Women's Divorce Blog

Life After Divorce?

The hurt and disruption caused by a divorce can make you question whether there can be life after divorce. How can I pick up the pieces and how good will the quality of life be after a divorce?

Looking after yourself

After a divorce, we as parents often dedicate ourselves to our children. While this is right and proper, we often neglect ourselves. This can result in parenting burnout which is not good for you or your kids.

Parenting burnout

Parenting after a divorce is very stressful. There are many changes and often less resources available. If parents do not take time for themselves, the chronic stress will eventually cause them to perform poorly. Often parents become irritable, sleep badly, become depressed and lack energy.

Meeting our needs

Each of us have needs. We usually meet our basic needs of food and sleep but we often miss giving ourselves the downtime that allows us to re-energize. This time is essential to our physical and mental well-being. As adults we also need the company of other adults and to pursue adult activities.

Making time for yourself 

Make time for yourself each day. You do not have to be with your kid all of the time. It is healthy to teach your children to have some alone time both for them and for you. Find a spot where you will not be bothered.

Make a phone call to a friend or read a book or whatever relaxes you. Set a fixed amount of time and put it in your daily schedule. Make a calendar showing all your and your children's activities and post it somewhere the whole family can see. Make it clear you are not to be disturbed for that time.

Effective Child Discipline

The trend seems to be towards not hitting children as a punishment. No parent wants to be left without any effective child discipline tools. This article deals with age appropriate discipline methods that can work for you and your child.

Tailor your discipline efforts to your child 

What works for your child, depends on both you and your child's relationship and personality. By gathering a set of discipline tools that you can pick from allows you to pick the most appropriate and effective method for each situation.

  • Collect ideas
  • Adapt them to your specific situation
  • Try them out

Age appropriate discipline  


Very young children will not understand or learn from time outs. 

  • Distract the child from their unwelcome behavior
  • Redirect them to a more acceptable behavior

Trial and error will tell you what works and doesn't work. When traveling, going out to a public place or to a friends or relatives house, bring items to help distract and redirect unwelcome behavior.

Make sure your child is not hungry or tired as this can lead to your child getting frustrated more easily and showing bad behavior. Over-stimulation can also lead to excitable and unwanted behavior.

Choosing daycare

Picking a quality daycare

Many parents have to make decisions about daycare during or after their divorce. It is an emotional time and making a good choice in daycare for your child can be tough among all the other changes going on. Here are some ideas to help you through this process

Stay at home parents

If you were a stay-at-home parent before the divorce, this can be a difficult change. You may not have wanted daycare for your child but are forced into it by circumstances. If you have no other viable choices, then accept that you need daycare and put your energy into finding the best one to suit your child and your situation.

Where to get information

Recommendations from other parents

Talk to other parents and find out about the daycare facilities they use. Find out what they like and dislike about that facility. No childcare is completely perfect for every-one's needs so expect to hear a dislike or two. Decide if those issues raised are very important to you.


Youth Violence

Violence is one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity among youth. With slightly more than 1 in 3 high school students reported to be involved in a physical fight, this is a major social issue. For the full statistics, see the reference at the end of this story.

Can we as parents influence our kids with respect to use of violence?

The good news is that if our kids see us as disapproving of  the use of violence to solve interpersonal problems then they were more likely  not to engage in violent behavior.

Interestingly, almost 40% of the parents indicated that they would tell their child it is okay to hit if another person pushes him or her. Perhaps for some parents, advising their child to fight back when provoked is the best way they think their child will be safe.

Using corporal punishment as a disciplining method by parents increased the risk of youth violence as reported in several studies. Seeing parents using corporal punishment may suggest to young people that the use of physical force in dealing with a problem is normal.

Parents should clearly communicate to their children how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and to model these skills themselves by avoiding the use of physical punishment.

Long Distance Parenting

When you are separated from your kids, it can be very painful and difficult. Here are some ideas to help handle this situation.

  • Mark down holidays and birthdays on a calendar
  • Make contact by sending a card, a present or making a phone call on those days
  • Put your address and phone number on your letters so your kids can contact you
  • Let your ex know when you expect to be in town well in advance and ask to make contact or remind them in advance if its in the divorce agreement
  • If your kid has time with you during holidays, make them a priority for that time. That does not mean constantly entertaining them but simply being available to them.
  • Understand that your kid may feel upset, angry, rejected and need time to connect with you.
  • Don't push them but give them time to open up

In these days of Internet and cell phones, you should be able to keep in touch regularly. You may find it frustrating and upsetting at times but it is worth it.

If you now have other kids, either your own or step children, you need to keep your child by first marriage in touch with what's going on in your life and you in theirs. Your kid may feel like they are intruding or even resentful of your new family and you need to find ways to make them feel welcome without disrupting your new family life.

Traveling with kids

Travel tips for single parents

For single parents, traveling with kids can be a difficult task. You have no backup to take care of the kids while you drive or fly or to give you a break while on the holiday. There are things you can do to anticipate and ease some of these problems.

Car Travel

  • Videos. Have a DVD/video player in your car, great. If you don't, there are relatively cheap portable DVD players that you can buy.
  • Books: if you have a child who loves books, bring plenty. Encourage your kids to read and they will have something to do even when it rains. You can also buy audio books
  • Puzzles and games
  • Check regularly to see who wants to go to the bathroom. Check especially before long stretches where there are no facilities. Limit drinks especially with caffeine to avoid frequent stops.
  • When you do stop, allow the children to run around in an appropriate place for 5 or 10 minutes to burn off some energy.

Getting homework done

Homework is the thing kids love to hate. It keeps them from their friends, computer and other fun activities.


Most kids understand that homework is a part of their life. Though they may protest it, they know it has to be done. Be consistent. Try to have a set time and place for homework with no distractions. Do check their homework. Ask for the assignment book and check that they have completed each piece of homework.

Helping them with homework

Its great if you can get involved with their homework. Do not do any part of their homework for them!  I cannot emphasize that enough. Check for spelling errors and syntax. Check their math. Give them a pop quiz.

School and Divorce

During and after divorce, being in contact with and involved in your kids school is even more important.


  • A change in school performance can indicate that your child is having problems dealing with their emotions
  • To keep connected to this important part of your child's life
  • To allow you to positively influence your child

Divorce can be very unsettling and they may not talk about it but it can be expressed in non verbal ways such as worse performance in school or mood changes. Keep in contact with your kids teacher and let them know what's going on so they can watch for signs. Non-custodial parents in particular may find it difficult to go by the school seeing people connected to their old married life. Do not give in to those feelings of wanting to minimize your time around the school. Your child needs you and it is worth it.

The Challenge

In my experience, schools are not divorce friendly. They do not make much effort to involve or welcome the non-custodial parent. Getting school notices seems to be a recurrent problem. Often they will not have counted on 2 notices going to one child and you can't rely on your child to remember every notice and keep you informed.

How can you deal with this?

  • An envelope in the child's school bag where notices are kept can help. If the child is going to both homes regularly then both parents get to see the notices or can make copies. Agree to a regular time to clear out notices from the envelope.
  • Keeping the envelope in the school office so the secretary will put a copy of the notices in there for you can work as well. It requires a cooperative secretary and you need to drop by the school regularly to pick up the notices. This has the positive benefit of being seen around the school, making regular contact and allowing you to see a teacher while you are picking up the notices. Of course schools close before work hours are over and so you would need a flexible work situation to do this.
  • Having the school mail the notices to your address can sometimes work also but you may need to go to the principal to explain the situation before you can get agreement to this.
  • More recently some schools are scanning the notices and putting them on the school website. This is the best solution for those with computers. You can check the notices anytime without any hassle. Don't use this as an excuse though not to make contact with the school.

Stay connected to the school

Join the PTO or booster clubs

This is a great way to make contact with other parents, support your kids school and have some influence on what happens there. There is often a Board of Ed member on these committees so you get to meet with someone influential in your child's education. For a non-custodial parent, this again connects you to what's happening in your child's life.

Reading to your child

Is reading to your child when they are young worthwhile? Does it help your child achieve greater academic success later in life?

Why read?

Taking time to read to your kid, 10-15 minutes or longer depending on the age of the child 

  • builds the bond between you and your child
  • stimulates their imagination
  • builds a love of books
  • provides a quiet time for your child to transition to sleep

I would read the Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter when she was very young. Her eyes would slowly close as she drifted off to sleep as I read to her. It was a happy and peaceful time that became a habit very quickly.

Whether reading to your child at an early stage provides a head start on reading and academics is debatable and probably irrelevant. Let your child develop in their own unique way and build on their strengths as they develop rather than force them. This will go a long way to helping them find their personal success and happiness. Having plenty of age appropriate books easily accessible to your child at all times allows them to explore reading when they want in a low pressure way.

Holidays after Divorce

Holidays may be the most treasured memories from your childhood. They may have been special times in your marriage. After a divorce, they may be painful times especially if you are living alone or not with your children.

Being alone during the holidays

Try to accept the situation and make the best of it. Here are some ideas

  • Deal with this by planning ahead
  • Find others to spend the holiday with
  • Do charity work that day. You will brighten the holidays for others and for yourself
  • Try to remain active. Sitting at home will likely cause you to get depressed
  • Think about getting away that day. Turn it into a long weekend and go somewhere interesting
  • Start a new tradition for that holiday

Being alone during the holidays can be especially difficult the first season or two after your divorce. You may not be looking forward to the holidays at all. You see others excited and busy and that makes you feel worse. There are no easy answers to this feeling. In many ways it is normal but the bottom line is you need to find the energy to fight it.

Do not keep putting off planning until the holiday is upon you. You will just isolate yourself then and feel very depressed. You need to set yourself a goal each day and follow through on it. Probably the most important goal is to make sure you get out of bed and out of the house every day of the holiday. Staying at home will only cause you to think about the bad stuff and it becomes a vicious cycle dragging you down.

Your kid's friends

Friends along with parents and teachers are the biggest influence in a child's life. They become an even bigger influence as kids enter their teens.


This can take many forms. Your child does not have to be physically threatened to be bullied. Girls tend to use name-calling, intimidation and social exclusion more than boys. Girls are often more subtle in their bullying than boys but can be just as hurtful. Lukewarm comments about previous friends can be a clue. Teachers can often spot these changes so checking with them now and again can help spot bullying early.

  • Teach your kid to recognize the signs of bullying
  • Talk to teachers if you suspect bullying. They are much more aware of this problem
  • Teach your child to be assertive
  • Having a group of close friends will reduce the chances your child will be picked on

Difficulty making friends

Kids can have difficulty making friends and most kids can run into this at some stage. Excluding kids, name calling, talking badly about kids behind their backs, creating rumors are all common behaviors kids have to deal with at some stage. This can really take a toll on a kids self esteem and your child may not tell you directly when this is going on. One way to address it is not to have your kid depend on only having friends at school.

  • You can enroll your kid in an activity with kids of the same age not from their school. It can be sports, dance, music, anything really. This gives them a group of kids that they can get to know independent of the school situation.
  • Make contact with the other parents and set up play dates whenever the opportunity permits.
  • A summer camp in your area also is a great source of new friends.

The bottom line is that you want your child to have school friends and have at least one other independent set of friends so if one set becomes troublesome then they can draw on their other set of friends.

After a divorce, a child may be quite withdrawn socially. If your child is becoming socially isolated, it may be time to get some professional help.

Moving to a new area

You may have had to move from your home after your divorce and so find yourself in a new area surrounded by strangers. It takes time to get to know your neighbors but your kids will also need to get to know new people. As you go through the process of meeting new people, you are acting as a role model for your kids. Admitting that you feel a little awkward or shy around strangers to the tween or teen can help them recognize that their feelings are normal. Seeing you go ahead and socialize despite those feelings allows them to learn that those feelings do not have to drive their behavior.

Non-custodial parents may not be in the area where their child goes to school. This can lead to school friends contacting your kid only when they are at the ex's house and they may be uncomfortable (usually it's the parents who are uncomfortable) making contact at your house. Breaking down those barriers involves you getting to know your kids friends and their parents and for them to get to know you.

  • Make contact with other parents at school functions
  • Offer to help at the school. Your children may now be in a new school and new kids can find it difficult to break into the social circles already established in school
  • Throw a party and invite the kids in the class
  • Make friends with neighbors who have kids
  • Get your kids involved in local sports and activities


Structure as the key to discipline in your home  

  • Structure comforts your child
  • Structure should be age appropriate
  • Be consistent
  • If mature enough, involve them appropriately in creating structure

The benefits of structure

Having a good structure in your home can help head off a lot of disciplinary problems 

  • Your child craves structure no matter how hard they try to escape it
  • The key to structure is consistency
  • Your family life needs to be as predicable as you can make it

Knowing when mealtimes are and when bed is and that they are playing soccer every Saturday comforts a child. Their world now has foundations. You will find less arguments with a structured environment especially if you show yourself to be appropriately consistent.

When kids challenge structure

Kids may challenge the structure from time to time. Often it is to reassure themselves that it is solid and consistent. If the structure and routine is no longer age appropriate, a kid may complain. The structure should match your child's individual  level of development and maturity.

Birthdays and Divorced Parents

  • Discuss party expenses with your ex before the party
  • Discuss party responsibilities also
  • Divide the day between both parents if necessary
  • Be on your best behavior around your ex for your kid's sake

You and the ex are on good terms

For hassle-free birthdays, plan well ahead. You can work together to plan a joint party or have one parent organize it and the other parent contributes financially and attends the party. This could be alternated between each parent each year.


  • the expenses including rental fees, deposits, cake, utensils, candles etc
  • who is responsible for the arrangements and other responsibilities
  • the number of kid's friends
  • the number of relatives from each side of the family
  • cleaning up after the party
  • date and time of the party
  • invitations

Be clear on all these things up front and put it in writing or an email.

Activities for Kids

  • Activities are important for your child's development
  • Do not over schedule
  • Prioritize activities for your kid
  • Find cheaper activities if necessary

Why are activities for kids important?

While school provides an outlet for your child to learn and explore, participating in activities outside school can really make a difference to your child. It gives your child the opportunity 

  • to make new friends
  • to have a wider experience of the world
  • to explore their own skills
  • even to push their limits

Changing your parenting plan

  • Avoid court if possible. Use mediation or negotiate yourself
  • Prioritize the items for negotiation 
  • Accept you and your ex may have to compromise
  • Find the best solution for your child, the silent partner at the negotiation

  Though you have a legal agreement between you and your ex after a divorce, this agreement will not anticipate all the possible scenarios that can occur. Circumstances will change, your child will get older and have different needs and unforeseen events will occur. To successfully co-parent, you cannot rely on the divorce agreement to handle all this.


It is possible to keep returning to court to resolve every change in circumstances though courts usually require a substantial change to have taken place before they are prepared to change custody agreements. This is also a very costly way to go both in money and in time. The emotional impact on your children and on you is huge and the anger and mistrust generated can destroy any further possibility of co-parenting.


Using a professional mediator can help you resolve sensitive issues. The process itself can help both of you learn how to negotiate with each other. Mediation is legally non-binding and cannot be used in court in many jurisdictions. Your mediator should have written down everything you have agreed to. You can then take this agreement to a lawyer and have it formalized.

Shared Parenting and Childcare

  • Using professional childcare can actually help you with your shared parenting.
  • They will be the voice of reason when emotions run high
  • They will be there to represent the child's best interest
  • They help with socialization, discipline and skill building.

Using daycare

Daycare can actually help with shared parenting. One parent can drop the child off in the morning and the other can pick up in the evening and the reverse can be done to return the child. This can be very useful if you do not get on with your ex and avoids the potential for arguing especially in front of your child. Make sure the teacher meets both of you and is aware of the situation.

To avoid difficulties

  • Make sure you return or replace any items supplied by the other parent
  • Any clothing should be returned washed and clean
  • Make sure you are on time in the morning and evening
  • Communicate anything important directly with the other parent

Co-parenting and clothes

  • Use "play" clothes
  • Mark clothes for younger kids
  • Don't make it a huge issue
  • Plan ahead for special occasions

Unfortunately kids clothes can be an issue for many divorced parents. It can often be a tool for control but the only person hurt by this tussle is your child. Here are some ideas to avoid this problem.

Plan ahead

If you are co-parenting you need to decide if both parents will keep sets of clothes or if one parent keeps most of the clothes. Work out who pays what for clothes and who actually shops for the clothes. As kids go back and forth between houses, so do their clothes. If they are staying overnight you need a clean set of clothes for the next day. Decide if one parent supplies those or if you will change them into clothes you supply.

Keeping track

The biggest issue comes up when clothes go from one house to another and are not returned. You can mark clothes so it is clear to which house they belong so they can be sorted and returned easily. If clothes are damaged and cannot be worn, return your child dressed in fresh clothes and let the other parent know about the worn out clothing in a polite way. You will have to be tolerant though because its inevitable that clothing will move around. Don't send your child over in clothes you are not prepared to lose. Socks and underwear are the most likely to get lost.

Kids will get dirty so make sure you have a spare set of clothes clean and ready to go. This way you can wash the set that get dirty and return them. Keep a set of "play clothes". Kids will be kids and end up getting dirty and damaging clothing. Keep a set of clothes that can get dirty or damaged without it being a big deal.

Shared Parenting and a sick child

  • Notify the other parent of any illnesses your children have
  • Let the other parent know of any doctor appointments
  • Allow plenty of phone contact as appropriate
  • Make sure both of you have access to the medications your child needs

Notify the other parent

Call the other parent, let them know what's going on and discuss the next steps with them if possible. This is not the time to get in an argument so keep a lid on emotions and avoid any blaming language on either side.

Share information on appointments

Let the other parent know about doctors appointments and tests. Hopefully both of you can be present at the doctor's office to give a complete history of the illness especially if your child has gone back and forth between homes. This also gives you an opportunity to ask questions if you have any concerns about your child's illness and to hear about the diagnosis and treatment.

Parenting plan during illness

Decide where your kid should stay while they are ill. You may want to suspend a co-parenting plan or visitation until your child is better. You can ask the doctor if this is necessary if you like. The doctor will be able to give you an unbiased opinion.

Instead provide plenty of phone access or even a visit to your home if it is appropriate and your child is well enough for it. Being able to keep in contact will help relieve the tension and concerns the non-custodial parent might have and this reduces the chance of conflict. Your child will also appreciate their support as well as yours.

Mind your language 

If you need information on how your child was feeling when at the other parent's home, ask your ex if they noticed anything unusual. Be careful how you ask questions so that your ex does not feel you are trying to accuse them of anything.

You do not want to give the other parent the impression that you are blaming them. They will likely stop telling you possibly important information and get angry. This is not in your child's best interest.

If the other parent is doing something that is contributing to your child being sick, then try letting them know in the least blaming way you can. Perhaps you can use your child's doctor or nurse to talk to both of you about the issue so it comes from a neutral person.

Coparenting and Childhood Accidents

  • Establish a plan before the crisis hits
  • Arrange contact numbers
  • Keep emergency numbers and first aid kit handy
  • Take child CPR classes

Establish a plan before the crisis hits

  • Share information on allergies and other medical history and even write it down and carry it with you. You can obtain a summary from your child's pediatrician if necessary
  • If there is an accident at daycare or school, who will respond? You may decide on the parent nearest the school or a relative who is nearby if both of you are some distance away at work
  • Know where the nearest hospital is if you need to drive there. During an emergency is not the time to be trying to find driving directions or getting lost


Arrange contact numbers

Cell phones are invaluable. Swap cell phone numbers and state whether they should be used only for emergencies or whether it is OK to use at other times. Respect the agreement. Have a backup contact number or person. If you can't be reached by cell phone e.g. in a meeting, have a designated person that can be reached who can come let you know what is going on. Call the other parent as soon as you possibly can. If you cannot make the call, ask someone else such as a nurse, coworker or neighbor to call your ex.

Talking to your ex about the kids

To some extent you and your ex will have to communicate as parents. Co-parenting will require regular communication and you will have to figure out what method of communication works best for your situation.


If you use the phone to communicate, realize it takes a lot of self control to avoid the conversation going downhill fast if an issue comes up. We can easily be misunderstood on the phone because we don't have visual clues to put the conversation in context. On the other hand, the phone does give you some distance and the ability to terminate the conversation if it gets out of hand. It also prevents any argument becoming physical if that is a concern.


Email can be used for difficult issues. Take your time replying and know that emails can form part of a legal record that can be referenced later in court. If you are feeling very emotional about an email you get, take 24 hours before replying. This gives you time to calm down, think through your choices and make an appropriate reply. Decide if a reply is even necessary. It is best to ignore insulting language or other "trash talk" and just reply to what needs to be addressed for the good of your child.

Talking to kids

You need to be tuned into your kid's life to guide them through the problems they will face and recognize when they are in over their head. Good communication needs to be built up and maintained. It cannot suddenly be created when a crisis comes along.

Good listening

Good listening skills are essential but in short supply these days. 

  • Pay attention. No distractions
  • Invite them to talk e.g. "tell me about ..."
  • Be patient as kids verbal skills are not perfect
  • Listen and look for emotions being expressed
  • Acknowledge what they are saying
  • Keep questions to a minimum

Be available when they need you

This may seem obvious but we often get caught up in the day to day hassle of life. If you really cannot make time for them there and then, make an appointment to be with them. Assure them that there will be no distractions and you will be better able to listen.

Quality factors in school

Back to School - quality factors in the school environment

As kids go back to school, we rush around getting school clothes and supplies. For some parents, their kids are just starting school. For all of us we want our kids to have the best educational opportunity we can give them. So how do we measure the quality of a school?

Back to Elementary School

Recent research results suggest that three elements are important factors in determining an elementary school's quality. These are  strong  leadershiphigh academic standards, and frequent instruction planning meetings. These factors have been linked to better third grade reading and math scores.

Back to school - teacher turnover 

Lower teacher turnover seems to correlate with better student behavior. Unstable schools tend to have a high teacher turnover and lower student self control and involvement in school.

Virtual Schooling

Would you enroll your kids  in a virtual school? This is an increasing trend which is reaching into elementary and secondary schools.

Virtual courses have come into vogue at the third level education where many college students can log on and take classes. You may know it better as distance learning. Now these virtual courses are reaching into the elementary and high school level with virtual schooling.

Advocates envision a future where traditional and virtual learning are blended together to give kids a broad education. Distance learning can connect kids to specialist courses or to other teachers or kids anywhere in the world. Classrooms can and have been connected to astronauts in space.

In the near term, the virtual classroom is fulfilling the needs of kids who are disabled, suspended, need extra help or are being home schooled. Advanced kids can take extra courses not available locally. Kids in rural areas have greater access to a larger variety of courses.

Social Structure in Britain

A unique cradle-to-grave atlas from the University of Sheffield shows Britain is becoming increasingly segregated across all ages by class, education, occupation, home ownership, health status, disability and family type. Interestingly kids living with a stepparent are much more common in rural areas than in towns and cities.

This study divided the population into seven life stages and compares over 1,000 neighborhoods, in terms of people and identities rather than geography.

Kids under 5 are isolated based on their social class

The first stage of life is under five. Children living in social housing are often in overcrowded houses whereas those with parents who own their own home tend to have extra rooms. Also these kids in the highest social class live in neighborhoods where they can only mix among themselves or the next social class.

Children 5 to 15 are more likely to live with a stepparent in rural areas

Kids 5 to 15, the second stage of life are far more likely to be living with a step-parent in rural areas (1 in 5) than in towns and cities (1 in 20). The children also benefit from their parents wealth with the average child in the wealthiest 10% of neighborhoods inheriting 40 times the wealth of the child in the poorest 10%.

Grandparents raising grandchildren

In 2005 there were 712,000 unmarried grandparents who were caregivers for their grandchildren according to the U.S. Census Bureau They comprised nearly three in 10 grandparents who were responsible for their grandchildren. (Source: 2005 American Community Survey). In total in the United States more than six million children are being raised in their grandparent’s homes.

A large increase in grand-kids living with grandparents 

Researchers, public policy makers and the media first began to notice the huge increases in grandparent maintained households around 1990, prompting them to question why this was happening. Several reasons have been offered for the dramatic increases in grandparents raising and helping to raise their grandchildren.

  • Increasing drug abuse among parents
  •  teen pregnancy
  • divorce
  • the rapid rise of single parent households
  • mental and physical illnesses
  • AIDS
  •  crime
  • child abuse and neglect
  • incarceration

are a few of the most common explanations offered.

About twice as many grandmothers than grandfathers provide care for their grandchildren

2.4 million grandparents are responsible for most of the basic needs (i.e., food, shelter, clothing) of one or more of the grandchildren who live with them. These grandparents represent about 42 percent of all grandparents whose grandchildren live with them. Of these , 1.5 million are grandmothers and 880,000 are grandfathers.

Factors that affect the level of care a grandparent provides a grandchild 

Children who grew up in cohesive families with affectionate parents exhibit stronger feelings of obligation as mature adults when they take on the grandparent role. Childhood experiences with grandparents also influence how grandparents interact with their own grandchildren. Research has also shown that relations between grandchildren and grandparents depend on current relations between grandchildren and their parents, and more importantly, on relations between their parents and grandparents.

Thimerosal and developmental problems in kids

Mercury containing vaccines and developmental problems in kids 

A new study published in the New England  Journal of Medicine looked at over 1000 children to see if early exposure to a mercury containing preservative used in vaccines affected children aged 7 - 10 years of age. This large study concluded that there was no correlation between thimerosal (mercury containing preservative) and the neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years.

The short version

Thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative previously used in vaccines raised concerns about developmental issues in kids. This new large study did not find significant problems associated with high thimerosal exposure. The investigators did not study autism. Another CDC study is looking at the concern that vaccination might be linked to autism. The scientific data to date does not support any such link. 

Thimerosal as a preservative 

Thimerosal has been used as a preservative in vaccines since the 1930s. It is 49.6% mercury by weight and is metabolized into ethyl mercury and thiosalicylate. In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated that infants who were immunized according to the recommended schedule could receive amounts of mercury exceeding the limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency for exposure to methyl mercury. As a precautionary measure, the Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics urged vaccine manufacturers to remove thimerosal from all infant vaccines as soon as was practical and recommended that studies be carried out to understand better the risks associated with mercury exposure from thimerosal-containing vaccines.

Health Concerns

The early exposure of infants to mercury raised concerns about its effect on the development of the nervous system in children. Concern was also raised about a possible link to autism. This study did not look at autism but the scientific literature to date shows no link between autism and vaccination. A CDC sponsored study looking at vaccination and autism in 250 children is expected to be published in the next year or so.

Child Custody Battles - Part 1

Divorce, whether it involved a custody issue or not, does not necessarily end parenting disputes. Such disputes can escalate into full blown child custody cases. The potential for damage to the parents and, most of all, the children is high.

Get legal representation

You are facing a custody dispute that is headed to court. Perhaps you have already received legal paperwork. Your first move should be to get legal representation. Custody of your children is too important to try to represent yourself.

  • Look for a lawyer that has experience in child custody cases.
  • Ask if they have a working relationship with a child psychologist or custody evaluator
  • Ask about the finances - retainer, hourly rate, phone, fax etc. Most lawyers have a sheet with their fees.
  • Ask what you can reasonably expect from the process
  • Be honest so your lawyer can work clearly in your best interests

A good place to start is the American Bar Association.

Parenting Challenges - Cutting

Self-harm or self-injury, often cutting, is believed to occur in some 7%-14% of adolescents who do so at some time in their life. As a divorced parent, is your child at greater risk and how do you spot this behavior and deal with a teen who is cutting?

What is self-harm or self-injury?

This is the act of a person inflicting injury on themselves, most often by cutting but can include burning, punching themselves or banging a door closed on their own hand or other such acts. Cutting can be done with blades, utility knives, tabs from soda cans, metal clips from pen caps and many other sharp instruments. Cutting occurs most commonly on the wrists, stomach or legs but can be located elsewhere.

Age and gender play a role in self-injury

Cutting and other self injury behaviors most often start in the early teens. This is most likely due to the emotional challenges and pressures of adolescence but the reasons are not fully understood. Most studies suggest that girls are more likely to exhibit such behaviors though it does occur in boys. It is not clearly understood why there is a gender difference.

Why does a teen cut themselves?

The most common motive given for teens cutting themselves is that the act of self-injury provides relief from strong negative emotions.

Common motivations include

  • Relieve anger
  • To forget about something
  • Relieve anxiety

Self-injury is sometimes termed para-suicidal behavior but for the vast majority of teen cutters, they are not trying to commit suicide. In fact teens often describe the sensation of feeling alive during and after cutting whereas they felt numb before they hurt themselves. The injuries are usually superficial and more serious injuries are usually accidents.

For students, self-harm can erupt at times of specific stresses including examinations and school pressures.

Larger psychological issues underlying cutting are not uncommon

There may be larger underlying psychological problems in teenage cutters such as depression or borderline personality disorder and many seem to have been sexually or physically abused or exposed to a traumatic childhood event. It is very important to get professional help not only to deal with the self-injury behavior itself but also any underlying issue.

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