Heartbroken Holidays: Help for a Child Divided

Dreamstime_3120340 Diana Skaggs at the Divorce Law Journal (Louisville KY) posted a very timely article today on holidays and children of divorced or divorcing families:

The first holidays after a divorce or separation can be a heartbreaking nightmare as estranged parents negotiate access to their children. There are ten things parents can do to help their children enjoy the holidays and to serve their best interests in the future.

“Divorce is never an easy experience,” said Gaetano “Guy” Ferro, immediate past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). “Children can make it more difficult for the parties to reach reasonable agreements. Disagreements about financial issues may cause the parents to act emotionally or irrationally when it comes to the children. The primary goal of both parents and their attorneys should be to avoid conduct which would be detrimental to the children’s best interest.”

• Give your children permission to love the other parent. Help your child make a card for Dad or buy a gift for Mom. Encourage them to call the other parent.
• Set realistic expectations. To divide or share a holiday, each parent will have only half as much time with the child. While children may enjoy multiple celebrations, most do not care that the festivities are actually on “the” day. Holidays can be alternated by year and if Mom does not have Thanksgiving with the child this year, bake a turkey the preceding weekend.
• Coordinate gift giving. If a child has a wish list, split it with the other parent. Resist the temptation to over-indulge the child with gifts. Do not give the child a gift you know the other parent is planning to give. If the other parent will not cooperate, do not complain to the child.
• Do not use your children as messengers. The decision of where to go and when should be decided by the parents. Permitting the child to choose time with one parent is a burden and vests the child with inappropriate power.
• Do what you say you are going to do. Pick up and drop off the children on time. Do not request last minute changes.

Other tips for divorcing parents include never letting a child hear you disparage the other parent. Resist the temptation to permit your child to act as your caretaker. Do not uproot your children if at all possible. Reassure your children that the divorce or separation is not their fault and encourage and permit your child to see and love grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on the other parent’s side of the family.

Over the coming holidays, please let your children be children. They shouldn’t have to worry about adult problems. For more helpful tips you can access the “Children’s Bill of Rights” and “Stepping Back From Anger” on the AAML website, www.aaml.org.

Many parents contemplate divorce as holidays and New Year approach. Holiday filings can increase the trauma; your children will always associate their parents’ divorce with the holidays. Please resist the urge. Divorce lasts a long time. There’s rarely a reason to rush. At a time of year that resonates family and joy, please put your children’s well-being ahead of your own.

SOURCE FOR POST: Divorce Law Journal

It’s Game On For Family Lawyers

Zipland When Jasmin Watson talks about her divorce, she sounds tired and a little frustrated. Mostly, though, she’s concerned about how her children—ages 9, 11 and 12—are holding up. They’re doing better, she says, thanks in part to a package that arrived in the mail from her attorney.

Inside was a video game called Earthquake in Zip­land, a research-based video game designed to help school-age children cope with divorce. Family lawyer Lee Rosen, whose firm is handling Watson’s divorce, discovered the game’s Web site last fall while surfing the Internet for resources to help clients of his Raleigh, N.C.-based firm. After playing the game with his own kids, he ordered three dozen or so to give out to clients.

“We used to hand out books, but if you hand a kid a book, they know what you’re up to,” says Rosen, whose three offices handle about 700 divorces a year. “With a video game, it’s something to play with and it engages kids, especially boys.”

And what he’s hearing back from his clients is that the game is working. “There’s just not anything like it that facilitates conversations,” Rosen says. Watson says she’s noticed a change since her kids started playing the game, especially with her youngest. “She asks questions now. I don’t know if that’s just because of the game, but they all definitely got into it—they thought it was challenging, and my kids love a challenge.”

In the game, a superhero named Moose must repair his country after an earthquake has caused upheaval and chaos. As kids play through, they must perform certain tasks, including writing in an online journal, to keep moving to higher levels. Using the earthquake as a metaphor for their life, children learn that “even a superhero can’t put everything together exactly the way it was before,” says Hank Shrier, who directs marketing for the game’s makers, Jerusalem-based Zipland Inter­active. (Click here to see clips of the game.)

The Rosen Law Firm was one of the first firms to order the game, says Zipland president and family therapist Chaya Harash. She hopes more will follow, especially based on the warm reception she received from both lawyers and judges when she presented the game at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts conference in Washington, D.C., this past summer.

But Rosen says the game wasn’t an instant hit with the 11 other lawyers in his firm. “We basically handed it out to them and said, ‘You can give these to people if you’d like to,’ but largely they did nothing with them.” When Rosen demonstrated the game at a staff meeting, though, it clicked.

Rosen says the game doesn’t just help clients; it creates good will for the firm, too. “Clients are used to lawyers taking their money, but they’re not used to getting something, and when you give them a gift that also benefits their children, that’s something exponentially more powerful.”

That’s certainly reflected in Watson’s reaction when she received the game. “I was like, ‘Me? You thought of me?’ ” she recalls. “It made me feel like I wasn’t just another person—[that my lawyer] thought of me out of all those clients. It made me feel a little more important.”

SOURCE: ABA Journal Weekly

Related Posts:

What is Earthquake in Zipland?

Ten Ways To Help Children Through Divorce

Spare Your Kids To 7 Most Distressful Divorce Parenting Situations

Helping Your Kids Navigate a Divorce

Divorce with Children – From One House to Two

Ten Ways To Help Children Through Divorce

By Ed Sherman

Going through a divorce is no fun for anyone, but children are especially vulnerable. Divorce specialist attorney Ed Sherman reveals in his book Divorce Solutions: How to Make Any Divorce Better, the following 10 things you can do to make a big difference in how well your children survive.

1.  Tell children the truth in simple terms with simple explanations. Tell them where their other parent has gone.

2.  Reassure them that they will continue to be taken care of and that they will be safe and secure.

3.  Your children will see that parents can stop loving each other. Reassure them that a parent’s love for a child is a special kind that never stops.

4.  Spend time with each child individually. Whether you have custody or visitation, the most important thing to the child is your individual relationship with him or her. Build the best relationship you can. The future is built of many tiny moments.

5.  Children feel responsible for causing the divorce. Reassure them that they are not to blame. They may also feel that it is their responsibility to bring their parents back together. Let them know your decision is final and will have to be accepted.


What About Me?

Dreamstime_2231982 “What About Me?” (W.A.M.) is a program designed for children of divorcing parents. This VOLUNTARY class addresses various issues facing children during this difficult time. For ages 5-12, this course helps teach children how to cope with the changes and how to communicate better with their parents. The class is broken down into two age groups (5-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds) so that discussion may be age appropriate. The same facilitators as the “Seminar for Divorcing Parents” teach this course and many parents who have taken the parent seminar feel that W.A.M. is a good companion class for their children.

  • W.A.M. is a voluntary, one-time class which is typically offered the fourth Monday of every other month from 6:15pm – 8:15pm.
  • In order to secure a place, all children must be pre-registered (permission form and payment)
  • If Court action is still pending, permission is required from BOTH parents. If Court action is finalized, only the primary custodial parent’s permission is necessary for enrollment.
  • During the seminar, one parent must remain on premises.
  • The class costs $10 per pre-registered participant and an additional child from the same family is an additional $5.

Download Application
Print and fax (with credit card) this application to 770-528-8142 or mail it with payment:
Superior Court ADR Office (Attn: W.A.M.)
30 Waddell St.
Marietta, GA 30090-9642

For class schedule or if you have any questions please call 770-528-1812.

SOURCE: Cobb County Superior Court

What is Earthquake in Zipland?

I have come across a software program designed for 7- to 13-year-old children of separated or divorced parents. Earthquake in Zipland intends to help kids cope indirectly with the emotional issues that arise from their parents’ split. Although I have not demo’ed it, it looked interesting and thought I would pass it on.


From the company’s website:

"Earthquake in Zipland" is the first computer game designed to help children of separated or divorced parents cope with their new reality. With the help of its main character, Moose, it addresses situations surrounding children and divorce in a way no other game has ever dealt with before, with a unique approach that is both entertaining and effective.

The game takes the child on an adventure full of colorful characters and challenging tasks, while dealing with a number of important issues surrounding divorce and separation. Along the quest, the child helps Moose deal with different fantasy-like scenarios which ultimately deal indirectly with issues parallel to those of his own, issues such as anger, guilt, loyalty conflicts, the fantasy to reunite the divorced parents and other emotional effects of divorce on children.

"Earthquake in Zipland" not only offers the child a chance to vicariously deal with separation and divorce through the main character’s eyes, but also opens the way to direct dialogue, making it a valuable tool for both parents and therapists.

What is Earthquake in Zipland?

Important issues surrounding children and divorce A psychological edutainment product which deals with important issues surrounding children and divorce and is presented as an adventure game full of challenges and fun.

Help children of divorce copeA tool designed to help children of divorce cope with their new reality.

Deals with the effects of divorce on childrenA game that incorporates techniques and therapeutic insights from the fields of clinical psychology, family therapy, child therapy and divorce/separation therapy.

A high quality and exciting game created by a talented team of scriptwriters, graphic designers and musical composers.

A tool for kids and divorceA challenging game for children of divorce, ages 7-13.

   The Story and the Game      

The game begins in Zipland, a small paradise island comprised of two parts held together by a zipper, which represents the marriage of the parents (the King and Queen). Suddenly an earthquake rips the island into two, leaving the king and the queen on separate islands.

“Moose”, the “hero”, sets out on a quest to build a new zipper and re-combine the islands so that life can go on as before (which of course he can’t).

The game then takes the players on a “Quest” through 3D scenery filled with dozens of colorful characters, while dealing indirectly with the long term effects of divorce on children.