults, resist the urge to hit reply and defend yourself. Instead, do your best to practice positive co-parenting etiquette and focus on crafting a KIND reply (Kid-Centered, Informational, Nice and Direct).

Not sure where to start?  Try this.

Stay KID-CENTERED
Evaluate what part of the email or text has to do with the kids and response to that first.Be INFORMATIONAL 
When things heat up, you may feel the need to set the record straight, keep in mind that sending back a logical, rational response outlining your version of the truth probably isn’t going to help. Most likely your Ex will just view it as an invitation to ramp up the nastiness. Best to avoid getting personal. Instead, focus on being INFORMATIONAL and only respond to what needs to be addressed.

Keep it NICE
Does your Ex deserve a polite, friendly response? Probably not, but that’s not the point. Throwing a little shade your Ex’s way may make you feel better in the moment, but in the long-run, it won’t help your kids. During the holiday season (and all year long actually) do what you can to keep the tone of your communication respectful and civil.

For the record, being nice doesn’t mean saying you’re sorry. Avoid apologizing when things get intense. High-conflict parents will view it as a weakness, put their own spin on it and use it against you.

Remain DIRECT
This is where less is more. To keep things short and sweet, think of your response as a series of tweets.

After you write your reply, re-read it and edit out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. If the issue at hand isn’t time-sensitive, let it sit for a few hours and then re-read it with a fresh set of eyes.

Play offense
If you have been dealing with a difficult Ex, chances are you have a pretty good idea of what to expect when holidays or special events crop up.  Although you can’t plan for every possible situation, do what you can to make holiday events a worry-free experience for your kids.

Imagine Leyla has a starring role in the school’s holiday play and both you and your Ex will be there.  Without a doubt, Leyla has enough to be anxious about without worrying which parent she will walk up to after the program is over.

Suppose Dad knows Mom isn’t gracious about sharing time. One way Dad could help Leyla out is by letting her off the hook before the big night. He could offer Mom the opportunity to take Leyla for ice cream after the play.  When Mom drops Leyla off, he could spend some extra time chatting with Leyla about her big night while tucking her in bed.

He could also say something like, “Since both your Mom and I will be at the play tonight, why don’t you go say hi to her first, and I’ll wait for you by the front office.” Either way, Leyla gets to focus on the play instead of her parents.

Put kids in the center not the middle
Conflict between parents is incredibly confusing and anxiety provoking for kids. Most really struggle to make sense of a parent’s hateful reaction.  After all don’t we routinely tell our kids to be nice even when they don’t feel like it?   When things are intense between parents, some kids may handle their anxiety by taking sides and get mad at you (“Why do you have to make everything so difficult?”).  Others may completely shut down, withdraw or go into avoidance mode (“I don’t want to talk about it”) or feel a strong pull to be loyal and tell each parent what they think they want to hear.

If a holiday clash comes up, shift your attention to how the situation feels for your kids.  Do your best to help them process their feelings about the problem without involving them in the disagreement.

Suppose Dad wants to take Hugh and Owen skiing over the winter break but needs Mom to give up some of her time with the kids.   Let’s say Dad tells the boys about the trip without talking to Mom first. To add a little pressure Dad adds, “I hope your Mom won’t be selfish and ruin this for us. It’s going to be such a fun trip. I don’t know why she always has to a make a big deal out of us spending time together. It’s just a couple of days.” Let’s assume Mom has already made plans for her holiday time with the boys. Mom could really blow her top and give Hugh and Owen an earful about how Dad should have talked to her first.

Instead, Mom considers how all this feels for Hugh and Owen.  While it’s tempting to tell them her side of the story she stays committed to keeping them out of the middle and stay focused on how this feels for them. Maybe she says something like, “I wish Dad had talked to me first about his plans, this must totally suck for you. I know how much you both enjoy skiing. While I’m open to hearing what you want to do,  the holiday schedule is something your Dad, and I need to work out.  I don’t agree with how Dad has handled this.” Notice the focus is on the problem, Dad not communicating with Mom…not the person, Dad.

Be willing to bend not break
While coparenting involves a certain degree of flexibility, it doesn’t mean you should never stand your ground. When dealing with a difficult and demanding Ex, it can be tempting to give them what they want just to avoid another confrontation.

The problem with giving in and giving up is you’re ultimately reinforcing bullying behavior. It won’t take long for your Ex to figure out they can get whatever they want if they just keep being nasty.

Instead of basing your flexibility on what your Ex may or may not do, consider asking yourself, “How will my being flexible benefit the kids?” If your Ex is asking you to change the holiday pick-up time and it makes life easier for your children, then switching is a no-brainer. However, if changing times makes things complicated for them, then you’re probably better off holding firm on what time the kids get picked up.

Dealing with a conflictual coparent can be both mentally and emotionally exhausting. During this holiday season make sure you’re paying attention to your own needs so you can go the distance and shield your kids from holiday hassles.  If the tension and conflict seem to be getting worse, consider getting some professional support or working with a divorce coach to help you up your conflict management game.

Do you have any success strategies for dealing with a difficult Ex?  Hop on over to the blog and chime in!

Questions about how to handle holiday hassles?  Drop by my facebook pageand get a conversation started.

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WSPD Interview About CRC

Intake Form Supervised and Monitored Vists

To save some time you can print out this form and fill out before your intake appointment. Please call on Tues, Wed, or Thurs. between 10a-1p to schedule an intake appointment. (419) 473-8955

Intake Form

No One Should Have to Pay to See Their Kids

Indeed! We at CRC agree no one should have to pay to visit their own child(ren) at our center. Unfortunately it’s the only way our doors stay open. It’s sometimes assumed that Children’s Rights Collaborative is part of the court system, children’s services or even United Way. We are not part of any other organization we do this on our own …for the last 16 years.

We have to charge for services because we are not funded by any organization or even many donors. We are very grateful to the Lucas County Domestic Court for the stipend they give our parents for visits, this takes some of the pressure off parents.

We try and have different and fun fundraisers on a regular basis to also help offset funds. How can you help? Any number of ways. Talk about us, share our posts on social media, volunteer, donate. No matter what you do you will be making a difference.

Information Brochure for Parents

Click the following link for a informational brochure for parents needing our services.  crcbrochure_parents

Welcome

supervised visitationThe Children’s Rights Collaborative of NW Ohio(CRC) program provides children and their parents with a safe, nurturing environment for supervised visitation and exchanges, allowing a child to have his or her relationship with the non-custodial parent without being placed in the middle of the parents’ conflicts. Emphasis is placed on the safety and well-being of the child or children, as well as the victim in cases of domestic violence. Families and relationships can’t heal if they aren’t nurtured. We hope by what we do we help in the healing.

Anyone from any family can end up coming to CRC, not because they are a bad parent but because they have an issue or issues that they need to get under control to prove to all involved that they are ready and able to be the parent the child needs and deserves. Parents come to us for many reasons but all are here because they want to have a relationship with their child. CRC wants to make the child feel comfortable in a situation that is anything but comfortable.

The Effects of Divorce on Children Guest Post

The Effects of Divorce on Children

For the parent’s side, the topic of divorce can bring several fears. Fear of what’s going to happen next, effects-of-divorce-on-childrenhow the family members would cope with it, especially for the kids.

The effects of divorce on children can be very devastating, most especially if they are still young in age. Divorce is a strong force that causes the family’s bond and relationship to weaken and falter slowly; no child would ever want to go through seeing their parents break-up and not be together.

To delve into how divorce affects children here is some information about it. Changes that are seen and felt by the kids, their relationships with others, and their overall state after the family’s wreckage will be tackled.

  1. Capacity to Learn will be affected greatly

Studies have shown that children whose parents are divorced tend to have a weaker capacity regarding learning. The absence of a father makes young children have lower cognitive skills, particularly for the girls. Moving home is also a big factor for the children since they are going to be very attached to their home especially when their parents break up; they’ll most likely be out of focus in school and won’t be able to do well.

  1. Styles in handling conflict will change

Children from divorced parents would tend to have a destructive style in handling conflict. Compared to those with intact families, the children who have been through the divorce of their parents would often grow up into persons who would resort to violence in resolving a conflict. They are more likely to become very aggressive and would have communication problems with people around him/her. Especially for those who have seen their parents shout and fight with each other, they are most likely to be someone who shouts and gets aggressive like that.

  1. Playing the ‘blame game.’

For kids, it is very unsightly to see your parents break up. That experience would make him/her rebel against that change (divorce) in one way or another. Each kid would have different styles and ways to express their anger and in blaming their parents. They would tend to blame everything unto their parents, do rebellious acts, and take the pity of everyone else.

  1. Children would leave home earlier

With their family’s relationship on the rocks due to divorce, a child would tend to leave their home earlier for whatever reason there is — to get married or live together with someone or to just move out and live on their own. Children from divorced parents are also likely to cohabit or get married earlier.

 

  1. More likely to get divorced in the future

Marital instability would probably be passed onto the next one in the family, which is why divorce rates would be higher. Daughters who are from divorced parents are the ones who tend to get divorced in their marriage, compared to the sons of divorced parents. Witnessing their parents go through a divorce is an image that won’t get erased easily, and it often leads to lower marital quality for the children.

the-effects-of-divorce-on-childrenDivorce is proven to take a toll on the children, as it not only affects them in the present but most especially on how they will be in the future. Their whole personality and attitude get affected; even their married life in the future and how they will treat the people around them are also at stake. It would be a whole lot better for the family’s sake if both of the parents can talk it out, settle their differences, accept each other’s flaws, or to just consult a divorce lawyer.

Trauma is probably something all kids with divorced parents had to go through. The break-up of their parents would always be a painful image etched in their hearts and minds. Although these effects aren’t happening or have happened to all, these are still very likely, and a lot must have experienced some.

Divorce and Its Effect on Children

supervised visitation

Going through a divorce is not easy for anyone involved. Outside of the divorcing couple themselves, others who may be impacted by a divorce include friends, family members, and most importantly — children. Divorce can have a profound — and oftentimes very negative — effect on children. That is not to say that a married couple who is considering divorce should not seek one for children’s sake, but it does mean that the psychological impact that divorce may have on children should be considered. If you are thinking about divorce, seek help from a professional who can guide you regarding divorce and its effect on children.

Factors Children Have to Cope with During Divorce

Although adolescents and younger children may respond to divorce differently, regardless of the age of a child when parents pursue a divorce, the child will undergo a massive life change. The Effects of Divorce on Children, published by Parenting 24/7, outlines some of the massive life changes that a child may have to cope with when parents divorce:

  • Loss of a parent. Many children of divorce lose the opportunity to interact with one of their parents (the non-custodial parent), or to form or maintain a deep bond with that parent.
  • Economic changes. It is not uncommon for a divorce to result in a significant change in financial circumstances for a child, often meaning fewer economic resources.
  • Conflict between parents. When a couple is divorcing, conflict is almost always an integral part of their relationship. When a child is exposed to this conflict, it may result in psychological harm.
  • Increased stress. The number of life stressors that a child is exposed to almost always increases as a result of a divorce. Changing schools, changing homes, changing neighborhoods, having to make new friends, and more can all be traumatic for a child. Often times, this is combined with poor parental adjustment as well.

 

Each of the factors above can have a negative effect on a child’s psyche and mental health.

 

Divorce and Its Effect on Children

There is no doubt that a child of divorce will undergo significant life changes. But how do these changes affect a child? Consider the following short-term and long-term effects of divorce on children:

 

Short-Term Effects of Divorce on Children

 The short-term effects for children may develop during the initial phase of the parents’ divorce — emotional divorce — before the divorce has been finalized legally. Due to the increased burden that is placed on children’s shoulders (often acting as a mediator between parents, being confused about which parent to love, etc.), short-term effects that divorce may have on children include:

  • Increased dependency in young children
  • Increased independence in adolescents
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Behavioral issues
  • Poor academic performance
  • Aggression
  • Poor self-esteem

 

The above may be demonstrated by the child acting out, developing a lisp or stutter, wetting the bed, or acting violently, among other things.

Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children

 If the above issues are not addressed, they may develop into long-term problems for the child. Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children, published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, highlights data suggesting that:

  • A problematic parent-child relationship may persist throughout the child’s life.
  • Children of divorce are more likely to express long-term discontent with their lives.
  • Moderate to severe clinical depression is not uncommon.
  • Children of divorce may have poorer physical health than children of non-divorced families.
  • Children of divorce may experience persistent problems with fears of betrayal, abandonment, and loss.
  • Children of divorce are affected socially as well as psychologically, and are more likely to exhibit earlier sexual intercourse, delinquent behaviors, lower socioeconomic status, and are more likely to give birth before marriage and divorce themselves.

Mitigating the Effects of Divorce on Children

 As a parent who is seeking a divorce, it is important that you take action to mitigate the negative short-term and long-term effects that divorce may have on your child(ren). It is suggested that you:

  • Never ask your child to make a choice about which parent he or she loves more.
  • Refrain from using your child as your emotional sounding board.
  • Never fight with your (ex)spouse in front of your child.
  • Try to minimize the stressors that your child is faced with.
  • Try to keep your child in the same home, same neighborhood, same school system, etc., if possible.
  • Never display anger with your spouse in front of your child.
  • Do not place your child in a position where he or she must pick sides in an argument.
  • Be sure your child knows that the divorce is not his or her fault.

Remind your children that both you and your former spouse love them very much. It is important to your children’s mental health that they maintain a healthy relationship with both you and your spouse.

Continue showing your children love and support no matter the outcome of divorce or a custody determination.

In many cases, seeking the help of a family counselor or child psychologist can be very useful. A mental health professional can provide you with advice on how to help your child cope with the divorce, and can work with your child to help him or her understand the divorce and the life changes that the child may be experiencing.

What a Family Law Attorney Can Do for You

Mark Gemma is a divorce attorney in Providence, RI. You can learn more about his practice at Gemma Law Firm

Intern Insider—Who Am I?

AllieF Intern Insider—Who Am I?

My name is Allie and I am the new intern here at Children’s Rights Collaborative. I am currently a senior criminal justice student at Bowling Green State University. This internship is the last part of my requirements before graduation. I must complete a 480 internship and at the end write a final paper about my experiences. My goals after graduation are to attend graduate school and then move on to law school to ultimately become an attorney. I’m hoping in my time here at CRC I am able to gain more knowledge about the benefits of children having the opportunities to have both parents in their lives. I’m eager to see what this summer holds for me here at Children’s Rights Collaborative.

Coping With Divorce – Guest Post

Supervised visitation momEvery year, and often seemingly out of the blue, many couples find themselves facing a divorce. Coping with divorce is one of the most challenging events a person will faces in their lifetime. Many mental-health experts even believe the hurt divorce causes can even exceed the pain experienced over the death of a loved one.

Though the turmoil, most people struggling to get through a divorce will run the gauntlet of emotions, from depression and despair, to anger and guilt, to a sense of relief and even joy. One of the hardest things to deal with during divorce is maintaining some semblance of a normal life while riding the emotional roller coaster. Most expert agree there are some critical steps, making up a three-part strategy, people should follow to help them cope with divorce.

Have a Support Network

The vast majority of people going through a divorce, especially those on the receiving end of a surprise announcement by a spouse, will need some type of support system to lean on. Typically, if one spouse drops a bombshell on the other, the person making the initial decision to leave has already made peace with themselves, their decision and what they are going to do. However, the spouse being left is usually in a position of not knowing where to turn.

Initially the support system may only consisted of a best friend or most-trusted family member to talk to and go out to do things with. Unfortunately, this is when people coping with divorce will find out who their true friends are, as some people will make an intentional effort to distance themselves. Still, there will be some people who will make the effort to be supportive, and it is important to know who those people are, and who they are not. There are also formal support groups that have been established specifically to help people cope with divorce. These groups can usually be located through a house of worship or a local mental-health organization.

Learn to be Single, Again

A divorce means no longer being a couple, a realization that may come as scary prospect or a flat out relief. Returning to the single life is typically much easier for someone who sees themselves as multifaceted. However, if someone hasn’t been anything but a spouse for many years, having to suddenly return to being single can be devastating.

Denver-based marriage counselor Patricia Covalt, PhD, tells people to make the effort to stay busy in a constructive way. This time should be used as a period to gain self knowledge and awareness, and not left to become a time of isolation and fear. Exploring new interests and taking up new activities, such as earning a graduate degree in a beloved subject, staring a community project or getting into the best physical shape of your life, can create new-found self-esteem.

Minimizing the Impact on Children

Soon-to-be divorced spouses have the ability to minimize the discomfort their children will experience by simply keeping things as cheerful as possible, at least whenever the kids are around. Houston-based marriage and family therapist Jennipher Cole says parents should make an agreement and an arrangement to avoid criticizing each other either in front of, or to, their children. Under no circumstance should divorced parents ever put their children in the position of having to take sides with one parent over the other.

Christopher Steven is an avid blogger from Tulsa, Oklahoma who is passionate about encouraging healthy family values for all communities while working with the Gorospe & Smith Tulsa Divorce Law Firm in his own community.

Benefits of Volunteering While Out of Work

Article provided by Matt Rhoney

happy-volunteerVolunteer work can be very beneficial for people who are out of work. This might sound strange—why do a job for free when you’re looking for paying work? But it’s true. Volunteering provides many benefits to people who are out of work for a variety of reasons.

And there is a large variety of reasons for people to be out of work. Injuries, lay-offs, retirement, and countless other unique life circumstances can leave a willing worker unable to find a job. If you’re in one of these situations, you might want to consider doing volunteer work.

Volunteering Gets You Out of the House

Being out of work is boring, even depressing. What are going to do all day when you don’t go to work? It’s not like a long vacation. Vacations are fun; you’ve got enough money to afford your leisure plans, and you know you’ve earned your time. Not having a job is not like that at all. You’re probably short on money, and you’ll likely feel depressed about not having a productive place in society.

Volunteering solves some of the problem. You’ll have activities with which to fill your time, and you’ll be offering hard work for a good cause. Review issues which mean something to you personally. Organizations such as Children’s Right Collaborative consider their volunteers “the backbone of their center. Organizations all over are seeking help; you can also help feed the homeless, do community theater, or aid people with developmental disabilities.

Volunteering Helps Your Career

Volunteering might not be paying work, but it can help you find paying work. You might find work or meet people with whom you will one day work. When you volunteer, you’ll develop many things that can aid your career, for instance:

  • Networking. You meet people when you volunteer. Charitable organizations like nonprofits are often short-staffed, and working alongside them might help land you a job. You’ll get a chance to show off your work ethic. You’ll also meet other people in situations similar to yours.
  • Good resume material. Volunteering looks good on your resume. Similar to networking, your volunteer work will give you a chance to demonstrate your skills and ability to work hard for more than just a paycheck. Volunteering makes you good. Employers are happy to find hard-working people who have a sense of ethics.
  • Skills development. Many jobs today require specialized training that can be hard to come by without taking an expensive course. Volunteering can get you good hands-on training for free. You’ll get to practice and find skills that can help you round out that LinkedIn profile.

Volunteering Will Make You Feel Better

In addition to all the above benefits, volunteering will make you feel better. Many people without work report feeling depressed, even ashamed, by their situation. People out of work due to disability or workplace injury, especially, often that that not working makes them feel weak and useless.

When you volunteer, you will feel much better. The good work you do with your choice of organization will no doubt provide good things to your community, raising your self-esteem as well as your esteem in the eyes of others. Volunteers usually report getting great satisfaction out of the experience.

Article provided by Matt Rhoney

 

Monthly Giving

A lot of larger companies offer their employees a way to donate a designated amount every month from their paycheck to their charity of choice. This often is not the case for smaller companies. Monthly donations are so important to non-profits and are something that can provide a service on a regular basis because the funding for that program comes in every month.
Please Donations are rough to ask for, especially if you are one of the smaller non-profits, the big ones, the ones with the commercials and the billboards, don’t have any problem asking but for the smaller ones it’s hard for us to even get a moment of someone’s time to talk about what we do and then we have to convince someone that our small need is not unlike what the big ones are looking for, just on a much smaller scale. We are all the same, trying to do good with the resources we have, to make a difference.Monthly giving is something we hope for always. It gives us a chance to look to the future. Perhaps add programs that will compliment what we do already.We do have a monthly giving program through Paypal. We hope that you will give it a try. $20 a month can be made to stretch to significantly. Check out our link here: Monthly Giving Program there is a little circle you click to make your donation an ongoing thing and can be stopped at anytime through PayPal.

What we would do for your monthly gift, is keep you posted on how we are using your gift to make things better for kids and parents here at the center. If you like you can sign up for our newsletter, Go to bottom of page for newsletter sign up. Thank you for all that you do.

ADVOCATE/VOLUNTEER/DONATE

Meet Ashley

ashleyThis is Ashley. Ashley was recently released from prison. She hasn’t seen her 7-year-old daughter, Kyle, for 3 years. Because mom is recently released  from  prison the judge has ordered she have supervised visits, with her daughter Kyle, at Children’s Rights Collaborative of NW Ohio. Ashley calls and makes an appointment right away to fill out all the paperwork to start visits with her daughter. Unfortunately, there is a waiting list, she is very disappointed.  <Waiting lists happen for a couple of reason either there is no room or most likely because we do not have enough volunteers, to cover all the visits.> We don’t tell Ashley the reason nor do we tell her how long it will be until she is given a visit slot, we never know– either a family leaves us or we gain a volunteer or two, usually the former.

After 6 weeks we finally have an available slot and enough volunteers, so Ashley and her daughter Kyle reunite for the first time in over 3 years. Kyle is nervous she hardly remembered her mom, but mom thought to bring photos of herself and Kyle when Kyle was younger. Before the end of the visit she was sitting in mom’s lap having a book read to her. When the visit ended, there were hugs and “I love you” and “see you next week.”

Ashley has a long road ahead of her, it’s not a quick process, but with patience and being always here for visits she will seeing her daughter for outside visits in the future.

Voice of the Child of Divorce Video

One Day Last Week.

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because it’s been so busy lately. New intakes never end, so we’re always juggling schedules with volunteer availability. We had a fundraiser over the weekend and another one this weekend, a clothing drive check it out here.  We’re doing volunteer training tonight I’m excited about this it will be a totally different experience for me and hopefully for our volunteers.

Last week I did an intake that completely explains why we are always looking for donors. A little back story. We receive a stipend from domestic court to help offset fees for parents but nothing from juvenile court(parents who have never married) so fees are higher and many times these cases are lower-income parents. We have to charge fees, mostly due to the insurance we have to have to run, rent and other misc. fees. On one occasion last week I had to do an intake, usually the lovely Carol does our intakes she is so very good at it, but some parents can’t make it during the day to come in and meet with us. So dad sat down in front of me telling me how much he missed his son who was two years old. He hadn’t seen his son in a month, for a two-year old and parent it’s a huge amount of time. We got through the intake pretty well until I had to go over the fees, my least favorite part. Well dad let me go over it, he took it in and then started weeping. He was working hard, allegedly paying child support and just didn’t know how he was going to come up with funds to see his son. It’s the worst thing to see and hear, I wish I could just say “of course, for you, I’ll waive the fees”. I can’t say that though or we couldn’t do what we do. That’s where donations and fundraising comes in. I’m sure potential donors wonder why we need donations and this is exactly why. We would like to offset those fees too for the unmarried parents who need to visit their child just as much as the child needs to see this parent. Ideally I would love to not have to charge parents at all. This is what I work toward.

The Week in Review

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

Things are really hopping this week. Many intakes, our wonderful Carol does these, that is the thing that can sometimes be hard to fathom. A lot of nonprofits are working for a cause that someday they will not be needed for. We are a cause that will never end. Very much like The United Way, or any other cause that is more social. We can hope.

This week I met the cutest, sweetest little boy, he was around 2, very active, and has these big old glasses on his little face and his smile would melt your heart. He seemed like any other two-year old except he was nonverbal and has Downs Syndrome. I just wanted to play with him all afternoon.

I sat in on a visit this week with another little guy he was just in hysterics. As soon as mom tried to leave he got so worked up, the crying broke my heart. When they are small like that you feel so bad that the one parent has to leave before the other arrives..but there is a reason for that. I tried consoling this child with everything I could think of but nothing worked, until daddy walked in. They hadn’t seen each other for a while, the little guys tears dried up and hugs were many, dads tears took awhile to stop. When dad left the little guys tears began again until mom arrived. I don’t think she believed me when I said he stopped crying the minute dad came. That’s how it is sometimes.

Looking forward to today. It’s always very busy on Sunday but it’s so nice to see so many families together enjoying each others company. Have a wonderful day!

Graduation

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

This week we got a call, a dad no longer has to use our services to see his daughter. He can take her to his home, out for ice cream and all the things dads can do. It’s times like these where we are so excited for them but a little sad. We do get to know these families, especially the kids. This child was just around 2 yrs old and scared when she came to us. I chose to do this first visit to see what I could do. The child cried and called out for her grandma and there was no soothing her. Dad came and was a little too boisterous and scared the child more. That first visit, she cried almost all the time and backed herself in the corner still very scared. Between the two of us, we got her out and she interacted a little, and then dad had to leave. The second week better, still scared but definitely better. Third week she called out to daddy when he entered the room and ran to him to be picked up. Last time, she cried when he left.

Stories like this happen all the time, but they are not always like this don’t get me wrong. But it is stories like this that make us know we are doing something necessary and important. We’re proud to do it! Want a tour to maybe think about volunteering, call us.

What Do Our Volunteers Do?

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

I came to Children’s Rights Council as a volunteer not really knowing what CRC did exactly. I was introduced to them via my volunteering as a CASA. CRC’s Executive Director, Margaret Wuwert, was there to testify about how a dad on one of my cases was doing with visitation at CRC. Margaret was a formidable woman that day, and I knew pretty quick I wanted to learn more. At first I just offered to volunteer my website design services and that worked for a while, then I was asked by Margaret to be on the board. I’d never been on a board before but I knew I wanted to know even more. My first board meeting was interesting but I knew I couldn’t serve if I didn’t know exactly what goes on. Next thing I knew I was signing up to volunteer. Volunteering for kids was my favorite thing of all, so it just seemed natural.

That first night I volunteered seemed like controlled chaos, all those kids coming in. Parent’s lining up to sign in their children, the goodbyes, sometimes the tears from parents and kids on the faces of the new visitors. It has to be a scary thing to leave your child somewhere, knowing they are going to meet with the other parent, knowing for whatever reason the line of communication has broken down and that’s why they are there. The custodial parents leave and it’s just the kids and the volunteers. The volunteers know right away who their family is and their time starts as soon as the family arrives. Volunteers are given a clipboard with the form needed to write their notes.

Soon the non-custodial parent arrives. The first thing they all do is look around for their child(ren), sometimes there are hugs and kisses right away, sometimes there is shyness and sometimes there are tears from parents and children. Parents sign in and off they go with their child(ren) and the volunteer to an assigned room. Usually the first couple minutes are a little awkward but family time starts right up. The volunteer finds a chair and sits off to the side of where the family sits. CRC encourages parents to bring a meal, it’s a good way to sit, relax and talk about things over a meal. Volunteers keep track of food eaten; if there is a problem later with illness or reaction. The family goes about their visit, they talk, they eat, they play games, some kids sit and never speak, some immediately confront their parents. It’s almost always different in some way. Volunteers sit back and write. What the family is doing, what if anything inappropriate or important is said. No emotion in those notes, volunteers are neutral. We can’t say what we think only what we see or hear and see. And so it goes, for 1 hour, 2 hours or 3. Sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the families go down to the gym and play a little basketball, or visit the playground or the game room.

When the visits finished the volunteer is not. Children go back to the room they started out in, they say their goodbyes, very much like the beginning there are hugs and kisses, tears or no response at all. Volunteers continue to watch and write if necessary. Sometimes the most important thing is what is said by the kids after the visit and before the other parent arrives. When the child leaves, the notes are turned in and the volunteers time is finished. This is the moment of truth for me as the Executive Director. Did the visit go ok, is the volunteer ok, will the volunteer come back.

As you can see volunteers for us are the most important thing we have and always need. Want to give it a try? Go to our Volunteer page and fill out the form, try it and see if you feel you can do this. It’s so important what you would be doing. I hope I get to meet you soon.

~Erin

This Is Why We Do It

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

Last night was an amazing night. We had two special visitations last night, both brand new, both moms. One mom hadn’t see her child in over two years, we had a shy little boy and a mom. When mom walked in the door she looked around and spied her son then broke down in tears. Her son was shy at first but when they came back to check out that gap wasn’t there anymore. The second visit was a young lady waiting for her mom. Mom walked in the door and it was like a scene from a movie, running to each other, embracing and lots of tears. It’s really hard to not be emotional when you see things like that.

These aren’t the situations we see every night but it’s the kind of thing that makes all the hard stuff seem insignificant. Interested in becoming a volunteer? All you need to do is email or call me. We’ll set up an appointment day or night, and I’ll tell you all about us and give you a tour. crcofnwohio@buckeye-express.com 419-473-8955.

It’s official today!

Erin O'Bryan Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio
419-473-8955

Today I am officially the new Executive Director of Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio. I’ve actually been doing this since February of 2015 but our Director retired yesterday so now I am official. I am so honored to be in this place at this time, it feels like my whole life has been leading here.

I love children and have worked as a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate for children for several years now, and before I became director here I was a volunteer at CRC. I have two children, 15 and 21 and I live in Sylvania Twp. My kids go to Sylvania Southview and Bowling Green State University.

If you don’t know CRC you should, we do something that is pretty unique and important for NW Ohio. Maybe you could come in for a tour and we can get you to assist us as a volunteer or maybe even become a donor, we’d love to have you in the CRC family. We all have to work together to keep what we do going.

Well enough about me, I just wanted to introduce myself. Thank you for visiting our site. Please feel free to contact us anytime, 419-473-8955 or crcofnwohio@bex.net.

Aren’t you guys lawyers?

Welcome to the blog. I’m not a writer by any means but it’s nice to share things that happen with us and this is the best way. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to contact us anytime. So here’s what we hear a lot, “aren’t you all lawyers?” “I need help and I need you to take my case”. No one seems to know exactly what we do.

We get referrals from the domestic court and the juvenile court of Lucas County and from other counties in NW Ohio. Referrals are in regards to non-custodial parents who want visits with their children but for whatever reason supervised (someone in the room) or monitored (in our location but no one in the room but checked on regularly). Sometimes this is a short period of time for visitations before another court hearing but often times it can go on for a long time with no end date in place. Sometimes we get calls just from parents who can’t make an exchange between parents without conflict, we facilitate exchanges also.

Many don’t realize how easily they or someone they know could end up at our center visiting their children. It’s moms and dads from all walks of life, there is no average person who uses us. Almost everyone has been or knows someone who is in the middle of a divorce with children, or a custody issue from a past relationship, and all it takes is one accusation, arrest, or addiction and you could be visiting us. It happens every day, accusations can be true and are under investigation or a parent makes a claim that causes action to be taken. Addictions are a common reason we need to supervise visitations, either ongoing problems or past addictions. Our parents sometimes come to us just out of jail, wanting to reconnect with their children, some have never met their children until they come to us. It’s not as far removed as you may think from all our lives.

There are wonderful stories at our facility and sad ones too. We’d love to have you consider volunteering with us to help supervise visitations or if you can’t donate time we are always looking for funding. Questions? Need more information? Give us a call or an email. 419-473-8955 or crcofnwohio@bex.net

Erin O'Bryan Interim Executive Director Children's Rights Council of NW Ohio 419-473-8955

Erin O’Bryan
Interim Executive Director
Children’s Rights Council of NW Ohio – Visitation Center
419-473-8955

 

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