The Jewish Woman’s Struggle for Divorce

Recent headlines about two Orthodox Rabbis, accused of kidnapping husbands, and physically forcing them to grant their wives Jewish divorces, have revealed a serious problem, a Jewish woman trapped in a divorce with a man who refuses to let her go.
Judaism does allow for divorce. However, unlike the civil process where either party may file for divorce, under Jewish religious law, only the man is allowed to ask for the divorce. He must appear before the religious court, the Bet Din, to make the request. Depending upon the community, the Bet Din might help resolve all of the parties’ divorce issues, but typically,today, they just issue a religious divorce decree called a Get.
That little piece of paper can affect generations to come. If a Jewish woman does not have a Get, she is not allowed to remarry. In many communities, she can’t even date without the Get. She is known as an agunah, a woman whose marriage is technically over, but whose husband cannot or refuses to give her a Get unconditionally and in a timely fashion. Agunah literally means a chained woman.
Should the agunah decide to enter into a civil marriage, any children she would have from this relationship would be considered a “mamzer”, a child from a forbidden sexual union. This would include incest but also includes offspring whose married mother has children with someone other than her husband. Mamzers and their offspring can’t marry within the Jewish community. Rabbis are trying to find loop holes to prevent and limit the agunah problem.
In a Jewish divorce, if the husband doesn’t start the process there is nothing the woman can do so she would be forced to give into any of his demands for her freedom. When a husband refuses to issue a Get, he is bullying and abusing his wife.
Most Rabbis are empathetic to women in this situation. Conservative and Orthodox Rabbis are providing a prenuptial agreement to couples. Many Rabbis will not perform the marriage ceremony without one.
These prenups provide that the parties agree to appear before the Bet Din to dissolve their marriage as well as agreeing that if the parties separate, the husband agrees to pay the wife a designated sum, every day, until he provides the Get. It also provides that if the wife does not accept the Get, the obligation to pay ceases. The Get isn’t finalized until the woman accepts it. Rabbis are finding that the utilizing the prenup helps to alleviate the agunah problem. Two websites where you can find the prenup as well as information on the Get process are:
•www.theprenup.org
•www.bethdin.org
•www.kayama.org provides information on the Get process

I urge every attorney, mediator and collaborative professional to make it clear in any prenuptial agreement that the couple agree to provide the other with a Get. Additionally, every Property Settlement Agreement should also include language that the parties will cooperate with the Get process and if not, can be sanctioned by the civil court. Once these items are spelled out in these documents, it is more than likely that the civil courts will enforce the religious agreement. Otherwise, such as in New Jersey, the courts will not force a party to provide a Get, unless it already was part of a written agreement. If it is not codified in a civil document, New Jersey courts see it as blurring the line between State and Synagogue/Church, because then they are requiring a party to be involved with a religious process. However, if a party signed an agreement saying they would provide a Get, then the court is just enforcing an agreement and women would no longer be trapped.

Lorraine Breitman, Esq.

Keeping Your ‘Cool’

By now you probably know the story of Antoinette Tuff, a Georgia school employee possessing courage, common sense and wisdom along with the ability to keep her cool in a terrifying situation.  She talked down a heavily armed gunman who had gotten past the school’s security system and undoubtedly saved  many adult and children’s lives. For once, no one got hurt and tragedy was averted.

The school system,  which provided crisis training instead of armaments,  and Antoinette Tuff , who had highly developed qualities of understanding and respectful human interaction,  averted a tragedy.   The gunman was brought to a point of de-escalating his fury enough to think about what he was doing and its consequences, and to stop himself while he still could. Antoinette Tuff then gave him the confidence to stay with his decision, put down his arms, lie down peacefully and surrender. The only shouting heard on the recording is when the police announced their arrival.

We fully acknowledge the character and competence of the heroine and the extraordinary cool she displayed in such a terrifying situation. The techniques that she used are also present in the tool boxes of mediators and collaborative attorneys who have also been trained to strive for peaceful conflict resolution.

Ms. Tuff set the stage for the gunman to make the difficult decisions needing to be made. Those of us in the Alternate Dispute Resolution community help our clients get beyond their angers and fears, to overcome unrealistic expectations and to tap into their abilities to solve their problems and to make the decisions that have to be made to resolve their less dramatic, but no less complicated, situations. We help them to fully understand the issues and to identify their needs and those of the others within the scope of their dispute. We also do all this, in part, by helping to create and enforce a climate of mutual respect.

That same climate of respect that saved lives in Georgia enables parties in mediation or collaborative practice cases to find their paths through their fogs of negative emotions and tap into those “better parts” of themselves to move forward with intelligence. Where they are successful, and most cases begin mediation, there is the additional payoff of increased possibilities for future cooperation. That is why few previously mediated cases come into the courts for post-divorce litigation.

Lots of times folks who are in major conflicts automatically go into warrior-mode, seeking “big gun” representation and ready to do “scorched-earth” tactics. In warrior-mode, other aspects of human behavior are often not reachable and parties can be limited to exchanging poorly thought-out one-sided ultimatums or otherwise not be fully able to address the big picture. No case should begin with the assumption that this is the best or only way to handle their situation and it is always useful to explore whether a less aggressive mode would have a better probability of success.

When it comes to resolving a divorce or other significant conflict, such as problems between or among warring siblings over a parent’s estate, or a business dispute such as an employment problem or a partnership split, we all have choices as to how to proceed. Sometimes a litigant can be persuaded to side-step from a court case to give mediation or  a Collaborative resolution  a chance.

 Antoinette Tuff should be an inspiration for us all.

Elaine Nissen, Esq.

“Shoot the Moon ” – Divorce Movie

I decided to do a little online research to find out what other people thought were “good” divorce movies. After,  I realized that not only were many of the movies new to me, one of my favorites, Bye Bye Love, wasn’t on most of the lists.

What makes a good or bad divorce movie? In my opinion, a good divorce movie has a message or opens our eyes in some way, shape or form – or maybe helps a child or adult in a real way.

The first movie on my list to watch was Shoot the Moon, a 1981 drama starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton. Shortly into the movie I realized why most people watch divorce comedies rather than dramas. Let me tell you divorce dramas can be really depressing. That being said, Shoot the Moon is a top-of-the line divorce movie.

Spoiler Alert: Shoot the Moon would likely cause a divorced or divorcing individual to relive some raw emotions which may lead to an Aha! moment.

I’ll try not to spoil it any more for you. Albert Finney (George) and Diane Keaton (Faith) have been married for years and have four daughters. The movie starts with George, a writer, crying and then calling his girlfriend from the house telephone. The teenaged daughter happens to pick up the phone and hears part of the conversation. That evening, George and Faith attend an award show for George. The next morning they have a huge fight and  George moves out.

The three younger daughters deal with the back and forth between the parents and the awkwardness of meeting their father’s girlfriend and their new situation. The teenage daughter, Sherry, wants nothing to do with her father. We know what she heard, so we know, on some leve,l that the mother didn’t tell her the nitty gritty and we are pleased  that mom does say the right things.

Mom and Sherry have a conversation and then Sherry wants to know why her father left them. Faith responds, “I don’t think he left you; I think he left me.” She didn’t bad mouth George, and she made it clear that the breakdown of the marriage was no one’s fault.  We have the  watch how the relationship between father and daughter evolves. Personally, I applaud the acting and the writing.

There are times you think that George is moving on with his life along with his girlfriend, Karen Allen, and her son from a prior marriage.  Then there are times when we think George isn’t happy in that situation, either.

Faith begins moving on with her life with the guy building her tennis court.

Although, at  times, the characters talk about having to be grown-ups, it is apparent that George can’t be that when he sees Faith moving on with her life. I know, that for some, this is a hard concept to grasp:

George had the affair first, so wouldn’t he want Faith to go on with her life? Why is he having regrets?

Well,  sometimes people in his situation just do. Marriages are complicated, so is ending a marriage. George is real.

There are some great scenes where George and Faith have some soft moments between themselves, and they each have the opportunity to remember that they were once in love. They each also had the opportunity to acknowledge their counterpart’s good qualities. Of course it made me wonder: What if they had gone to marriage counseling, could this marriage have been saved?

As we watches the characters develop, we see them experience the various stages of grief. We watch them experience denial, anger, depression and some acceptance.

As I tell my clients: No two divorces are the same. Just as people marry for different reasons, people divorce for different reasons, as well. The ending, which is intense and, in some ways, difficult to watch ,allots the viewer decide how this family’s story will unfold and what will be the fate of this marriage. To me, any other ending would have been anticlimactic.

If you want to see an intense or well-acted movie, go see it. If you want a better understanding of divorce from the perspective of the participants, go see it. There is no question in my mind that Shoot the Moon would make a great teaching tool on how to help those going through divorce and to give more insight into their dynamic.

Lorraine Breitman, Esq.

 

Visitation…My Least Favorite Word

 

child visitationIn every episode that I’ve ever seen of Inside the Actor’s Studio, James Lipton asks his guests to state their least favorite word. Well if he were to ask me, I would answer,“VISITATION”.

The word “visitation” makes me cringe because it conjures up images of parents no longer being parents but rather observers in their children’s lives. One doesn’t visit with their children, one parents them, thus, the proper term to be used in a divorce situation is “Parenting Time”.

When my husband and I are both home with our children, we are both parents and we are both parenting. If I go out for an evening and my husband is home, he’s still parenting our children. He isn’t babysitting or visiting with them. He is parenting them, and this is true for all non-divorced parents, so why should it be any different for parents who are divorced?

Not only is the term “visitation” derogatory when referring to the parent’s time with the children, what message does the term send to the children? What message does it send when you tell a child your mom/dad has visitation with you today? Doesn’t that send a message that the “visitation” parent doesn’t play an important role in the children’s lives? Today, almost every couple that I know or have worked with has joint legal custody, thus they both have equal say about all major decisions in their children’s lives, so why do people still use the word “visitation”? Again, you don’t visit your children, you parent them.

Upon divorce, parenting roles usually change just because now there is one parent in each household rather than two parents. During a marriage the parents may share certain responsibilities or one of them may take a more active role in the scheduling of play dates, social activities, doctor appointments, etc. This parent may be more likely to take the children to doctor appointments or meet with the teachers. This parent may even be the one to get the children ready for bed each night. In camp terms, this parent is the Head Counselor. In my experience this frequently is the mom.

Now upon separation, the other parent, in this case, the dad, now wants to assume many of those responsibilities. He wants to go to doctor’s visits. He wants the kids to be with him on weeknights so he can get them ready for bed and help them with their homework and in turn the mom gets angry. She says, “He wasn’t interested in all of this before the divorce. I bet he thinks he’ll have to pay less child support. Why can’t he be happy just having visitation every other weekend?”

Yes, part of the mom’s response is frustration. She may have been trying throughout the marriage to get the dad more involved. However, there also is the fear factor. What will I be if I no longer am the Head Counselor? What will I do when the children are with their father? Will my children stop needing me? As I have tried to explain to my clients, the reality is that marriage is a partnership, during which you had a partnership agreement, and now the partnership is ending and you have to come up with a partnership dissolution agreement. Dad now is realizing that he won’t be able to kiss his kids goodnight every night. He also realizes that the two of you aren’t going to be sitting on the couch or lying in bed discussing the children’s activities and all of their goings on. He realizes he needs to find out this information on his own.

If both parents can put aside their negative feelings towards each other and work together so they both are involved, the children only will benefit and will have two involved parents rather than one. So again, we’re back to parenting, not visitation.

Personally, I believe the best divorce movie ever was BYE BYE LOVE starring Paul Reiser, Matthew Modine, Randy Quaid and Rob Reiner. The movie follows the lives of 3 divorced dads (Reiser, Modine and Quaid) for a weekend. With humor and realism it shows the struggles these three friends have with parenting, going on with their lives and coping with their parenting roles. It also shows some of the struggles and heartache the children feel. One can’t help but cry when Randy Quaid drops off his pre-school daughter at her maternal grandparents and she begins screaming for her daddy when he hands her off to grandma. Rob Reiner plays a radio talk show host Dr. Dave Townsend and is doing a 48 hour show on D-I-V-O-R-C-E. His radio show frequently is heard in the background. Reiner’s messages are divorced people should get over it and he also has lots of mean things to say about divorced dads and his perception of their failure to take responsibility for their children.

Well, near the end of the movie Randy Quaid has had it and storms into Reiner’s studio and he verbally gives it to him. Of course, the mics are on and his diatribe is broadcast all over the airways. Quaid’s character is a father of 3, one high schooler, one elementary age son and a pre-school daughter. He tells the doctor divorce isn’t easy. He goes on to explain that before the divorce his ex-wife was the parent who did everything, he thought he was involved in his children’s lives but it wasn’t until the divorce that he realized that he really wasn’t. He makes it clear that as a result of the divorce he is a better parent. When his children are with him he has to do everything for them and now when they go back to their mom, he cries, he worries about them all of time because now he knows what he is missing. I admit it, I cry everytime I see this scene. Although I also have to admit that when I saw this movie in the theatre I really wanted to stand up and cheer for him, but I was on a date and I didn’t know how he’d react.

Quaid’s character sums it up: When he’s with his children, he is both mom and dad. He is the parent and that is the case with all divorced parents. So as I’ve said, no one is visiting. They are parenting.

I am not saying that the transition is easy, but if the parents work together it can be easier and better for the children. Certain processes such as mediation and the collaborative divorce practice can help couples work together to develop parenting strategies that are in the family’s best interests. Therapists and family coaches can help as well. Even if you’re in the litigation process, the two of you can go out for a cup of coffee and talk about it, because no matter what you say or do, you are both the parents. Neither one of you is a visitor.

By Lorraine Breitman

29Apr

Therapy Can Be an Important Part of the Divorce Process

 

Divorce Process One of the things that I have noticed over the course of my career as a family law attorney is that people going through the divorce process have an unwillingness to go to therapy even though they could benefit greatly from the process. “I don’t need help, I’m dealing with it” or “I need a divorce, not therapy” are refrains I have become used to hearing.
What seems counter intuitive to me, though, is that seeking counseling after the death of a loved one has no stigma attached, while many individuals going through divorce believe getting therapy after the death of a marriage does. The goals of the two are the same: To help people get on with their lives, and when children are involved, helping their children deal with these significant changes in their lives as well.

One shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed about getting help.
If you are having a difficult time coping with a divorce or with the changes in your life that are the result of a divorce, guess what. That’s normal. A divorce is a traumatic event in a person’s life and it takes time and often outside help to heal. The good news is that you’re not alone. It is natural in your position to need someone who will listen to you and help you adjust to your new life and the death of your old life. Seeking help in your time of emotional need from a professional is not only nothing to be ashamed about, but in a lot of cases, the most prudent step you can take. Even if your soon to be ex-spouse tries to make it an issue in a custody dispute, chances are that the court won’t see it as an issue, because the Judge gets that you are seeking help to better adjust, and that is something to be commended not condemned.

If children are involved, they need someone to talk to.
Children are not always “resilient” as is commonly claimed. They may try to act brave, but imagine how difficult and confusing it is for a child to be caught in a tug of war between two parents, going from one house to another, or not getting to wake up in the same bed every morning. Many parents think their children don’t need therapy because the child can talk to them, but seriously, if your parents were going through a divorce, would you want to talk to mom about dad and vice versa? Would you feel comfortable telling your parent you aren’t happy with him or her? Children of divorce have their own set of issues and you should be open to your child seeing a mental health professional.

Your actions affect your children.
Consider the harmful effect on the children when parents don’t communicate well. For example, something I’ve seen over and over again is the “I don’t even mention him/her” syndrome.
“My child is secretive about what happens when she is with my ex and whenever we discuss her feelings she tells me one thing and tells my ex something else. She can’t know how much I hate him because I never bad mouth him. In fact, I don’t mention him at all.”
If you think not mentioning your ex is helping your child, you are wrong. This type of behavior teaches children that they can’t mention their other parent when they are with you because it is a taboo subject. They get that you don’t like your ex and your child is worried that if she takes your ex’s side not only will your feelings be hurt but that you will get angry as well. Not mentioning the other parent is the same as bad mouthing him or her.
Another trap that is easy to fall into is “I don’t interfere” disease.

“I’m not going to interfere. I’m not going to tell my children they have to abide by our parenting plan and go with their other parent because I’m not going to take sides.”
If you think this is not taking sides, you are mistaken. By not telling the children they have to go, you are telling them they don’t have to go. In most states, the parent with residential/physical custody is obligated to have children abide by the parenting plan and if they don’t obligate the children, the residential parent is in violation of the parenting time agreement.
You may not even realize that you’re placing your children smack in the middle of your divorce issues, but a therapist can help show you how to better handle these discussions with your children so that you do not transfer negative messages to them, however inadvertently.

Going to therapy will make your life easier.
So many of my clients have come into my office angry, and everything they do in the divorce process is motivated by that anger. There are others who are depressed and so crippled by it that they want other people to make their decisions for them. In both situations neither is happy with the final decisions/agreements. Some divorcing individuals have difficulty moving forward, and again the inability to move forward affects their ability to go through their divorce process. Most clients vent to their divorce attorney but really? Why are you paying your lawyer $250, $300, $400, $500 an hour to vent your anger when you could be paying the therapist for a hell of a lot less?
Whether it’s a mediation session or a settlement conference or your attorney is trying to have a meeting with you and you have all this anger, how can you reach a proper settlement? Or if you’re so depressed, how can you reach a settlement? If you are stuck in the mud because you can’t move forward, how can you make the best decisions for your future?
In my perfect world, both parties would seek therapy to guide them through the difficulties of divorce and help them learn how to deal with each other as divorced parents. lf divorcing clients could be more civil to each other and were able to think clearly while negotiating the issues, they would save so much time and money. In the Collaborative law process we have mental health professionals who are trained as coaches to help the parties deal with each other in a more civil manner. Even parties who are not divorcing through the collaborative process still can benefit from the training and experience of these individuals.
Almost all of the members of a divorcing family can benefit from therapy and depending upon the circumstances, insurance may cover some or all of it. From what I have seen in my practice, just having a professional there to listen to and talk you through what you’re feeling provides benefit. Don’t let your fear of being labeled prevent you from seeking the therapy you need.

 

By Lorraine Breitman

29Apr

Poor Lady Edith !

Poor Lady Edith! If you watched PBS’ Downton Abbey you had to sympathize when she learned that the wonderful man she finally met was unavailable for marriage because he was chained forever to a wife in a mental institution.

The divorce laws of the Downton era could be brutal but they continue to provide a powerful theatrical device for period costume dramas. The theme appeared earlier in the series as well because Bates and Anna could not marry as the wife from whom he had been long separated wouldn’t give him a divorce. Her sudden death initially sent Bates to prison, convicted of murder since he most certainly had a strong motive. Oh, the drama and suspense.

Historically, people who agreed to divorce or who had unusual resources and real or made-up evidence of wrongdoing could manage to do what they needed to do. But others had to stay stuck in bad or dead marriages until or unless fate intervened. Sometimes the old rules made good sense, as in protecting women and children when men were the only ones able to earn a living wage and their wives had no property rights and even had to forfeit what they brought into the marriage.

Many substantial changes to divorce and marriage laws accompanied the social changes of the latter part of the 20th century. But as a carry-over from the bad old days the legal process still involved pleading and proving fault whenever a spouse refused to “give” a divorce for purposes of special advantage or to cause harm, or if it was otherwise impossible to come to settlement terms.

In 2007 New Jersey created the true no-fault ground of “irreconcilable differences” which could be used even in contested cases. Disagreement about whether or not there are irreconcilable differences is in itself an irreconcilable difference so without pointing any fingers the statute is satisfied. Similarly, New York added the ground of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” in 2010 and the result is essentially identical. Both configurations reflect negativity about the marriage, not the other person, and attacks, blame and fault are now essentially gone from divorce practice except in those relatively rare cases where financial or other misconduct could affect debt or asset distribution or parenting plans.

This does not necessarily make the work of resolving a divorce case easier, just more efficient and less provocative and inflammatory at a time when parties need to create plans for their and their children’s futures and settle their pasts. Fulfilling interests and needs and coming to dignified resolutions are not the stuff of drama and entertainment but it makes a very big difference in the lives of very real people. Mediation and Collaborative Practice work well within the context of modern divorce practice. Endless conflict and drama are great plot lines for soap operas. Not so much in real life and for real people!

Elaine Nissen, Esq.

Two Homes – One Family

The holidays are over and somehow you got through them because you didn’t want to spoil it for the whole family. But you still feel that divorce is the only answer at this point [hopefully, after having tried ways to have it work]. You don’t feel that you can continue as a family, in one house, but still hope to be a family, in two houses. Your children are young, [or not], impressionable and need two parents [as we all do, preferably]. You don’t want to slog through a painful and costly custody battle, evaluations ,etc. and want to continue to have a voice in parenting, without the negatives that some of your friends or family members have experienced in getting their divorces.

There is an answer – Collaborative Divorce.

With this kind of divorce, your attorneys, both collaboratively trained, are committed to helping you get divorced, out of Court and the public record, in a non-contentious environment. Collaborative attorneys work together for the benefit of the couple, or family, if there are children, at the same time they are advocating for you. The result is that you can each walk away from the marriage knowing that not taking a ‘battle’ approach allows you both to move on, feeling better about your spouse and yourself, which is invaluable when you have children, of any age.

A number of Collaborative attorneys work with a team which handles, as needed, the emotionally charged aspects of divorce. Specifically trained and licensed mental health practitioners function in two roles, as a Divorce Coach or a Child Specialist. These professionals free the attorneys to do what they are best trained to do and offer their clients additional services, often needed during divorce, at less than attorney rates. Divorce Coaches help their clients overcome any emotional obstacles (which can result in less billable attorney time) and offer them improved ways of coping, so crucial during the divorce experience and useful for a lifetime. They do not serve as therapists in these roles but can refer to a therapist , if indicated. Although a client may already be in therapy, the work of a Divorce Coach is different. It is brief and focused on the present, getting through the divorce with your dignity intact. Many therapists are not trained in this kind of coaching and would not, ethically, be able to fill both roles. Therapy is a confidential process and divorce coaching involves sharing pertinent information with the Collaborative, when useful. Outside of the team, all information is confidential.

When a couples has children, the manner in which they divorce sends a powerful message. The most important ‘ divorce’ factor in a child’s future emotional development is how well their parents continue to co-parent during and after the divorce. The Child Specialist is another team role filled by a mental health practitioner, who has had years of experience working with children. He/she is the only member of the team to meet the child(ren) and becomes their “voice”. Children are often not always forthright with their parents, at this time, for fear of hurting their feelings, etc. When parents are not able to agree about the children, the Child Specialist, trained in child development, family relations, parent education, communication skills and marital transitions, helps parents more fully understand each child’s needs, concerns and wishes. The goal is to assist parents in helping their children adapt and move forward, in the best way possible, during and after the divorce. It is possible to have one family in two homes when parents learn how and each family member benefits.

Sharon Klempner, MSW, LCSW, BCD

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Keeping Peace During The Holidays

Does anticipation of the coming holidays have you stressed – gifts to buy, people to invite, meals to make, in addition to your already busy daily schedule?  First, enjoy a slow, long, deep breath and then, keep reading.children holidays

The frenzy of festivities for adults inevitably trickles down to children.  They sense tension (if not the reason for it) and react.  Children are creatures of habit and find comfort in the security of routine….knowong what comes next.  It gives them some sense of control, which is something they don’t yet have, in general.  As holiday preparations interfere with parents’ usual routines and their stress level increases, and patience decreases, children often show signs of distress,  becoming more clingy, needy, cranky or combative.  They may present problems with activities that they normally do with relative ease.  Bedtime, waking up, going to school or their play may be affected.

If you observe any of the above, or other changes, in your child’s behavior lately, you might want to consider a quick self-check.   Are you  feeling overwhelmed by addes responsibilites?  Do you have less time to play or talk with your children?  Do you feel less patient when they are not being angels?  Take another deep breath!

Your first step is to help yourself.  You need to summon your support system – spouse, parents, family, friends – to lighten your load.  See if you can organize your time better, eliminating the frills for a while.  Only do what is most important;  many tasks and chores can wait until after the holidays.  A babysitter, even a young one who can occupy the children while you are at home, can offer some breathing space.  Keeping as many of the routines that your children are attached to helps keep them grounded.

Children are often the most problematic when you really need to get something done.  Spending ten or fifteen mintues with them (a story, game or simple project that they can continue with themselves) should allow you to return to your chore more peacefully.  If what you are doing is something they can participate in (making cookies, etc.), even at a very simple level, they feel important and may actually be helpful.  Even clean-up can be done together if it’s presnted as fun (“see if you can beat the clock”, etc.).  It’s also easier to do if there’s something special coming after.  (Sometimes bribes are useful, if not overdone.)

Young children can feel overwhelmed by the level of activity  –  crowds of pople, having to sit on Santa’s lap, worrying about Santa and all those reindeer on the roof, having to kiss or be adorable for scores of relatives and friends.  What we take for granted or fun can be stressful to a child, depending on their personality and age.  Taking a few moments to listen or observe your child, especially if they are not yet verbal (or inclined) to express their feelings, can save a lot of time and energy.

The spirit of the season will be remembered, in the long run, not necessarily the amount or size of presents or the number of events attended.  Feeling safe and secure in a loving family ignites the spark of the warm glow we feel when we think of the hoidays.  Relax, another deep breath and enjoy !

Sharon Klempner MSW, LCSW, BCD

Counseling and Mediation