Welcome to NFRC Online

Welcome to the National Family Resiliency Center’s new online community! As a nonprofit mental health center (formerly the Children of Separation and Divorce Center, Inc.), we help children and parents through family transitions. We’re very excited to be able to enhance the support we provide to our online “family.”

Having worked with more than 23,000 family members over the past 24 years, we have a vast amount of experience and knowledge. We have the gift of our peer counselors - children, teens and adults who have also been through family transitions and want to give back and volunteer their time to reach out to others. You’ll meet some of them as our online neighborhood unfolds.

Our center and staff are dedicated to helping families experience a healthy family transition so that children can remain “kids” and not be “children of divorce,” and that you as adults can move forward with your lives without rage, anger, guilt and self/other deprecation.

We'd also like to tell you more about another online resource: Family Connex, a self-paced parent planning program customized for your blended family. Visit www.familyconnex.org for details, and we'll be talking more about this important resource in future blog entries and podcasts.

We sincerely hope that our new online connection will not only be valuable to you but will create new connections with many others out there like you who deserve, welcome and benefit from support.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Contribute to the Family Therapy Fund

Through counseling and co-parenting courses, NFRC has an amazing impact on families. But NFRC has very limited funding to provide reduced-fee therapy for individual and family therapy. Any contribution you make will go toward making NFRC's services more affordable to families in financial need. For example, a $100 contribution will pay for five 1-and-a-half hour group therapy sessions. Every dollar makes a difference in people's lives. Donate directly with your credit card at the NFRC website, or mail your contribution to NFRC, 2000 Century Plaza - 121, Columbia, MD 21044.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NFRC Offers Resource for Hispanic Families

NFRC has posted a new podcast that describes, in both Spanish and English, an important resource for Hispanic families. The podcast features Maria Casasco and Carlos Camino, facilitators for a co-parenting seminar offered to Spanish-speaking parents who are going through a divorce, separation or other transition. Listen to the podcast.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NFRC Executive Director Testifies Before Maryland Access to Justice Commission

NFRC Executive Director Risa Garon testified before the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, a group of leaders and stake-holders from the Maryland Judiciary and its many justice system partners. 

In her testimony, Risa shared her personal and professional experiences in the justice system, advocated for change, and made recommendations for the future.

She recommended early intervention of a multidisciplinary team working with families to assess what a particular family needs. "All of the stake-holders need to be well-versed in child development," said Risa. "Parent plans need to be individualized, needs-based and age-appropriate."

For more details about Risa's testimony, visit NFRC's article about the testimony.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Join NFRC For A Beaujolais Nouveau Benefit Luncheon

Join us on Nov. 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for a fabulous luncheon and the unveiling of the first wine of the season. The location is Tersiguel's Restaurant, 8293 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The donation is $75 and will help the National Family Resiliency Center continue to offer counseling and educational services to children and families on a sliding fee basis. For more information, call 410-740-9553 or 301-384-0079.

Friday, August 7, 2009

NFRC Executive Director Offers Advice for Stars of 'Jon and Kate Plus 8'

Entertainment reporters recently broke the news that Kate Gosselin - co-star of the popular reality show 'Jon and Kate Plus 8' - is moving to Rockville without Jon. As the couple goes through a very public divorce, National Family Resiliency Center Executive Director Risa Garon shared advice via the Baltimore Sun's "Charm City Moms" blog. Here's the link:

Jon and Kate might want to consider clicking on Family Connex to help them craft a child-focused parent plan that is then attached to their legal document.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NFRC Executive Director Named "Woman of Distinction"

Risa Garon, the executive director of the National Family Resiliency Center, was named the 2009 "Woman of Distinction" by the Business Women's Network of Howard County, Maryland. Congratulations, Risa!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Come Run 5 for Families

Join us for a 5K race and 1-mile fun walk on Saturday, June 13 at Meadowbrook Park in Ellicott City. Runners of all abilities can help boost the National Family Resiliency Center by coming out and racing on an accurately measured, scenic course. Bring your family because there's something for all ages, including free facepainting and crafts for the kids all morning. The 5K begins at 8:15 a.m. and the one-mile walk starts at 8:30. To register, visit the NFRC home page at www.nfrchelp.org, or call NFRC at 410-740-9553. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Preparing for a Separation During Tough Financial Times

While you may want to separate, you may be forced to "sit tight" because, like millions of other people, you are under financial stress during these tough economic times. I want to tell you about an online resource called "Family Connex" that can help you and your partner move forward - while still in the same home - to prepare for a separation by "practicing" co-parent communication and planning how you will each meet your children's developmental needs.

Family Connex helps you build a tentative parent agreement and implement parts of it that you can. For example, as co-parents you might arrange a night for each parent to have special time with the kids while the other parent leaves the home or has a break in the home. This can help you right now because it can reduce your adult tension by turning the focus away from your adult relationship toward thinking about the present and future well-being of your children. Family Connex gives you guidelines on what you need to discuss and address, and it can guide you toward dividing time you will each spend with your children.

Meanwhile, understand how your tension affects your children:

  • Kids are like sponges; they absorb tensions and begin to sense when there are problems betwen parents. Many of their friends or classmates may have gone through a transition. They may be wondering about their own family: "Will my mom and dad get divorced?"
  • If parents are arguing and the children are aware of it, they can become hyper-vigilant in not saying or doing anything that would exacerbate the tension. 
  • Kids may feel stuck in the middle. They may worry about a parent, be angry at a parent, or feel badly when they are told they are "just like your mother or father."

The Family Connex program can help you prepare for a separation now even though the separation may occur down the road. You'll begin working on a parenting plan that you will develop and implement once you divorce.

Be honest with your children in an age-appropriate way. Do not give your children adult details but indicate that there are problems between their parents if they ask. Reassure your children that you love them and will be there for them. Assure them that anything that occurs between their parents is not their fault.

Put your marital or adult issues aside and begin to communicate as co-parents. This is a gift you give to children and yourselves as loving, responsible parents. If you want to save money and avoid hurting your children, Family Connex will guide you and your partner in what you need to discuss with regard to your children.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Helping Children and Teens to Grieve

For most parents experiencing a family change such as separation, divorce or the disengagement of an adult relationship with children, seeing their children in emotional pain as a result of such a change is very difficult. It is hard to reconcile that parents may have made a decision that is good for them but hurtful to their children. Grief is a process that we all experience when we lose something such a person, situation or event.

To grieve means to mourn the losses of what we once had:
  • The picture of the family we thought we would have forever
  • Financial security
  • Seeing children and children seeing their parents every day
  • Family traditions
  • The family home
  • Extended family and friends
  • Feeing safe and protected by parents
Children, like adults, experience a roller coaster of emotions: profound sadness, anger, confusion, worries, fear, relief, denial. How do we help children cope with grief and come out of it feeling a sense of hope?

Children are egocentric; explain what changes are about to take place or have taken place in language they can understand.

Teach children to express their feelings and allow them to in age appropriate ways, through stories, puppet shows, books, music

Reassure children that their lives will remain as stable and secure for them as possible: they can bring their favorite blanket and toys from one home to the other

Allow children access via phone and or email when away from one parent

Refrain from badmouthing other parent, allow child and parent to have a close relationship

Permit children to recollect memories from the past; it validates children’s feelings

Help children through transitions from one home to another: quiet times in rooms, taking a walk together

Accept that you may be at one point in the grief process, your child another

You and your child could also benefit by journeying through NFRC’s Family Connex, a parenting plan that helps families at their own pace. Visit www.familyconnex.org for more information.

Our Clients’ Best Ideas on Surviving and Thriving

A mom recently came in for her appointment and said, “ I finally got to take a shower.” A dad came in and said, “I should own a taxi company.” Life in the fast lane of being a single parent is not easy. How do parents survive and thrive? Here are some tips our clients have taught us:
  • Prioritize and make your children number-one; the house will always be there. Your flowers may not bloom but your children will if they are treated as number-one.
  • Ask for help with your children; you can’t do it alone!
  • Build a network of support among friends, colleagues and family. Some may provide you with emotional support, others may help you with car pools, while others may provide some childcare.
  • Join a group with others experiencing a family transition. You learn, you share, and you grow in a safe, confidential environment.
  • Take a co-parent education course to help you better understand how to help yourselves and your children and to help you learn how to co-parent in constructive ways.
  • Allow your children to love you and their other parent; this will foster healthy self-esteem for your children.
  • Give yourself a break each day, whether it is a 5-minute meditation, brisk walk, talk with your best friend—you deserve a break!
  • One of the best ways to survive and thrive is to create a parenting plan. NRFC’s online tool, found at www.familyconnex.org can help.