Is this the first Christmas you and your kids are celebrating since the divorce or the separation?
Well, let's talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed
marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live
happier lives. I lead two organizations here in Woodland Hills, California. First is the group
private practice teen therapy center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, child and teen
counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I answer your
parenting questions here on Facebook Live. Today is no exception. It's the last one of 2020.
We're taking next week off, but let's jump into today's holiday -focused question. I saw your
post this weekend about how hard the holidays can be for kids and families going through separations.
I got divorced this year. It got a little ugly, and I won't be spending any time around my ex this
holiday. It will be the first time where we won't all
be together as a family for Christmas. My kids will spend Christmas Eve with their father, and
then be with me on Christmas Day. We haven't talked about it explicitly, but I can sense that
they're feeling weird and nervous about it. I would love for them to see a therapist, but I just
don't have the budget for that. Can you give me any insight about how I can talk to them about it,
or anything I can do to make them feel a little better? Yes, thank you for your question. There's
a couple big issues around this. First, I'm gonna take the second part later on about not having
the budget for therapy. I totally get that. Budgets, especially right now with quarantine,
it's tough. There are a lot of resources out there that are low cost. There are many, like out
here in the San Fernando Valley and LA, there are many community centers that are offering sliding
scale, affordable therapy. You know, our nonprofit, Challenging Counseling, is one of many
in the area that can work with you on price.
There are some agencies that offer free therapy. It's hard to find those, it's hard to get in,
because usually there's a long waiting list, but there are some out there. If you can find someone
on your insurance panel, that's great too, but I know that can be a challenge as well. But don't
let that get in the way. Do your research, go online, find places that offer affordable therapy
in your area, and get help. because it could be that the investment, that little investment
now, could pay big dividends down the line. A divorce is a really big thing for a family to go through.
And it's a really big thing for kids to hold that burden on their shoulders if they're not talking
about it, not expressing it, not finding a way to process it and resolve it. And also with you,
you're the parent. You're the one, you're the one they're all leaning on. If you're not taking
care of yourself, it's really hard to take care of your kids. So, transitioning to you and how
you help your kids, make sure that
you're grounded. Make sure that you are doing your self -care. Make sure you're getting enough
sleep, you're eating healthy foods, getting a moderate amount of exercise, having your own
self -care. Make sure you have people you can lean on for support, whether that's a sibling,
a friend, a parent, a therapist, a clergy member, whatever that is. Make sure that you are safe
and secure so you can be that strong rock for your kids. Now, how do you help your kids deal with
something like this? That's a really varied question. It depends on the age of your kids, your
connection with your kids, what they understand, what they're going through. The big picture
with this, I would say, is there's not any one thing to do. Or say, there's no magic wand, there's
no magic words you can say, but be present for your kids. Stay tuned and connected with your kids.
Make sure that you are being present for them. Make sure that they feel safe and secure with you.
How do you do that? by, first of all, trying
to enjoy the holidays yourself. Be the emotional leader. Creating new traditions or carrying
on old traditions that they want to have to continue. And let them have a voice. Let them talk
about that. Let them be a part of that. And also, if this is a toxic divorce, you and your ex can't
have any contact. I understand that. Sometimes that is the best option of a series of bad options.
But it may be the best option. and if that's the case, make sure that you're not in some way exposing
your kids to the conflict, including them in the conflict, letting them overhear the conflict,
keep them out of the conflict as much as you can. So no matter what your spouse is doing, no matter
how your spouse is crossing boundaries, you stay firm to your dignity and your integrity and
don't follow suit. Your kids will eventually see it, even if they don't see it in the beginning.
Oftentimes, the parent who's taking the high road gets all the mud slung at them and the kids
sling the mud at you because you're
the strong parent. Because unconsciously they know that you're the parent who's not going
to abandon them. The other parent who's crossing the boundaries is the unpredictable parent
and they still feel like they need that parent's love so they will side with that parent for a
little while and sling the mud at you. But in the long run if you stay true to who you are and you
don't sling mud at the other parent and you don't try to dissuade them from liking that parent
you don't jump into that battle with your other parent your kids are gonna see it but it may take
some time and I wish I had a better answer for you for that it's just an ugly situation when one
parent goes to the mud it's easy to follow look at politics how easy it is for people to go jump
into the mud and buy into the mud slinging in politics that same concept happens in divorces
with our with parents so make Make sure that you are treating the other person with respect.
Make sure you're not bad -mouthing them. Don't pressure
your kids to talk about what's going on in the house. And what you're doing is you're creating
a safe place in your house so they can feel comfortable being with you and enjoying the holidays
and taking a more active role. There's again, there's no magic wand that's going to make them
feel comfortable. They're just going to have to go through this. Again, if you can help them
find a therapist, a low -cost therapist at a non -profit agency such as Challenging Counseling.
Others in this area of Santa Fe Valley are in CINO the Pepperdine and CINO campus has a Counseling
Center. There is Child and Family Guidance Center. There's CalFam. There's a bunch of them.
If you do a quick search on any kind of search engine you'll find them. Give us a call. We'll help
you find some also but don't let money get in the way if you can afford something a little bit if
you will need to get on a Waiting list get on a waiting list if it's free therapy for like the Simi
Valley Free clinic how offers free therapy,
but there's a waiting list obviously because it's free But you may want to check these out Also
since we're in quarantine you have all if you're in California you have all of California to
you So since a lot of places are doing teletherapy You don't just stick in the same city you're
in you can find anything within that state to work with. Again, as all our licenses are bound
by the state of California, so if we're working with a client, that client needs to be in California
as well. It's a big topic. Get support. I implore you, I encourage you, find support. There is
a therapist for every budget out there. Just do your homework, reach out to people. Other people
will find resources for you if you reach out and ask for help. We do it all the time. Thank you for
your question. I hope you guys all have a wonderful holiday, a wonderful new year. I have best
wishes to you in your 2021. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child
and Teen Counseling. We'll see you in
a couple weeks in 2021. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and have a great time guys, bye -bye.
The Holidays can be hard for kids after a divorce. Is there a way you can you support them so they’ll enjoy the holidays even when they’re missing the “way it used to be?”
“I saw your post this weekend about how hard the holidays can be for kids in families going through separations. I got divorced this year. It got a little ugly and I won’t be spending any time around my ex this holiday. It will be the first time where we won’t all be together as a family for Christmas. My kids will spend Christmas Eve with their father, and then be with me on Christmas Day. We haven’t talked about it explicitly, but I can sense that they’re feeling weird and nervous about it. I would love for them to see a therapist but I just don’t have the budget for that. Can you give me any insight about how I can talk to them about it, or anything I can do to make them feel a little better?”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.