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Archive for July, 2012

We all get angry when we believe we are being wronged, misunderstood or unjustly accused. It’s a natural reaction to circumstances that put us on the defensive. But when we cannot identify or manage our anger, it can take over our lives and affect the well-being of those close to us. When our anger is focused on our relationship partners or a divorcing spouse, it can reach dangerous levels for everyone involved.

Anger is a feeling that alerts us that something is wrong. What we fail to understand is that we, as human beings, always have choices regarding how we act regarding those feelings. Acting before thinking can lead to mismanaged anger. Once we have reacted to anger, we have allowed our feelings to control us. This can lead to actions and behaviors we never would have taken if we were making rational choices. Knowing how to manage anger can help us set limits and determine comfortable boundaries in our relationships – including co-parenting after a divorce.

While anger is a natural emotion, when faced with a challenging situation, it can also create the most destructive consequences. Improperly expressed anger can produce difficulties with family, friends, co-workers and colleagues. Left uncontrolled, it often results in encounters with law enforcement and the judicial system.

If managing anger has been a challenge, it is important to recognize signs to watch out for in our behavior and identify “red flag” warnings in advance before we explode out of control. With intention and practice, we can learn healthier ways of expressing anger, frustration and other difficult feelings which will make for more peaceful and rewarding life experiences.

Identifying Anger Problems:

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves which will identify whether we have an anger management problem:

  • Do I lose my temper easily and quickly? Do small things set me off such as getting stuck in traffic, children running around the house or spilling my coffee? Do I have a low tolerance for frustration? Is it difficult for me to take things in stride?
  • Do I show inconsistent behavior that is intimidating to others? Is my behavior so unpredictable that one minute I’m feeling good — and the next I become explosive?
  • Are family and friends afraid of me? Do they often tell me to calm down? Do people say they “walk on egg shells” around me? Do they avoid giving me bad news for fear of my reaction?
  • Have I hurt people close to me because of my anger? Have I lost friends, family or even my job as a consequence of my outbursts? Do people distance themselves from being close to me?
  • Have I tried to control my anger, but failed? Am I unable to control how I react to things, even though I have tried several different approaches?
  • Do I find myself explaining or justifying my aggressive behavior to others? Do I usually blame others for enticing or provoking me to anger?
  • Is it difficult to express myself without cursing, swearing and blaming? Is my communication with others often offensive and vulgar? Am I defensive and usually believe the problem “isn’t me — it’s them”?
  • Does anger cause me to become destructive? Do I frequently break things or become violent towards others? Do I pound on the table, punch a door or throw things to make a point? Have I hit, bit, pushed or forcibly held my partner because of my rage?
  • Does my anger spiral out of control? Once I get angry, is it difficult for me to de-escalate? Does it seem to take over and take a while before I am able to settle down?
  • Do I have difficulties with authority figures? Do I dislike people telling me what to do and often get into confrontations? Do I purposefully refuse to complete assignments or follow directions, as a sign of rebellion?
  • Do I frequently argue at home? Is it difficult for me to have a conversation without getting angry? Do I get upset when others disagree with me? Do I believe others have the power to make me feel stupid or inadequate?
  • Is my body language intense? Do I communicate with clenched fists, a tightened jaw and a glaring stare?

These are all signs of anger management issues that need to be addressed. Fortunately there are tools, skills and strategies we can use to change our state of mind, perceive circumstances differently, catch ourselves before our anger explodes, harness our anger in more productive directions and create more inner peace in our lives. Learning these skills will not only make our life more satisfying, it will improve  our relationships with everyone in our world, bringing us more credibility and respect from others.

Controlling our anger will transform life for the better – and give us the tools to respond more effectively to challenging situations, especially in our personal relationships. We can still get our needs met, but without the struggle, turmoil and negative consequences.

Anger Management courses are available in many communities, as well as online.  An internet search using the terms Anger Management and your city should deliver numerous results. Making the investment in ourselves will reap rewards that will pay off for a lifetime!

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT and Amy Sherman, LMHC, are co-authors of an 8-hour and 12-hour online Anger Management Course focused on divorce and relationship issues. The content includes insights, advice, strategies, questions, videos, quizzes and more, all designed to help men or women create better alternatives in their lives. The courses are also approved for court-mandated Anger Management programs for divorce cases. Visit: www.onlineparentingprograms.com to learn more.

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Although it is supposed to be fun, dating can be full of difficulties, especially for a single parent. When dating as a single parent, not only do you want to find a potential love match that is perfect for you, but you also want to find a potential love match that is accepting of your child. Once you have found the perfect mate who cares for both you and your child, your child may not be as accepting of your lover, though, and this can present another problem. If you find yourself dealing with this issue and you are looking for ways to balance your relationships, here are 5 ways you can keep the peace when your child doesn’t like your significant other.

1. Find Common Ground. If your child doesn’t seem to like your new significant other, chances are it has nothing to do with your lover but rather it has more to do with the fact that your lover isn’t your child’s biological parent. If you want your child to be more accepting of your significant other, encourage your lover to find something he or she has in common with your child. Perhaps it’s a love of baseball or a certain movie. Whatever it is, encourage bonding between your lover and child over this particular common like.

2. Don’t Choose Sides. If your significant other and your child seem to be forcing you to choose sides, do not feel pressured to do so. Let both your child and your lover know that you love them both and work together towards a compromise on the situation.

3. Don’t Force The Relationship. Although you want your child to build a healthy relationship with your significant other, try not to force the relationship. By forcing the relationship, your child may try to push back by liking that person even less. Instead, let the relationship between your child and significant other flourish at its own pace.

4. Keep The Peace With Your Ex. If you want your child to be more accepting of your significant other, it helps if you and your lover have a good relationship with your child’s other parent. When your child sees that you are all friends, it may help your child become more accepting of your significant other.

5. Talk To Your Child. If your child doesn’t like your significant other, encourage him or her to talk to you about the reasons why. Explain to your child that this person is not here to take the place of his or her mom or dad. If you encourage your child to talk to you about the issues, it may bring peace to the situation.

Dating can be difficult on its own, but dating as a single parent presents its own special problems. If you have dated and found that special someone you want to spend time with but your child doesn’t like your new significant other, there are ways you can help keep the peace in your household. If you want to have good relationships with both your child and your significant other, the above listed 5 tips will help you to keep the peace when your child does not like your new lover.

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Christa loves spending time with her family, morning runs, and is a regular contributor for seniordating.org

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I applaud parents who are striving to maintain their child-centered divorce even when they’ve started dating again. It’s not always the easiest path, but it certainly is the most rewarding in the long-term for your children. It involves understanding and respecting your children’s needs whenever you are making decisions about your own life.  As parents move beyond divorce and start thinking about the prospect of finding new relationships, there is much to take into account.

Here are some common questions I am asked and the advice I suggest.

Is it ok to date when you’re separated, or should you wait until you are legally divorced?

It’s always better to take some time to prepare yourself before starting to date – legally divorced or not. Are you feeling clear and complete regarding your divorce? Are you emotionally comfortable and ready to move on? Did you learn the lessons you need to learn so you don’t repeat past mistakes? Dating won’t resolve anger, conflicts and insecurities, so do the inner work first before getting out into the dating world – regardless of how long it takes.

How long should you wait before introducing your “dates” to your children?

Take your time and get to know your new partner very well before introducing them to your child of any age. Children are emotionally vulnerable when new adults enter their lives, especially when they’re dating Mom or Dad. Don’t create a revolving door of “new friends” for your children to meet. Wait until you know this is a very special friend worthy of their attention. And then take it very slowly.

Make sure you remind your children that no one will ever replace their “real” Mom or Dad (unless you are justified in doing so). The transitions are a lot smoother when the new “friend” doesn’t come across as a new “parent.”

On holidays, should you make an effort to try to spend time with your ex, to create a family-holiday atmosphere for your child?

In most cases the more time Mom and Dad spend “family style” with the children, the happier the kids are. If you can include your former spouse in holiday activities – even if for only a period of time – your children will appreciate that. You are modeling behavior your kids will emulate in their own lives. Give your children the gift of peace and harmony when you and your ex are together – and make it as often as possible!

Special events, graduations, birthdays and holidays can be so much more enjoyable when the kids don’t have to choose between the parents they love – and those parents behave like mature adults in their presence.

If you had a good relationship with your ex’s family, should you try to stay in touch?

You are only divorcing your former spouse, not your children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The more you can continue life routines as close to normal, the easier the transition for your children. Make every effort to maintain relationships with extended family on both sides. Your children will appreciate it and thank you! So will Grandma and Granddad.

How long does it take after you are divorced to start considering getting remarried?

Second marriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages. That’s because too many people don’t learn from their experiences and errors. Take your time in exploring the lessons and “gifts” from your divorce. See a counselor or join a support group for outside insights. Enjoy the dating process. When you feel you’ve sincerely let go of the baggage from the past you can then consider starting another new chapter in your life.

It’s the 21st Century, do you really need to be in a committed relationship to have sex?

In our culture sex is entwined with deep emotions, self-respect and security issues. Casual sex can work for a period of time, but usually not for both parties simultaneously. A committed relationship is based on trust, surrender, respect, safety, responsibility and maturity. These qualities make sex more satisfying and meaningful. People with high self-esteem usually prefer the emotional fulfillment of sex in a committed relationship. If you don’t, it’s worth spending time asking yourself why. You may discover some insights worth exploring more deeply.

Do you consider the children of the person you are dating as baggage, and does that necessarily have a negative connotation?

Anyone who considers their date’s children as baggage should never date anyone with children. Children deserve better than to be considered an annoyance to put up with. If you’re a parent, don’t ever date someone who does not love and enjoy your children. The relationship will only deteriorate and you never want to have to choose between your children and your love partner. If you feel burdened by your children, seek counseling to help work through this challenge. Children are sensitive. When they pick up on your feelings it will create emotional pain and insecurity that no child deserves.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator, divorce coach and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For free articles, ezine and other valuable resources on creating a child-centered divorce, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

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