I have been interested in family issues and self-help for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I preferred to read about psychology personal growth. My favorite things to talk about are people and their lives. Almost 2 years ago, I started a daily blog about my own life journeys. It was a very personal blog, and I still write posts from time to time, as new things come up for me. It is my continuous process of discovering and rediscovering who I am, and how I can better understand and relate to the world around me. But now I am starting a new column, and this is my first post. In this post I’d like to introduce myself and tell you why I am starting this.
In this column I plan to use my background as a certified child & family investigator, and my personal experience of raising 3 children, to help guide other people in finding harmony in their families. I plan to deal with many common family issues along the way. I have several sources of inspiration and experience with which to base these posts.
Most relevant is probably my work as a child and family investigator. Different states have different names for this position, such as a special advocate or children’s advocate. The position involves being the eyes and ears of the courts in high-conflict custody situations. I would meet with each parent, in and out of their homes, and see them with and without their children. If needed, I would consult teachers, therapists, and other people who were involved in the children’s lives. If appropriate I would talk to the children too.
After this, I would draft a report for the judge, with my recommendations as to parenting time. In most cases, the parents agreed to my recommendations without needing to go back to court. It was very valuable in these cases to be able to come in with an objective perspective, and always keep the needs of the children as the top concern. I would emphasize to the parents how important it was to treat the other parent with respect and kindness, especially around the children. It was very rewarding to be able to bring people from complete opposition and hostility to working together, harmoniously, in the best interests of their children.
In addition to my professional experience, growing up, my mother also taught me a lot about dealing with family stress and conflict. My mother is a family law attorney, and her focus has always been on the innocent children in her cases. She taught me from a young age how important it was to always go over and above to make things easy on the children in any kind of a parental conflict or separation. I watched over and over as she made the best of messy situations. She truly did the work because she wanted to help children, and I heard so many stories of how she counseled her clients to behave more rationally and stop being so angry.
One of my favorite things my mother taught me was that you should never bad mouth your children’s other parent, because your children are half of that person. By hating and cursing the other parent, you make them feel like there is something deeply wrong with them, and make them wonder if you hate them too. I believe that the values and emphasis my mother placed on family harmony, and the core idea of always placing children’s best interests first was a vital part of my background in easing family stress and conflict.
Finally, I have no shortage of experiences in my personal life to draw upon as well. I have had 3 children of my own, and have been blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. Also, I currently have 2 living children, one of whom has a severe disability. Her disability was a result of a car accident, which also took her 3-year-old brother’s life. Their father and I worked hard to pick up the pieces and not become another statistic of divorce. Unfortunately, 1 more child, and less than 2 years later, my husband did decide to leave the family. This was almost 2 years ago, and we are still in the divorce process.
All of my experiences personally and professionally helped me to deal with these situations, but they also taught me that no one is immune to having bad things happen to them, no matter what kind of childhood or training they have, or how prepared they thing they are to avoid these things.
Today my family consists of myself and my two young daughters. I have a long-term boyfriend, and he has 50/50 custody of his 11-year-old daughter. She is a very creative and energetic young girl, and I have learned a lot interacting with her, and facilitating her interactions with my young daughters. This, along with having been a step-child, and having step-parents and step-brothers growing up, has taught me a lot about blended family dynamics.
And finally, when I had my first child, and then after my husband left our family, I have experienced being a single mother. I also grew up in a single-parent household. When my son was first born, my husband initially denied paternity and demanded a paternity test. This was a year-long process in which he was not around, and never even met his own son. I raised him on my own for his first 18-months of life. After that, we somehow found family harmony, and decided to have more children. Our marriage had its ups and downs like all marriages, and mostly I was very happy. I love being a part of a family, and I loved having children and being a stay-at-home mom.
All of my varied life experiences have made me the person I am today. My life has certainly not always been what I envisioned. But throughout it all, I have kept my chin up, focused on gratitude for what I do have, and continued to walk forward. I have constantly done my best to create the best life and family situation for myself and others along the way.
Now, I want to put some of these experiences into this new blog, and continue to help myself and others. None of us ever figure everything out. But by having the willingness to keep an open mind, examining our own failings and shortcomings, and focusing on acceptance and action steps, you can always bring about good results.
No situation is ever final, and you always have a choice in how you live your own life. I welcome your comments and suggestions along the way, and if you have specific topic you would like for me to blog on, simply leave it in the comments below. Nice to virtually meet everyone!
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