Ex-Trap Stories: Imagine This

Imagine making agreements with your ex and not having a person gaslight you on a regular basis.

Imagine going through a cooperative learning program in which most issues you’ve been dealing with for years are actually figured out and put in writing.

Imagine not having your kids feel the frustration from the games played during agreements and disagreements or lack there of.

Imagine not being cruel to your children and your ex any longer.

This would be so nice and it works well for the parents in the Tranquil Parenting program.

Prior to working in the program, frustrating situations like below are the norm.

Imagine receiving an email from your child’s father blaming you for not giving them extra time they never asked for, but also knowing they won’t let you see your child on your birthday, time is limited with your family due to distance and no alternate arrangements are possible AND the other parent won’t even agree to meet with you half way for drop offs…

Parents, this is divorce. Just know your ex is not your friend and that every day can be a holiday.

The email below is from an actual father (not named) doing this exact thing. He fought for an order and then blamed the mom for following the order.

This father fought for the local court’s holiday schedule and then argues that he is the one doing favors yet plays keep away on the days the mom actually asks for.

The holiday schedule calls for a 6pm transfer time.

In these cases I simply remind parents that any day can be a holiday and that not all emails need a response.

Notice only the children in the case have birthday privileges included in the schedule. That in itself is a problem. Parents and other siblings are not important enough, thus creating the opportunity for narcissistic traits…

It seems the times set is to be fair yet not perfect. I’ve heard one judge say, if parents cannot agree, this is the best most fair arrangement. If they want something else, they can agree to something else. If they cannot agree than this is their option. They can just deal with it.

I’ve also heard that eventually the schedule will switch as the years pass and eventually everything will be flipped due to the calendar changing. For this mom it has yet to flip and will not during her children’s childhood. She will never have the kids for her birthday. Aka, the kids will never be with their mom on her birthday unless the father allows or they go to court. Who knew during the divorce proceedings that one parent could actually play keep away like this and it would be allowed.

With the type personalities that cannot agree, it’s best to just stick to the order you have and not alter EVER unless you have a signed stipulation.

The mom in this case offered to sign a stipulation to agree to the adjustments suggested by the father in which he didn’t respond.

It seems the father simply wanted the night off for a Christmas party, but took advantage of a situation to look like a “good guy”.

Another situation for this family was parent teacher conferences. The mom requested to take the kids with her (as well as he). Dad agreed, but as long as his stipulations were met. Unfortunately, he refused to name his stipulations and would not sign anything.

Open ended agreements turn into a disaster when parents cannot agree. The father is not willing to settle anything on their own unless it’s through the courts using manipulation tactics of filing for full custody using a lot of money, CPS calls and therapist appointments that mom has no idea was going on.

This family tried to switch days in order for the kids to go to a wedding. The kids went to the wedding with yet another open ended agreement. The switch was to be on a Friday when the mom planned on having a house warming party for her new home. Dad changed his mind so mom rescheduled. Dad changed his mind again the day before the first scheduled date. So no one was available for the party besides the dad showing up to see the kids on the front sidewalk and a few friends in the back yard. Dad was pacing back and forth to see who was there trying to take a peek in the backyard at the new boyfriend.

These situations happen often when agreements are not made by stipulations and one parent won’t actually agree to anything in writing.

Financial agreements also remain unmet many times as they promise, but never follow through. You pay what you agreed to and they take you to court to pay what they want you to pay for in addition or at least half of what they agreed to. These type parents keep every record of anything they and their parents, uncles, brother, sisters etc. buy for your children just to show they pay more.

In the end, the courts see this, your ex knows this and of course the kids see this and know exactly what’s going on. One situation could be that the kids learn to disrespect their spouse or children just the same. The other is they begin to resent you.

To the parents playing this game, End result is not that your keeping your ex from your children.. your keeping your child away from the person they love on their birthday, holiday, the person they want to be with during tough times. You’re pushing them away from you. This is what cruelty looks like and it’s your fault.

Parents who want to change this pattern and move away from this type of cruelty, find alternative paths can apply to work with me.

In 6 sessions, all of this could end!

The programs belief is that with communication and cooperation, the parents can come together and allow their children to experience everything they would have participated in as if the parents never separated.

Ex-Trap Stories: Life & Death

People of divorce and separation with children think of certain details that others do not think of.

Could you imagine secretly hoping a death or funeral of a loved one happened on “your day”?

Could you imagine being asked when you are going to take your children back to the other parent immediately following the passing of a loved one?

Could you imagine being told you cannot have your children or even talk to them on the phone when your loved one is lost?

Could you imagine your child not being able to participate in their grandparents or other family members services unless you scheduled everything on “your day”?

These type things are the situations some parents have to endure.

Let’s look at this from the child’s perspective…

Could you imagine as a child missing the passing and services of your family members unless it was on the day with the right parent?

Could you imagine not being able to be with your parent as they grieve?

Could you imagine not being able to grieve with someone who understands your relationship with the deceased or even being told that you have to immediately go back to the other parent because it’s the wrong day to grieve?

Parents, let your children grieve and spend time with the family as if the separation never happened. This is the time that “my day vs. your day” should not matter.

I’ve seen parents fight for rights that were much less important than these, but turn around and give limited time for the moments that really matter.

Don’t stop the phone calls, don’t stop the visits, don’t shorten the time with emails asking when they will be back.

I’ve seen one parent who handed the children over for more than a week without a plan of return only to have the other parent ask when they were coming back only a few hours after they went to be with the deceased.

There should be no scores being kept at a time like this.

Life and death happen for everyone, even on the nights when they are at the “other” home.

This is a time for tranquility, let your children participate and not regret that you would not recognize that each person who your child loves is just as important to your child as they are to the other parent.

#tranquilparenting

Schedule Changes

Applicants and current participants,

Please know due to a family member passing, I will not be available this Saturday, January 11th. My 14 month old granddaughter lost her fight to leukemia and gained her wings.

I will be available to schedule appointments to be held on January 18th. Some of you are awaiting materials, I will be certain to email each of you on Monday, January 13th to touch base. I am aware that a few of you have contacted me and we have made alterations already, I will still reach out to make sure you have everything you need.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Sonja

 

Ex-Trap Stories: Who Loves You More?

We’ve all heard that cute little innocent saying, “Love you more…”, but in the world of separation and divorce, who loves the child most is an actual thing that parents use to gain more parenting time and even custody. Something used in court called, the child’s best interest actually asks who loves the child most and who does the child love most. Luckily we have smart attorneys and judges who use this document to prove both parents and the child love each other. I have worked with parents who really think it’s a measurable tool and that the kids and themselves love each other most and not the other parent.

There are many ways your ex can trap your children into the game of who loves you most and you could be playing too without knowing it or maybe just in defense of the other’s actions.

It’s a competition that hurts children more than anyone knows.

Let’s break this down further with 5 ways of cruelty.

1. Phrases for alienation…

-it’s just you and me kid.

-I guess it’s just us now that, (mom or dad) left.

After seeing these type phrases being said to one child for years and years, then the parent passed away, it was deviating to the child. This child never recovered and still to this day, they feel alone. 18 years later.

2. Favoring the child in competition

– Bribery

– Narcissism

– Playing favorites

– Playing each other against each other

– He said she said

Be careful, these traits go unnoticed until it’s too late to fix them.

3. Loneliness in adulthood

– Children believe they only have so much room in their hearts and cannot love both parents. Later in life, they have way too much guilt to ever go back to the parent who did not supposedly love them the most.

4. Grass is greener on the other side syndrome

– Children learn to jump ship too soon instead of resolving things. They learn to go back and forth between the parent who loves them the most at the time. Possibly even with their own spouses.

5. Detachment Issues

– Children grow to be adults and even think their parent loves them more than their spouse and they never bond with them. They never leave the nest and never grow in their own independence with their own family they create.

All of these reasons create the atmosphere for the cycle of separation and divorce to begin again and generational abandonment continues for each child.

5 ways to stop this, NOW!

The only way to stop this is to stop it.

1. Let your child have a relationship of their own with both parents independently.

2. Let your children know their is enough room in their hearts to love as many people as they want.

3. Do not belittle anyone, especially their parents.

4. Repeat this phrase in front of your children as much as possible, “The more that love you, the better.”

#preventcrueltytochildren #themorethatloveyou

Ex-Trap Stories: Financial Ruins

Ex-Trap Stories: Financial Ruins

If your child’s other parent and you are not able to make decisions on a regular basis and then they make one… make sure you have any agreement in writing and put it in a signed stipulation… the full agreement.

Do NOT believe anything just because you want to. Believe it once it is signed.

Do not take action without a real agreement or working with a trained mediator or take a parenting course like Tranquil Parenting. Many parents try so hard to co-parent and give up so much just to keep things calm when actually it makes things worse for them. It could just be a trap to get you to pay for more than your budget and will eventually break you into financial ruins such as bankruptcy. Which is exactly what happened to the mom in the story below.

This story I heard recently began with the Dad randomly agreeing to pay half of this that and the other along with unrealistic… too good to believe agreements. Mom wasn’t falling for it and she didn’t have the funds to accept his agreements at the moment anyhow, but she believed she was covered because she had emails where he agreed to pay. She said she still didn’t understand why he was trying to be so nice.

Once she did not agree, he turned nasty and the demeaning emails began trying to make her feel guilty. Pushing every day to get her to pay for more things and sign contracts with her just as he had done before and then he never paid any of it.

This is a true story and the exact reason why I work with parents so these type things do not continue to work this way in these families.

Dad agreed to pay half of son’s driver’s training. As soon as Mom dropped son off to the driver’s training class that Dad set his son up for the night before, Mom found that Dad didn’t actually pay anything for it, so she had to come up with the total amount.

Next she found out he was no longer willing to pay for a school trip he agreed to pay half for if she paid half of driver’s training. He didn’t ever tell her he wasn’t willing to pay until a surprise court date came along.

Mom had paid 100% of Sprint phone costs and services costs for the children since the children were both 9, which was a total of 10 years. This equaled over 20,000. The verbal agreement over the phones was if Mom kept the phones, Dad would pay the extra things as much as he could.

Finally, braces were in order for two of the kids and Mom had just forked over $455 for driver’s training and was saving up for the trip.

She decided with her financial planner that she was no longer able to pay for the phones, the trip and half of the braces.

Dad agreed to pay for the phones if Mom began to pay for the extra things. Mom had already paid for half of the year in phones and half of the extra things.

Then the mom was turned into CPS for things that weren’t true such as not having any food in the house, and a full out custody battle began. She then had to pay to defend herself and hired an attorney. All of these things combine effected 1/3 of Mom’s income for almost an entire year because she had to take time off.

The outcome, the Mom who works 3 part time jobs and receives state assistance has now been forced to pay for an attorney for a custody battle, drivers training, 7 months worth of phones and the school trip while Dad paid for the phones for 7 months and his attorney.

The final agreement was that 50/50 custody was not changed and whoever signs the kids up for anything has to pay.

This story shows me that nothing is ever fair AND never be the one who signs your kids up for anything or drops your kids off to anything with EVEN WITH an agreement via email, unless you have the money to pay for it.

It just seems like the kids are the ones who are hurt. All this money could have been used to pay for the trips and braces. Mom is still figuring out how she is going to pay for half the braces and the school trip. Dad is just sitting there waiting for Mom to fail so he can take her back to court again even though he is not paying anything more that what she paid for 10 years without any child support.

She did file for child support since her medicaid application date was up. This time she did not waive the option for Dad to pay and was awarded a small portion. Since Mom is on assistance and Dad only works part time 2/3 of the year, she receives a little over $6 a month.

Most parents come to me just after this type trauma hits their family. They review what just happened and equal everything out, remove resentment, work on coping tools and communication techniques to begin again with self made stipulations that are signed by both parties or work with their attorneys to get them signed.

So many parents go through this or should I say so many children. And this story is only the financial portions of a custody debate.

I have yet to hear Dad’s side of the story, but I bet it’s just as devastating as Mom’s. I can see that at least $8,000 could have gone towards the children in this family. This custody debate ruined a few years worth of finances for both of them.

Sometimes I think ex’s actually like to make each other hurt financially so they look like the better parent. They pinch and pinch and pinch until the other parent loses everything.

I love when I see parents supporting each other… those parents normally aren’t in my class.

Happy it wasn’t my story.

Use your energy wisely…

Keep the drama to yourself and focus your attention on resolution.

I hear parents constantly giving updates about their family battles and how they called their attorneys, Cps, wrote letters to the judges, post every update on social media and even worse, discussed every detail with their child.

Instead of burning your energy doing these reports, spend some time actually resolving things with your child’s other parent.

Remember the conversation about meeting halfway or altering a few times from the holiday schedule? Well, finish the discussion and make an agreement! Write your own stipulations and sign it.

You only look like you are out of your league when you cause drama and have negativity towards the person you chose to have children with.

Next… enjoy those children and teach them how to respect both parents. They will be adults one day and possibly will need to know how to respect their spouse.

#betheexample

12 things not to say to separated parents during the holidays.

merry christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you parents out there, especially the parents who are without their children at their family parties. I have put together a list of 12 things not to say to separated parents during the holidays and why (up to 67% of the population).

This year, I have had the children with me during Yuletide and Christmas Eve when our family celebrates, next year I won’t have them until everything is over.

1. COMMENT: Children should be at EVERY event and live the life they would have had regardless if their parents separated and not dependent on a court order schedule.
REASON: Some parents call CPS on each other, need a court order to meet half-way, schedule their exact over-night stays and stay in their cars during transitions. They cannot simply just do this commonsense type scheduling on their own.

2. COMMENT: “Christmas can be celebrated any day’.
REASON: First of all, you must have your children all the time at every event. In real life families have traditions as it should be. Traditions are handed down by our ancestors. So, the families who get together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day still only get together when they do and the children are just sitting on the couch wishing they could be at the parties they miss out on every year. Of course we celebrate our home parties any day, but that is not what separated parents cry about, it’s the lack of presence with the family parties.

3. COMMENT: “You chose this.”
RESPONSE: Empathy is missing here, totally. As if the parents really need this type of comment from a loved one.

4. COMMENT: “The families could just schedule around what days you have the kids. The school break is about 14 days long. Pick a day.”
RESPONSE: Again, 67% of families are in this mess. The FOC court order is almost all the same. One year 6 pm the day school lets out until Christmas morning at 10 am and the next year from Christmas morning from 10 am until they go back to school. Most families chose either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

5. COMMENT: “The kids will be adults and do what they want when they are older.”
REASON: Bonds begin within the years of childhood. If the kids only see the full family every other year, the bonding time is missed.

6. COMMENT: “The kids know they are loved.”
REASON: No, they do not. Imaginary love is not possible in little minds.

7. COMMENT: “But every other is fair.”
REASON: Every other is fair to the parents. EVERY is fair to the children.

8. COMMENT: “You will have them for New Year’s.”
REASON: The family does not get together for New Years.

9. COMMENT: “The kids need to know life is not fair.”
REASON: Maybe life Is not fair, but family time should not have to be only for those who have whole families. Children deserve love as it’s given and not removed because of a schedule provided for them ripping them away from their family every year. Just think… to us, they are without our family every other year. To them, they are kept from family every year. It just switches which family members are celebrating without them. They feel sorrow and guilt every year. We only feel it every other year.

10. COMMENT: “This is what the courts found to be acceptable, your family is not unique. It’s ok.”
REASON: Not true, each child and their upbringing is unique. If we really want to look at what is the best interest for our children, we need to look at finding the best schedules and how to keep them happy and involved with their own family traditions. A generic schedule leaving them out of family events is cruel.

11. COMMENT: “That is too much back and forth… so stressful… so busy.”
REASON: Compare that to them not going to parties and feeling sad. They would have done this back and forth if the parents had not separated. This is just an excuse.

12. COMMENT: “They can video chat.”
REASON: This is a lame attempt at being at an event. 10 minutes of video chat is not the same as being there and you know it.

Separated Parents, please know there are many of us out there feeling the emptiness and many more children feeling it as well. Please know that your children are resilient and will pull through all of this. With help, you could fix this for the next year.

During the Tranquil Parenting classes, the parents discuss when they have parties and how to schedule it so the children may be at every party. For these children, we can celebrate. In the upcoming years, I send hope that many more clients can enjoy this type of life for their children. Apply online if you would like to work to resolve this for your children.

Others who stand by and watch this crazy activity of keep away during the holidays, please be kind and support shared parenting. Our children are watching and learning how things should/could be.
#preventcrueltytochildren #monkeyseemonkeydo #newyearsresolution

Merry Christmas,
Sonja

Want to change your Divorce and prevent cruelty to your children? Stop using these terms!

Everyone knows the legal system uses certain terms such as Visitations, Defendant/Plaintiff, Ex-Spouse, Court Order, Divorce, Court, Friend of the Court, Custody, Temporary Order, Child Support and other words that have a negative indication that someone is wrong and someone is right totally ignoring that parents are parents that have feelings and especially the fact that children have emotions that are a mess during this time of change.

If you want to change how your child is affected, I suggest you do not use these harsh terms with your children and definitely not with your husband or wife. Let your attorney and judge use these terms as it’s their vocabulary they need to use for their legal termed work environment.

In homes we don’t walk around on a regular basis saying that the child is the defendant when the plaintiff mom accuses little Tommy of not taking out the garbage. When Mom comes home from work and Dad leaves to go to work and they switch hands, it’s not called “visitation”. This is simply a change of hands due to the families scheduled plan allowing time for each other to take responsibility and cover for each other and take care of the kids needs.

If we are looking to change the way everyone sees divorce, we need to change the words we use in order to change everyone’s thinking.

If we are wanting children to not be alienated then we need to stop the word “win” from being used.

Divorce is not and never has been a “win” or “lose” situation, so why do we need to continue to say these words, especially when no one is ever happy with the outcomes.

Below are some words that we could change in order to think differently and put our families’ lives in perspective.

  • Win/Lose=Complete
  • Visitations=Parenting Time
  • Defendant/Plaintiff=Mom/Dad
  • Ex-Spouse=Kids Mom/Dad or use their name (there’s an idea)
  • Court Order=Parenting Plan
  • Divorce=Separation Agreement
  • Court=Place where we filed our agreement
  • Friend of the Court=Place where we discuss and mediate over separation agreement
  • Custody=Current Arrangement for Parenting Time or Time with Parent
  • Temporary Order= Temporary Arrangement
  • Child Support=Money for the kids (that would have normally gone towards the kids anyway)

Prior to divorce all parents have arrangements, agreements, schedules etc. Why change everything to be a foreign language just because you are asking the legal system to help you make decisions that both parents cannot make on their own.

I’ve heard it said that children are resilient. Yes, they are while they are resolving transitions already in their minds, please don’t make them try to do this with words they aren’t even familiar with and respect each other enough to not use these terms with each other as you create your new schedules and agreements.

~SONJA HOWELL

New Hours & More Content

More content on it’s way! I remember the days of writing blogs and creating videos… I’m going back to it! I loved doing it.

In order to be able to create these materials and work with parents, I am making my schedule more structured. Tranquil Studio’s office hours will be Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm.

Being available at all hours is not beneficial to the program or my health. It is only helping the parents that I am working with at the time when I am being flexible.

Flexible for any hour, any day, any cancellations, any texts at any hour, any phone calls… This is all going to drive me crazier than I already am. 🙂

Look forward to more content from the studio and less silence while I run around at all hours of the days.

Blog: https://tranquilparenting.wordpress.com/

Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/mssunnyzes1