Marriage-Divorce Coaching


Thank you for stopping by.

Due to health reasons, the Divorce Support Plus website was closed several years ago, but Sharon Shenker is returning to her passion of helping others through family reconstruction, or even better, saving families by reconstructing the relationship(s).

Please join conversations, ask questions, or contact me...
My email is

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Before You End It All

Don't let relationship difficulties destroy your family!

Before You End It All… try working on making your relationship better!

No one can promise it will be easy to rebuild the love after it feels lost - it will be difficult! - but it is possible. The reason is simple - marriage is not the problem, it's the two people in the marriage who create(d) the problems. Things may seem even more hopeless to you now that you've read that. You may be thinking, "Oh, great! Now we're really out of luck for saving our marriage." But that isn't true either. Because there's a secret I want to share…
If you're struggling in your marriage, it's probably because your parents struggled too. The thing is that we learn our interpersonal and relationship skills and techniques from our parents; the good and the bad ones. So, my question to you is, who's going to break the cycle? Will YOU be the one to change things for your kids and the generations to come? Or will your children have to suffer the same burden as you? It’s up to YOU. There's nothing better for your children than to be raised amidst the comfort and security of parents who love each other instead of being the victims of an unhappy and unhealthy family. If your children don't see love between you and your partner, (their parent or step-parent!) it won't really matter in the long run, where they go to school or how fashionably they get to dress. But, if they witness true love, you will be giving them the greatest gift life has to offer. How about it? Do you want to be a really great parent by doing everything you can to succeed with your marriage?

If you have no children and want to end a long-term relationship from someone you once loved… you might be thinking that what you just read does not apply to you and that you can just pick a plan from that song, `Fifty ways to leave your lover`` but, you are probably still wrong. So many people think that they will just find a ``better partner`` and all will be fine with their next relationship. Wouldn`t that be great! Just dump the lousy one and trade them in for a better model, as if people and relationships are disposable. Unfortunately, if we find ourselves in a relationship with someone whom we eventually believe have all the problems, created the problems or are the problem, we are usually very mistaken.
The simple truth is that if we come from a dysfunctional family, to whatever degree and about whatever issues, we are walking into our relationships with the blueprint for creating a toxic, troubled or dysfunctional relationship. We missed out on some of what we would have benefited from and we grew up with issues, wounds, insecurities, poor skills, etc. that were part of our baggage. If and when we are insecure, immature, angry, demanding, selfish, demeaning, and/or wounded as a result of our childhood or past relationships... we really can make a mess of things.
But, people can change! We can learn new behaviours, and stop ourselves from repeating the damaging ones. So, if you are in a committed relationship that is dying and you want to save your marriage (and put that spark back) into a whole new, healthy, loving, passionate relationship with the person you are already with you can… unless there was physical abuse.

Change is good, but it does not have to mean divorce?

Here are some of the ways to prevent a divorce:

  1. Commit to saving the marriage. When a couple has children, I ask them to promise that they will stick to the hard work of rebuilding their lost love for at least three months. It would have been great if you had both agreed that divorce would never be an option, but let’s just say that for now no one will be moving out, calling mediators or lawyers.
  2. Review and correct your expectations. So many people go into marriage expecting to ‘change’ their partner – for the better. In reality, they want to change them to being more fitting to their needs and wants, which is not very approving of them, as they are, for who they are. (The marriage started off with a troubled foundation if either of you intended to change the other.) But, what’s done is done. Now you have to take a good long look at yourself and your partner to see who each of you really is. When we understand our partner’s issues, wounds, needs and wants as vital to our healing, and ours to theirs, it makes it a lot easier to accept and honour each other as equals with neither one owing the other the loss of their self. A good exercise for this would be to think back to when you got married and list all of the expectations you had for marriage itself, and another of your mate. Then, ask your mate to do the same, and see how many matches you had for expectations of the marriage, and for each other. Maybe you both fell short. And, maybe one or both of you had expectations that the other could not fulfill (without making changes in who they are) and no you can see that unmet expectations led to more frustration, disappointment, and possibly anger and/or a lack of respect. Now you can start to focus on meeting each others needs and work on both of you healing and growing beyond the wounded selves you began as. If you switch your focus to showing love, behaving lovingly, even when you don’t totally feel so loving, you might be surprised by the result.
  3. Create a ‘vision’ of what you would like your relationship to be like now. Years have passed, life has surely changed since you were dating, so it would be reasonable to come up with a new plan that might better fit your life circumstances now.  Working on this together, and/or with a Certified Vision Board Counselor, will be easier than trying to communicate in words, plus it will be a nice way to discuss your needs and wants quietly.
  4. Get outside help – and that does not mean family or friends!
  5. Get serious about either talking with each other, if you can, or making the time available for each of you to attend your sessions with a coach/counsellor.
  6. Listen to each other. Remember we have two eyes, two ears, and only one mouth for a reason.
  7. Share the truth of your relationship problems with family and close friends - without giving details. Your marital issues are private and personal, but the fact that you are trying to save your marriage will probably be pleasant news to some people and they might even offer to babysit!
  8. Do not allow your discussions to become battles. If/when talking with each other becomes difficult, combative, or insulting, stop talking. Take a time out to cool down. The goal is to save the marriage!
  9. Avoid the ‘toxic’ topics that you find yourselves arguing about constantly. Accept that your conflict style is not working for this, and maybe other issues, and let a professional help you deal with those.
  10. Work at being polite and friendly. A smile usually helps to lighten the mood and spread a welcoming atmosphere in your home for everyone – your children do not deserve to be in a nasty/cold home.
The most important statement that a couple can say to each other, even when they feel it is hopeless, is something like, "Divorce will not be an option for us. We will do whatever it takes to work out our differences - no matter what.” 

Doing small, daily, positive actions go a long way in showing you care. And, honest words of appreciation and acknowledgment will validate your partner’s efforts and help end a feeling of being taken for granted. So, watch your words and your actions! That old rhyme of sticks and stones being able to break our bones but never harm us is not true. They can break hearts and destroy love. 

Before accusing your partner of being at fault for the serious state of your relationship, analyze yourself.  Most of the time we tend to overrate ourselves and underrate others. So, do not hesitate to correct yourself and say sorry for your part – because you both shared in creating the relationship as it is. Whether it was what you did, or did not do, you are both responsible for how it is now. 

And yet, no matter what situation your marriage is in - if you're willing to work on saving your relationship, you'll be amazed at how much better it can be in just a few months!

Saving your marriage is not about begging or pleading with your partner to stay, giving in to their demands, forcing them to accept your way, punishing them for their faults, or trying to get them to understand that everything that went wrong is all their fault - and not yours! It’s about each of you working on your own issues so that the two people in the relationship can start from inner peace and acceptance of themselves. Then, as each of you is able to view themselves, the other, and the relationship in a new light, without the past hurts and disappointments controlling your perspective, you will be able to support each other in figuring out and expressing your needs and wants in the marriage. 

I have truly seen miracles work with troubled marriages that first appeared to be absolutely beyond repair.  

You can strengthen your marriage foundation – and get reconnected with your spouse!

I often tell people that love is falling in love over and over again… with the same person. Once you discover how to fall in love again by renewing the intimacy, restoring the trust and learning how to communicate in ways that show acceptance, respect, connection and appreciation in the ways that you each need it to be… you will finally have the marriage or relationship you actually want. 

Here are a few more ideas to get things started on working on rebuilding your relationship:

·         If body image has affected the intimacy in your relationship, go to the gym to work out together, encouraging each other on personal goals rather than focusing on the flaws.

·         If you have been saying negative things to each other, make a deal to counter that by paying two compliments per negative one from now on; like putting a quarter in a jar for each swear word.

·         Since you probably forgot when you pleased each other, sit down together and share the most memorable ways that your partner demonstrated their love for you over the years.

·         Once a day, express appreciation for 3 things about your partner or something that they did.

Saving your marriage may take a lot of work, but it can reward with the relationship of your dreams!

If you feel comfortable enough to try to get back on the right track of loving each other the right ways follow the “28 Days to Make Your Relationship Sizzle” calendar: 

If you would like to receive your own copy of this calendar, simply email me

Friday, November 19, 2010

Want to Reduce Family Holiday Stress?

Although holiday time means presents and no school for most American kids, it can also be a stressful time - particularly with so many families facing financial hardship, in families where there's a recent loss of a loved one, and with the challenges faced by split or blended families.
Family stress is going up. According to the American Psychological Association's survey, Stress in America 2010, 73% of parents report family responsibilities as a top stress. 32% of parents report their stress is extreme (8 on a 10 scale). Most parents realize they are living with unhealthy stress levels: 69% know it's important to manage their stress, but only 32% say they are doing a very good job of it.
Children know when their parents are having a hard time, and it does affect them: 47% of tweens and 33% of teens feel sad when their parents are stressed; 36% of tweens and 43% of teens worry; and 25% of tweens and 38% of teens feel frustrated when experiencing their parents in such a state.
Now is the perfect time to start turning family stress around. Here are 7 simple holiday stress-reducing strategies that can make a difference - holiday time or any time. 
(1) Visualize a heart-filled holiday.  You can do this one at the dinner table. Have everyone in the family close their eyes, focus on their heart, and imagine what kind of holiday will bring joy into their hearts. Then share your ideas around the table. This helps kids feel listened to, cared for, and included.
(2) Give the gift of calmness.  Ancient wisdom and modern research point to the calming effects and health benefits of slow, deep breathing. Make a regular practice of taking 1 to 5 minutes each day of relaxing "balloon breathing." Breathe in to a count of 3 about 2 inches below the navel, imagining there's a balloon filling up with air, and out to that same slow count. It'll center and rebalance every family member to face the joys and inevitable disappointments of the holiday season.
(3) Offer distress a voice.  If this is your child's first holiday without a loved one - grandpa passed away, or big sister is in Afghanistan - younger family members may feel a deep sense of loss. Or maybe your child is feeling the stress of a recent divorce. Give her paper and markers, and ask her to draw whatever is making her sad or mad. Then ask her what the picture wants to say out loud. Often, putting a face on an emotion and letting it "speak" makes a child feel better - and gives a parent a way to understand what's going on inside.
(4) Sweat is sweet.  Kids (and adults) can get all pent up during holiday time. Surprise little ones by clearing the furniture out of the center of the room, turning on some fun music, and dancing vigorously for 10 minutes. Or bundle up the family and take a wintry walk while playing "I Spy." Exercise releases feel-good chemical and is one of the fastest ways to chase away holiday blahs and instill a sense of togetherness.
(5) Blow out negativity, light up hope.  Create a family ritual of hope. Have two candles for each family member: one lit, one not. Have each imagine what they'd like to let go of - what no longer serves them - and say, "I'm going to toss this out (anger, worry, meanness to my sister) when I blow this candle out." Then light a new candle and share, "I hope to bring in (kindness, faith, cleaning my room) as I light anew." Let go of the old and bring in the new. You can use one candle to symbolize all, or light up your whole home with several.
(6) Be grateful for who you live with. Avoid some of the little and big jealousies that crop up from comparing who has a bigger present or counting how many gifts go to whom by starting early and giving gifts of appreciation - to each family member. Take the whole month of December (or start at Thanksgiving) and every day have each person share something they appreciate about another (big brother allowing younger sister to hang out in his room). Make a running list and post on the fridge or in the family room to remind each other when stresses build that you really do care about and love each other.
(7) Spread the joy around. The time-honored tradition of helping others can shift priorities. If kids or teens are moping around or showing signs of stress, take them to the local soup kitchen to serve meals. Visit a nursing home with hand-made cards or offer a free concert. Helping others gives kids a feeling of more control and a sense of being both useful and appreciated.

About Dr. Charlotte Reznick 
Charlotte Reznick PhD specializes in helping children and adolescents develop the emotional skills necessary for a happy and successful life. She is a licensed educational psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA. Dr. Charlotte is the creator of Imagery For KidsTM: Breakthrough for Learning, Creativity, and Empowerment and is the author/ producer of several therapeutic CDs for children, teens, and parents. An international workshop leader on the healing power of children's imagination, she maintains a private practice in Los Angeles, California. Visit
All Content Copyright ©2010 Charlotte Reznick PhD, All rights reserved.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Change is good, but does it have to mean divorce?

This coaching service is for everyday, healthy people who are experiencing a troubled relationship and want help, without years in therapy! 

I will do my best to help you dramatically improve and save your relationship... 
but, if we absolutely can not, I will help you and yours through a family reconstruction rather than leaving you on your own for a possible family destruction!
Here are some testimonials from a few former clients:

"I began meeting with Sharon Shenker as my relationship with my husband continued to deteriorate. I had many things to sort out with my failing relationship. Made only harder to sort through as I still had many issues I had not properly addressed from my family of origin.

As I told her of my stresses, Sharon didn’t sit idly by and only prod me with questions as a psychological councellor might have. She spoke one-on-one with me as an equal, countered with stories I could relate to, told me what theories I could look into (as the IMAGO theory), and gave me homework to do which ranged from journaling to working on concrete exercises specific to my needs.

I liked the flow of the meetings. Unlike a psychological councellor’s approach where it seems to lead to nowhere but to more one sided talking, Sharon actively guided me through my issues with practical suggestions that I could implement. I much preferred this approach rather than spilling my woes to a silent, head nodding person who just kept telling me to come back. I also felt I was in control of the length of time I chose to see her.

Throughout the last 3 years, I have returned to Sharon with subsequent issues which arose as I worked through the initial issues with which I had come to her. It was not always an uplifting experience to dredge up the painful and harmful habits one has, but it was always worth seeing her.

I highly recommend this lovely, heart warming woman to accompany you on your journey to a more joyous and fulfilling life!

Peace, Helen G."


"I can't tell you enough how glad we are that we found you and worked with you on improving our relationship before the wedding! There's no doubt in our minds that you saved our marriage before it even began. God Bless you."


"Sharon’s approach is very proactive, and for us that was just what the doctor ordered. Her approach is not to dwell on what is wrong but to focus on making things right, by building new skills and practicing new behaviours. With Sharon’s help, we came back from the brink of separation, and are now doing very well. Sharon saved our marriage, and that is not an exaggeration!"


"Just before entering our first meeting with Sharon we were arguing and crying. An hour and a half later we were laughing and hugging each other. It was the first step in a long healing process. Now our relationship is the best it has been in years! Sharon has the unique ability to sort through all difficulties a couple may be suffering from and deal with them one at a time, putting the couple on a steady path to recovery."


"It is the tools I have been given that made the difference. The year I was in therapy gave me an environment to vent, but didn’t provide any tools or solutions... You have given me the tools and techniques with which to deal with my ex-wife, my life, and to solve my own problems effectively!"


"Thank you so so much!! You're like an angel that came into my life this year. I truly appreciate the great work that you are doing with my family. I'm so grateful to you."

"I wish Mommy and Daddy would come learn this stuff too." 8 years old

"There was a marked improvement in his behaviour when he was seeing you. Please try to get the parents to resume with you."  - Elementary School Principal

"Sharon’s approach as a ‘Life Coach’ is truly hands-on and solution oriented."

"I found Divorce Support Plus when I was looking for a support group to help me cope with my children’s reactions and my own feelings towards my recent separation…. I found comfort, understanding, guidance and help. I also found a coach who gave me many tools and practical advice to go through the process of divorcing; I learned to know, trust and love myself better; I learned to let go of the past, live in tune with the present, and look forward to the future... I have changed my outlook on life. Many, Many Thanks."


"Thank you for encouraging me to move forward when I didn’t know how to. Your insight and perspective helped me see things clearly, and your guidance helped me change my life!"


"I hated having to come at first because I thought you were just going to be on her side, too. Everyone from (Youth Protection Service) only saw my frustration and anger, but you’ve really listened to me, and seen my frustration with the system. Now I realize that I feel so much better each time after we speak cause I was able to let go of some of the anger and start my future. Thank you for letting me call you so often. It helped me so much."

As the above testimonials show, some people come to create a change in their life and relationships that involve a divorce... and some come to save their marriage or relationship by dramatically changing for the better!

If your relationship is experiencing difficulties... don't just sit in the 'yuk' of it! Contact me...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Love The Right Ways... or you may need Divorce Support Plus

Love the Right Ways... or you may need Divorce Support Plus

Dear Friends,

As a Family & Relationship Coach for almost ten years now... and as a woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend, ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, and who knows what else... I know that falling in love with someone is easy, yet keeping the love going strong on a daily basis in a long-term relationship, whether that means your marriage, parent-child, or even your sister-sister relationship, is not easy!

It requires great effort, and self-awareness more than other-awareness and skills! Whatever your relationships are at this time in your life, I'm willing to bet that a little help with some personality-based living hints would come in handy.

Imagine filling out a simple multiple choice form and finally 'getting' why s/he thinks and behaves the way they do... and why it annoys you! The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does just that. It not only identifies common areas of difference that can cause mis-communications and conflict, it provides a non-judgmental, neutral language for discussing misunderstandings and irritations, so that we can begin creating a gentler flow in the relationship. After all, more harmony and a better understanding of each other is what we all want in our relationships, isn't it?

Couples, individuals, families, work teams, ...anyone can make constructive use of their differences with the help of an MBTI analysis.

Let me know if you're interested. Or, if you've had it done, let me know what you thought of it - did it help your relationship?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

From Dreadful to Grateful Living

From Dreadful to Grateful Living 
From Dreadful to Grateful Living

“My life is the definition of Murphy’s Law!”

“I love my life, even the challenges that help me grow.”

It’s very common for me, in my work as a coach who specializes in divorce, to hear the first statement above. Naturally, the majority of my clients are the partners that were left and they come to me at a time when they are dealing with the pain of a disappointing, failing or failed long-term relationship… so, the idea of it ending isn’t quite thought of as a growth challenge – yet. In fact, many of the men and women who speak with me see their partners as selfish and disrespecting of their feelings, needs and wants. I hear a great deal of ‘I didn’t see this coming at all’, ‘what about my rights?’, ‘it’s not fair!’ and ‘My life is over now, cause I can’t live without him/her.” So, they are in a state of shock or denial, trying to make sense of what has happened to their life with a shattered sense of self-esteem on top of what feels like an upside-down life that’s making them feel very insecure and unsafe… or, they are already in the rollercoaster stage and they are bouncing between being angry, depressed and bargaining to get their partner back.

One of the first things I have to do is to help them decide whether their relationship can be saved and rebuilt or not. When there is no choice for this partner because the other is certain, and perhaps already moved on to someone else, we begin the work of healing, through acceptance, growth and empowerment. It’s often a matter of helping someone get back or take control of the rest of their life by learning how to change their own attitude, expectations and life skills… so that they can forgive, if possible, trust themselves and move on.

But, one of life’s greatest challenges for so many people is hanging on to a positive attitude. And, believe me; I know how hard it can be! I’ve had quite a few disappointments and surprises in my own life. Honestly, I have always battled myself with a thought and attitude pattern that I’ll call “Dreadful Living.” Yes, as much as I wish I could say that I always ‘walk the talk,’ I am human like you and I too sometimes falter. I always tell my clients that every one of us humans has strengths and weaknesses, skills and dysfunctions, really great learned patterns and some stinkin’ thinkin’ patterns that they can work on. Virginia Satir, the creator of the family therapy model I trained in, is known to have said that 95% of people come from dysfunctional families to some degree, yet I am still waiting to meet someone that belongs to that group of 5% of the population! So, how can you and I work on changing from a ‘Murphy’s Law’ dreadful living attitude to the more pleasant and healthy grateful one?

By the way, this is not just a lesson for people reeling from a divorce! Even if your marriage is fine, developing a grateful attitude can do wonders for you, your family, and for all of your interpersonal relationships! One of the worst dis-eases of attitude is complaining, because when we complain, we aren’t only focusing on what’s wrong with or ruining our mood, we are also making everyone we speak to hear it. So, unfortunately, by complaining we are probably even adding to the problem because then the people we feel closest to (we did choose to confide in them!) want to hide from us and our negative ranting.

According to ‘the secret’ we would be so much better off if we shift our focus to what is ‘right’ and ‘good’ about our life because, aside from events actually just being neutral and therefore it being merely our attitude that determines whether or not something negative has transpired, but we create what happens in our life from our thoughts!

So, I don’t know about you, but the next time I find myself disappointed with how a situation turned out or was handled, I’m going to take some time to learn from the experience. I will begin by determining what I expected to happen so I can see the difference. Then I will try to see what I can actually learn from what did happen. And instead of chancing doing the same thing again, I will figure out what I can do differently in the future if a similar situation arises. I’m also going to try really hard to stretch myself to see what it would be like to be grateful that the situation happened just as it did. I’ll find something to say to myself so that I can feel "spared" from something much worse. You know, like- if I hated having to eat broccoli, I could certainly tell myself that it would be so much worse if I was homeless and starving. Maybe then I would be able to feel genuinely grateful for the broccoli experience and all it brought me - seeing if we can find the gift in each situation for us.

Here’s a little exercise I give my clients to do: Write in a Daily Gratitude Journal (like on Oprah!)
At the end of each day, take some time to review your day and find at least five (5) things that you are glad happened. It can be something simple, like the sun was shining (and ignore how cold the temperature was!) or that it was so nice to receive a smile from your neighbor. Basically, look for all the signs that life isn’t out to get you and only throws you the leftover stuff you hate. It’ll actually help you to stop dwelling on the negative and start looking forward to what just might happen for you tomorrow!

Here’s mine for today already:
I'm feeling very grateful for the arrival of spring, the sun shining through the windows of my cozy home, the companionship of my cat, and my mother who I just finished speaking with. (Thanks for the call, Mom!) And most of all, I'm grateful for the ability to do the work I love, providing Family & Relationship Coaching to others. So, if you know of anyone who could use some great tools, guidance, and support, please refer them to me or my blog.

If you have a hard time finding things to be grateful for, then I strongly encourage you to schedule a coaching session so we can start today to change your life!

Wishing you and yours all the best,

Sharon Shenker, founder,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Breaking Up Is Good To Do

Bio: Not so many years ago, this pleasantly unassuming NDG gal and mother of two was going through her own divorce while working as a pre-school teacher at the daycare centre she owned called Child’s Play. Soon learning just how many parents of the toddlers she was minding were also facing marital challenges, “I started being asked to advise everyone with their own disputes all the time.” Upon closing down Child’s Play after some 10 years of operation to start up an arts centre where she could both teach ceramics and work on her own creations, Sharon once again found herself in the position of unofficial divorce/marriage counsellor to not only her students, but to all the friends of her students who’d heard about her wisdom with respect to these matters and kept coming to her for advice. “I finally just decided that I’d go back to school and get the degrees to do this professionally, which is what I did.” 
To contact her, either call her directly at (514) 804-3585 or go to or

Breaking up is good to do

Divorce and marriage counsellor isn’t afraid to tell someone when to throw in the towel

Divorce and marriage counsellor isn't afraid to tell someone when to throw in the towel
by CHRIS BARRY      (The Mirror, 2008)

Name: Sharon Shenker, Age: 53 (now 55!)

Occupation: Divorce coach/marriage counsellor

Has she ever found herself advising a couple to split because one of them is pretty well a monster whom nobody should ever have to suffer a relationship with? “Yes, unfortunately I’ve had to do this a few times. Once was when a woman admitted to me that she was having an affair with her husband’s best friend and was only staying with him for the money. Morally, I just couldn’t play along with this lie. I told her she had three weeks to make the decision to either stop seeing this other guy and start working on repairing her marriage or tell her husband their marriage was over. Not to tell him about the boyfriend necessarily, but to do one of those two things. That was the only way I could continue working with them. In the end, they split up and were both happy with the decision.”

Which gender is more likely to be getting a little action on the side? “It’s pretty well even. But these days women might be cheating a little more.”

Something she says most people don’t realize: How many men are emotionally abused by their spouses. “It would be nice if there were more resources for them. I see so many of these poor nice guys who’ve been totally torn apart and brought down as a result of these relationships.”

How often are ALL the problems in a relationship just one person’s fault? “Never.”

Is it not family law practitioners and their talent for conspiring to financially rape everyone involved the premier cause of serious grief on the divorce beat? “Those lawyers already hate me, you know. I once had a lawyer come straight up to me saying, ‘Why would I ever send you a client? All you do is take my money away from me.’ So I asked him, ‘Wouldn’t you prefer the reputation of being a lawyer who genuinely cares about the families you represent?’ And this man just looked at me incredulously and said, ‘No, I’d much rather have their money.’”

Musical preferences: James Taylor, James Blunt, Xavier Rudd.

Last book read: The Complete Superfoods Cookbook, by Michael van Straten.

Words of wisdom:
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times—always with the same person.”


But, please comment here since this article is two years old.....

Friday, November 5, 2010

If I could I would tell Mommy and Daddy...

‘If I could, I would tell mommy and daddy…’

Saturday, December 1, 2007
By MensNewsDaily, Glenn Sacks

Sharon Shenker’s My Family Has Two Houses is a book for kids about divorce. It’s jarring, because it reminds us of just how difficult things can be these kids, and how fragile these situations can be.

On the page pictured, it urges kids to “Hang in there…hold on…don’t give up” and asks kids to finish the sentence “If I could, I would tell mommy and daddy…”

I wonder what most kids caught in a divorce would ask?

Perhaps the most touching scene of PBS’s 2006 documentary Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse was when they filmed a little boy caught in his parents divorce. The boy sobbed, “I don’t want to vote.”

I imagine that many kids of divorce would tell their warring parents the same thing.

2 Responses to “‘If I could, I would tell mommy and daddy…’”

amfortas Says:
December 3rd, 2007 at 4:33 am

No-fault divorce, “In the best interests of the children”. Who can fault it?
The children for a start…..

But we can’t let sentimentality stand in the way of women throwing off the oppression of marriage to Men !! ™, can we.

DcFather Says:
December 3rd, 2007 at 7:55 am

Sounds like some psychobabble coming from a shrink/psychologist/social woker looking for an angle to cash in on divorce, like all of the other whores of the divorce court.

Why not approach and testify before Congress and state legislatures about the harmful effects upon children of the current divorce regime, and force them to choose between money for lawyers and hate fodder for feminists, or doing what is right for children and families for a change. Answer: There’s no money in that.

Ouch, that would hurt if my book was not put together for the kids without any psychobabble....on purpose.

Here's a little information on My Family Has Two Houses, a 50+ page interactive 'workshop in a workbook' for school-aged children of divorce.

Divorce is one of the most traumatic life events that children experience, and conflict between parents is so high that they often cause the children to get caught in the middle of their emotionally-charged disputes... Yet, by law, both parents have to give permission for a child to receive professional help in the form of counseling, child or family coaching, and very sadly, many parents don't give that permission.

So, here's what I did - I turned the exercises from the DivorceSmarts Program I created and have been using with children, with great success, for many years into a "workshop in a workbook" for school-aged children to use at home, in school or as part of a an organizations peer support group as a preventive measure to be used now instead of waiting for them to need professional intervention later!

These interactive workbooks get kids exploring some pretty deep emotions without coming across as a boring text book or therapy tool. Each page encourages the child to explore, journal or color pictures that reflect their feelings and thoughts while learning, venting, gaining new insight and skills... and acceptance of their new family situation.

Not just for divorced parents...

For anyone who works with children of divorce!

Professional Endorsements for the book:

"My Family Has Two Houses is a well thought-out workbook for children caught in the maze of confusion during and following a divorce. The compassionate tone, helpful exercises and suggestions, coupled with the great design and visuals, are a perfect resource to help children open up to what they are feeling and needing from the adults in their lives. Every divorcing parent should share this valuable book with their children. Thank you Sharon Shenker!"

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce, Author, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?

"A very helpful and insightful book, filled with fun activities that speak to the universal issues that children face when parents divorce. Ms. Shenker has a wonderful knack for making psychological medicine taste good."

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Psychologist & Social Worker,

To obtain your copy of the book, please go to: 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

After the Split

After the Split

First holidays after parting ways with partner are difficult but manageable, experts say.

Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press, TORONTO

The holidays are widely regarded as a time for family togetherness, to indulge and savour in shared traditions from social gatherings to gift exchanges that are indelibly tied to the festive season.

But for families fragmented by separation or divorce, thoughts of participating in celebrations can be tough to conjure up, particularly for those heading into the first holiday season after parting ways with their significant other.

"We're all accustomed to the big hype about this holiday season, whether it's Hanukkah or Christmas we celebrate,'' said Sharon Shenker, a divorced mother of two and a family and relationship coach with Montreal-based Divorce Support Plus.

"The radio doesn't stop with the cheery music talking about love and happiness and family and good cheer, and when somebody's getting over basically the devastation of their whole life and all their future plans and dreams, it's not an easy time.''

Calgary-based registered psychologist Brian Zelt said any time there is a major holiday or event, the rituals and emotions connected to those dates tend to draw out greater tensions for many people who are splitting up.

"When there's been a lot of tension and conflict that hasn't been resolved during the course of a separation or divorce, I think these are often times -- the dates and points on a calendar -- where some of this conflict renews itself more vigorously because certainly there's a lot of things attached.''

Regardless of how acrimonious the split is, Shenker said the key thing for parents to remember is children deserve to celebrate the holiday -- whether the parents really feel like it or not.

"That's the number one responsibility of being a parent: to know how to hide your own grief and anger and be there for your kids in the way that they need you to be. They're counting on you.''

But it's not easy, particularly when a couple who once lived under one roof and shared in family festivities must now navigate the tricky territory of marking the time separately with their children.

Zelt said it's important for parents to co-ordinate schedules in advance, engaging in discussion not only about dates in question but some of the activities that are going to be occurring to prevent overlap.

He also suggests if parents are purchasing presents separately they should share what they plan on buying to avoid duplication.

Zelt said he has heard stories of one-upmanship surrounding the holidays or gifts, and some parents choosing not to do particular activities or events because that's a reminder of the other parent. There are also instances where parents purchase extravagant or lavish gifts to compensate for their absence.

Zelt said it's important to not get into the game of trying to "outlove'' your children more than the other parent.

"They need to see balance, particularly from one consistent or stable parent figure in this and realize their love isn't something that can be purchased or bought, and I think early on it's a challenge because kids can't differentiate that,'' he said.

"I think when children are older and they begin to realize there's a flood of activity around certain dates . . . they begin to establish some of those connections in their head themselves that, 'Hey, wait a minute: why do I get something fantastic on one day and then not see them and not have contact for the other 360 days a year.' ''

Glenn Cheriton, executive director of the Ottawa-based Canadian Council for Co-Parenting, who moderates a monthly support group for separated and divorced parents, said another issue that can arise surrounding gifts is when they're used as emotional gameplay.

"To my mind, I have less of a problem with parents competing as to see who can actually give the best gift to the child and more concerned about the emotional content of certainly denying a gift to a child or taking a gift that is supposed to be for a child and then trashing it or sending it back,'' he said.

"That I think is one of those things that is really quite destructive, and that's certainly something that hurts and that is designed to hurt.''

The holidays can be especially tough for the parent who is solo for the first time without their kids.

Shenker, whose children are now 28 and 30, divorced when they were just two and four years old. She said the hardest part of the holidays, or any time the kids were with their dad, was figuring out what to do with herself.

For her, readjusting to single life meant going to a restaurant with a book, taking off her watch and staying there for at least 40 minutes on her own.

Despite how tough it can be, spending time on your own with your kids can present a silver lining: Shenker said it offers the opportunity to create new traditions.
Maybe it's renting a bunch of movies and cosying up under the covers with popcorn, she said. Or perhaps one parent loved the idea of carolling, but their partner didn't. Now that's something they can share with their kids, she added.

"It's up to each parent to talk to their child and decide what feels right for them.''

Update on this article:
My daughters are now 30 and almost 32. How time flies!
To top it off, I not only have a son-in-law, but I am also a grandmother!
You can see some pictures of my family on my facebook page.!/profile.php?id=769419182

Getting a Relationship Tune-Up Before the Gasket Blows

AMY WILLARD CROSS. Globe and Mail, August 23, 2007 (via @globeandmail)

Vancouver couple Grace and Rob recently spent 24 hours improving their relationship.
Their coupledom had not been nicked by infidelity. They weren't fighting so dirty that the bad words wouldn't wash off. They weren't teetering on divorce - indeed, they weren't even married yet.

But it was not as good as it gets for this dating couple, so Rob's friend recommended couples coaching.

"You don't know what kind of baggage you're bringing into a new relationship until you get into one," says Rob.

About to move in together, Grace and Rob (who asked that their real names not be used) are part of a growing trend toward relationship maintenance - often called marriage enhancement or enrichment.

"I learned not only to check myself and communicate in a different way, but I became aware of his feelings," says Grace. "I did a complete 360, and was really ashamed and embarrassed."

Dealing with problems before it's too late is starting to catch on.
Provincial marriage and family therapy associations have started offering free "marriage checkups" with a therapist so couples can assess their relationship's health.

The practice has gained enough traction that in the spring of 2006, the Canadian Forces initiated Basic Relationship Training (BRT) at all of its bases. Many branches of the U.S. military do the same.

"As the profession of marriage and family therapy grew, there was a recognition of the need to do [preventive] stuff," says Annette Dekker, president of the Ontario Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Most people are pushed to seek a marriage therapist because they are having big problems. Typically, according to Ms. Dekker, couples wait six years to call a therapist after realizing that their "us" is not perfectly healthy.

Meanwhile, animosity and bitterness build up like hard-water scale on pipes. "Often, by that time, it's too late," says Ms. Dekker.

But among therapists and counsellors who advertise enrichment or enhancement, some estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of clients come to improve a relationship that does not seem problematic.

Couples are also attending classes, programs and retreats such as Getting the Love You Want, the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) or the Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS) course.

The Canadian forces launched relationship training because "we wanted to be very cutting-edge and proactive," says Erika Lefebvre, a psychologist with the program Strengthening the Forces.

Ms. Lefebvre says her program is about building skills, not spill-your-guts counselling.

Even if couples aren't being deployed, she says, "I think anybody could benefit from this - a relationship requires regular maintenance."

Toronto therapist Sonya Gotziaman says relationship training makes sense because "our main role models are our parents and TV and movies, and I don't know which is scarier."

Rob and Grace say counsellor duo Michael and Janice Inch of Vancouver helped them to identify the triggers that make them react, then gave them tools to manage them. "We need to learn not to react," says Rob. "It's reactive behaviour that digs a hole for us."

Montreal's Sharon Shenker says many of her clients are seeking relationship enhancement and are attracted by her use of the Myers-Briggs personality test, which is commonly employed in corporate settings.

Knowing their personality types helps couples learn, understand and manage their differences, Ms. Shenker says.

Couples she has helped through divorce will sometimes return with a new spouse to head off problems before they begin, she adds.

Sometimes, life transitions push couples to get a little fortification.

Leah MacInnes, a Victoria-based marriage and family therapist, has had many clients who are dealing with a second marriage, a baby or an empty nest.

"Life transitions are difficult, and difficult times pull us apart or bring us together," Ms. MacInnes says. Seeing a therapist for preventive sessions can also be a money-saver: it will require fewer appointments and come nowhere near the cost of a divorce, she says.

Ms. MacInnes and her husband got a taste of her own medicine when they sought counselling during a stressful period.

"I'm a therapist, I know how to communicate, but sometimes there are things I can't see," she says. "Having a neutral party there to say 'What did you mean? What's your reaction?' helps to get you out of rut."