Atlanta Divorce Law Group - August 2019

What’s the Best Way to Tell Your Kids About Your Divorce? THE IMPOSSIBLE BALANCING ACT OF BEING A PARENT

August 2019

Perhaps the most difficult conversation a parent can have with their child is one pertaining to an upcoming divorce. If your kids are old enough to understand the situation, then they’ll likely remember this conversation for the rest of their lives. While that definitely adds pressure on the parents, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t properly inform their kids of the big changes that lie ahead; it just means they should really think about how they want the conversation to unfold. Many parents choose this month to talk to their kids about a separation or divorce for two reasons: Either they didn’t want to curb the fun during summer break, or they were forced to break the news in order to plan a school schedule. If you’re stuck trying to figure out how to tell your kids about the dissolution of your marriage, here’s some advice to keep in mind. Lots of big changes are going to occur, and, while it’s certainly emotionally stressful, it’s up to you to give your kids enough time and information to navigate their new lives. By trying to protect them from knowing the truth, you are diminishing their ability to handle these changes with resilience. Plus, it’s a known fact that kids sense when something is wrong with their parents. By trying to protect them, you might be causing more harm than you know. There are different schools of thought regarding what details you should share when having this conversation with your kids, but in my fellow attorneys’ and my experience, what your kids need to know depends on who they are as individuals. Are they old enough to understand the details? For example, many single parents have to rejoin the workforce following a divorce. Is your child old enough to understand that Mom or Dad needs to go

back to work and cut back on spending to ensure a solid financial situation? Or do they just need to know that Mom or Dad decided to get a job? You should never create a rose- colored situation or blatantly lie, but, if your child is too young to understand specific details or if those details will alienate them from another parent (like lying, cheating, etc.), then there isn’t a whole lot they can do with the knowledge. When you’re deciding what information your child needs to know and can comprehend, make sure you are doing three important things: First, let them know that both their parents are there for them to talk to and they have other helpful and supportive parties they can turn to as well. Second, try your best to talk about your former spouse in a calm and amicable manner. Finally, don’t use your kids as a sounding board for your vent sessions. Research shows that while divorce involves a lot of understanding from the kids involved, it’s not what actually harms them; it’s the conflict created from the divorce that brings them pain. When the communication is clear and honest, rather than full of tension, your kids will adapt. But it’s up to you to lay the foundation. As caregivers, we are here to offer children love, support, and self-esteem, but, when many parents are in the middle of a divorce, they turn to their kids for the same kind of fulfillment. Feeling like they need to build up your confidence and your emotional state is too much responsibility for a child, especially when they are enduring big changes in their own lives. Plus, children adapt better if they know Mom and Dad are okay. To help with this process, you should aim to keep a strong support system for yourself filled with trustworthy family members, friends, and a therapist if you see one. The more you can talk to the people in your circle, the less you have to worry about burdening your child or using him/her as a sounding board for your frustration, stress, and confusion. All of us here at ADLG understand that when it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, there is no simple and foolproof method. But there are ways you can help it go smoothly. Let us know how else we can help.

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–Sara Khaki

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You or Your Kids? WHO’S LESS READY FOR ‘BACK-TO-SCHOOL?’

MAKE A SCHEDULE (AND STICK TO IT) If you are part of a joint custody agreement, then making a schedule for which parent will pick up your kid(s) from school on which day of the week is of the utmost importance. Between after-school activities and frequently alternating houses and beds, establishing a routine prior to the first day of school can help reduce both you and your child’s stress. DISPLAY A UNITED FRONT If your relationship permits it, aim to meet your kid’s teacher alongside your spouse. It demonstrates to the teacher both parents’ involvement and will establish a pattern of open communication. Additionally, if your child is participating in extracurricular activities in the evenings and on the weekends, don’t feel like you have to alternate attendance with your spouse. That’s not to say that you have to sit next to each other, of course. REMEMBER WHO YOU’RE DOING IT FOR There might be days when all the planning, scheduling, and even seeing your former spouse might feel overwhelming. During those trying times, remind yourself who are you doing all this for: your kids. If they don’t notice all the work you’re putting in now, trust us: They will someday soon!

Believe it or not, the first day of school is just around the corner, and while your kids may have been attending classes for quite some time now, new family dynamics can result in big struggles if not planned for properly. Whether you and your former spouse have been divorced for two months or two years, your kids continue to grow, and they’ll require new schedules that may not fit with current visiting arrangements. As parents, it’s up to us to try to keep up! To help, the team at ADLG has compiled a few tips to keep in mind in order to help your kids’ school year start off as smoothly as possible. SPLIT COST OF SCHOOL SUPPLIES Once you know what supplies are required for your student’s grade, you have a few options. You and your spouse can split the list in half and take your child on separate shopping trips, or you can plan on a single trip and have one parent reimburse the other. Either way, acknowledging this aspect of the school readiness process is better than letting it sneak up on you and cause hurt feelings.

4 Things to Keep in Mind on Your Next Family Camping Trip GONE CAMPING

While summer is winding down, families are looking to go on a few end-of-season adventures, camping trips included. Before you head out into the wilderness with your family, it’s important to be prepared. In fact, “be prepared” is the best piece of advice when it comes to braving the great outdoors. But what does being prepared entail? Here are four key tips. HAVE A FIRST-AID KIT NEARBY. A good rule of thumb is to keep one in your car at all times. You never know when you’ll need it. Kids may get a few bumps and scrapes while out hiking, or you might encounter poisonous plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak. Having quick access to cold water, soap, antiseptics (hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol), and calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can keep infections at bay. TEACH FIRE SAFETY. When you build a fire, especially with kids, teach them about fire safety. This includes building the fire itself. Pick a spot away from brush and overhanging branches and create a

pit surrounded by rocks. Before lighting a fire, have a bucket of water and a shovel nearby so you can quickly extinguish it when ready. Finally, remember to only build a fire as big as you need. A larger fire can be difficult to manage and keep under control. KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY. Weather can change at a moment’s notice, and sometimes, it doesn’t give notice at all. Keep a close eye on the sky and monitor the weather on a radio. If a storm appears, seek shelter immediately and stay out of low-lying areas. When you’re in mountainous or hilly terrain, a little rain is all it takes for flash floods to occur. If you’re in a ravine when it starts raining, get out immediately. ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER. It’s a good idea to hike with a buddy and keep a whistle around your neck or in your pack. You never know what you might encounter or when you’ll need help. Hiking with kids is also a great time to teach them to recognize landmarks and be aware of their surroundings. If you have a digital camera or smartphone, show kids how to create a trail of digital breadcrumbs or pictures to help them find their way back to camp.

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THE ART OF STARGAZING Helping Humans Slow Down and Look Up

Modern humans are stuck in a routine of expected and constant industriousness. But with all this rushing, people often drag themselves home at night with no energy left to enjoy the most splendid show nature has to offer: the wondrous night sky. Most people go through life looking straight ahead, but if they would stop and peer skyward, they’d bear witness to a massive, unexplored frontier made up of the moon in all its phases, burning stars sailing through the sky, constellations with epic origin stories, and meteor showers bright enough to warrant sunglasses. If you’re looking for a hobby to help you slow down and appreciate the world around you, stargazing is a great option. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. THE HIGHER, THE BETTER If you’re a city dweller, meander a little way out of town or try to find a tall building to keep the light pollution to a minimum. 2. EXTRA SET OF EYES While novice stargazers often want to immediately throw their money at a new telescope, astronomy experts recommend starting with binoculars instead. You’ll need to identify

several anchor planets or constellations to help you navigate the sky before using a telescope.

3. UTILIZE ASSETS Put your phone to good use by downloading apps like Stellarium, Starwalk, and Google Sky Map. Each of these apps offers a unique benefit for aspiring stargazers. For example, Starwalk lets you point your phone at the sky to see stars, constellations, and planets in real time based on your location. 4. MARK YOUR CALENDAR In 1972, beloved singer-songwriter John Denver wrote about a meteor shower he witnessed during a camping trip in Colorado. He describes the scene by singing, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.” The “fire” he recounted was actually the Perseids meteor shower, the most recognized shower on Earth. This astrological wonder takes place every year from July 17 to Aug. 24. During this time, viewers should be able to see shooting stars associated with the Perseids, but the shower reaches its maximum rate of activity on Aug. 12–13 this year. Grab some friends and family, and head outdoors to put your newfound stargazing knowledge to work.

CONCIERGE PARTNERS’ CORNER: Featuring Hal Schlenger, Innovator of Health Care!

WHAT OUR Clients Are Saying!

At ADLG, we’ve compiled a list of community partners whom we trust to provide you with great services at fair prices, all in hopes of helping you get back on your feet a little easier. This month, we want to introduce you to Hal Schlenger and HIPnation. Because he saw that our country’s health care system was broken, and that people are charged more for health care and

“My divorce felt unreal, as I imagine it does for most people, and I could not believe it was actually going to happen. It was something I was not looking forward to. As the breadwinner of the household, I was concerned about my financial liability. But, at the same time, I didn’t know what would be considered ‘doing the right thing’ for someone I shared a life with for so long. “I am so grateful for the care and knowledge this legal team provided me. Sara and her team kept me informed and educated the whole way, and they were always looking out for my best interest. They made sure I knew at every step what my rights and strategy options were. I felt safe throughout the process. Needless to say, I highly recommend this law firm!” – Asfia Y.

health insurance than a mortgage on a house, he created HIPnation. Those at HIPnation simplify the insurance evaluation and selection process to match the benefits to what you need, including access to all doctors and facilities, deductibles starting at $0, and a concierge-level primary care physician available 24/7 by phone/text/video, plus regular office hours with $0 copay! Those who’ve gone through recent divorces often find themselves stuck trying to find an affordable insurance plan. With HIPnation, the whole process is a whole lot easier! To get more information about HIPnation, look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, or send an email to HSchlenger@HIPnation.com!

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Inside This Issue

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What’s the Best Way to Tell Your Kids About Your Divorce?

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Tips to Help With Co-Parenting During This School Year

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Stay Safe While Camping

The Art of Stargazing

Here’s What Our Clients Are Saying!

ADLG’s ‘Big Little Lies’ Series: Season 1, Episode 4 Recap

ADLG’s ‘Big Little Lies’ Series: Season 1, Episode 4 Recap Family Law Theme: Therapy

To help all our diligent “Big Little Lies” fans navigate their way through the second season airing every Sunday night, the team at Atlanta Divorce Law Group launched a new blog series to extrapolate numerous family themes addressed in the first season. Below is a condensed recap of the fourth blog and episode “Push Comes to Shove.” The fourth episode of “Big Little Lies” presents the audience with several themes related to family law, but the one we want to focus on is Emotional Abuse and Gaslighting . As we discussed in our recap of Episode 2, emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence. It is a pattern of behavior in which one partner/spouse tries to control

the other partner/spouse. This can manifest in the form of insults, intimidation, pressuring the partner to do something they don’t want to do, causing the other partner to be fearful of doing/ saying the wrong things, and/or isolating the other partner from their friends and family. This brings us to gaslighting, which is a form of emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. A person who is “gaslighting” their partner is using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and/or lying in order to destabilize the other partner and retain control over the relationship. Gaslighting often causes the victim to lose their own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.

Whether intentionally or not, Perry is gaslighting Celeste. There are numerous examples in this episode. Perry refers to his wife in a spectrum of different and confusing ways; sometimes he calls her pet names like Sparkles or My Baby; sometimes he refers to her as a woman who lies and prioritizes her own wants over the happiness of her family. Perry exhibits classic examples of gaslighting by exaggerating the truth, using repetition, wearing out Celeste (mentally and physically), throwing in positive reinforcement to confuse her, and escalating (physically) when challenged. In addition to emotional abuse and gaslighting, the other family law issues in this fourth episode include co-parenting (Madeline), the stigma of being a mom versus wanting more than motherhood (Celeste, Madeline, Renata), infidelity (Madeline), and potential substance abuse.

To read about the family law themes present in the second episode, or to see some foreshadowing present in “Push Comes to Shove,” be sure to go to AtlantaDivorceLawGroup.com/Blog.

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