Sabra Law Group Interview with Therapist Amy Weber
In this latest “Ask the Experts” blog series with Sabra Law Group, the law firm interviews New York based experts in child and marriage therapy. This particular interview is with Amy Weber, a therapist out of Park Slope in Brooklyn. She has over 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families.
What are some marriage and parenting trends you see for 2022?
“I am seeing an increase in separating/divorcing couples this year. While my evidence is anecdotal, it feels as if many couples delayed separation/divorce from 2020 – now. I am also receiving a lot more calls about parents needing help getting onto the same page in terms of decisions surrounding their children (whether they're living together or in two households). The past two years have been so stressful for parents and children, and this has obviously strained relationships. All adults have different levels of comfort around risk (masks, vaccines, engaging in activities with friends/extended family, whether or not to stay in NYC, etc), and making decisions around safety have been difficult. I think the next year or so is going to be all about strengthening relationships and learning new strategies for working together to make decisions for children.”
How should parents explain split custody and thus split time to their children after a divorce?
“This is SUCH an important conversation! Start with what is not changing – first and foremost, parents' love and commitment to their children. When children receive this message clearly from both parents, they will feel loved and secure. Let them know what else is not changing – schedules, schools, routines, friends, rules, etc. Once the stage has been set for what will remain constant, you can let them know what will be different. Children are most interested in the concrete information – where will they be living, when will they see each parent, where their toys will be. It is important to give children information, but not overwhelm them with too many details (especially in an initial conversation). Using visual schedules (like a calendar) may help children understand the new plan.”
“When you give children information that makes them feel uncomfortable (angry, sad, etc), they will generally try to wiggle out of the conversation as quickly as possible. This is normal! Do not try to force a conversation if your child is resisting. Leave the door open for questions and processing. Often, kids need time to think about what they've heard, and they'll revisit the discussion a few hours or days later.”
What parenting advice would you give to a newly single parent, recently divorced with the other parent no longer wanting a role in the child’s life?
“Being a single parent is incredibly stressful, and I think it is really important to acknowledge that. Taking care of your own physical and emotional health is critical. If you are in good health, you will be a more attentive, available parent. Build a support network, and find ways to take time for yourself – walks with a friend, listening to music, reading. Showing affection (hugs, praise, spending time together) to your child is important as this decreases stress for both of you. If your child is expressing anger/sadness/disappointment/frustration about their other parent, empathize with their pain, without bad-mouthing them. This can feel really hard, but your child is not the person you can vent to. Save your own fury for a friend or family member or your therapist or your journal. Your child needs to have space to have their own feelings.”
What are some parenting tips for those unfortunately experiencing domestic violence?
“Everyone deserves a home that is safe and free from violence or the threat of violence. The violence is never your fault. But it is your responsibility to ensure your child's safety. Witnessing domestic violence has tremendous short- and long-term impact on children's physical and emotional development. Seek the assistance of a qualified domestic violence hotline to create a safety plan.”
If you have a family law issue, contact the Sabra Law Group in Manhattan at (646) 472-7971. The firm’s expertise is in all forms of family law, such as alimony, divorce, prenuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, child custody battles, child support, domestic violence, and restraining orders.