5 Tips for Parents Who Are Going Through A Divorce: How to Be There for Your Children

Parents can feel confused, guilty, and at a loss as to how to explain to their children why they are getting a divorce. Issues such as infidelity and domestic abuse can feel impossible to explain without disparaging one of the parents. However, if parents decide to divorce because they have fallen out of love, it can also be difficult to explain why that is justification for a divorce (in their children’s eyes).

When any significant negative event happens to someone, it is human nature to want to know why – especially for children trying to make sense of their family breaking apart. Without discussion, children may blame themselves or be angry at their parents for causing them this pain with no reason.

Below are tips to help your children process and heal from divorce:

  1. Empathize. Before approaching your child, take time to be in an understanding place of what your child may be feeling. If your parent’s divorced, then you can remember how it felt and what you wanted to know, did not want to know, or anything someone said that was helpful. If you did not experience this, talk to friends or relatives that have experienced it to gain perspective from a child’s eyes.
  2. Why is this happening? The ‘why’ question becomes prominent with children because they want to know why this is happening and why there is no possibility for it to be avoided. When children are not given any explanation, they frequently blame themselves because developmentally they have limited view of the adult world and adult problems. Children may feel they caused their parent stress through misbehavior or by just the stress of being parents. Allow your child to express their thoughts even if they do not make sense until they feel heard and then you can respond.
  3. False hope. It is normal for children to hope or have fantasies about their parents reuniting. This is a part of the grief process.
  4. Parental guilt. One parent may feel angry that their child is having to go through this pain when it is perceived it was not that parent’s fault. For children, it does not matter. This is about grief and they do not want to be brought into the battle and choose sides. It is important that a child has a place to lean on and express their anger and sadness without their parent’s guilt or anger being expressed. Additionally there are groups such as DivorceCare for Kids. It can be very therapeutic for children to meet other children going through the same process.
  5. Counseling. It may be useful or necessary to seek help. Primarily if a child is showing signs of distress at school or at home. If your child’s grades start to drop or they become withdrawn – finding a counselor who works with families and children can be very beneficial. Your child can have a place to express themselves through play or through talking to a person who is not a family member. Children may want to come alone or with their siblings. Counselors can provide support for parents as well through teaching parenting skills specific to the situation.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more observant than parents realize. Support your child as you would want to be supported.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on issues ranging from depression, anxiety, and grief. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org to learn more about our services.

Author: Brenda Chappell

Brenda Chappell is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. She specializes in working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, and grief. She has worked with children at home and schools, at domestic violence shelters, and with adults in office outpatient therapy. Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

July 2018 Board Corner: Marty Sherman

Marty Sherman, Regional Vice President for Landry’s Inc., has been a member of the JFS Orlando Board of Directors for 16 years and served as President for four years. His company, Landry’s is also an ardent supporter of JFS, both financially and with in-kind donations. Marty has lived in Dr. Phillips, Florida for 21 years after relocating to Central Florida from Maui. His wife, Hope works for Walt Disney World, his daughter is a sophomore at UF and his son is a senior at Dr. Philips High School.

Marty serves on the JFS board and the Community Kitchen Advisory Board at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida because he is passionate about all efforts focused on solving the problem of hunger in Central Florida. By supporting the mission of JFS he hopes to “help those in our community who cannot help themselves, and to teach those in our community the skills they need to eventually help themselves.” If this mission is successful, in the next 40 years, he hopes the community will no longer need help from organizations like JFS.

Interested in helping families in crisis right here in Central Florida? Apply to join our Board of Directors by completing an application and emailing it to Eric.Geboff@JFSorlando.org.

7 Tips for Easier Life Transitions

Seasons change, and so do I….

I remember when Memorial Day marked not just the beginning of summer, but also the unlocking of public pools and beaches, the time when white pants and shoes could now be donned, AND the transition from school to play. That was more than a few years ago!       

Season changes still remain milestones in our lives, no matter how many years ago we graduated from school. The longer days of sunlight offers relief from the dark days of winter. What joy as we delight in light! Yet, on the other side, here in Florida, the warm weather, the VERY warm weather after Memorial Day, might change our daily routines to encompass more indoor, air conditioned activities. Either way, our lives alter as the seasons evolve from one to the next.

Some transitions are welcome, while others require more work for us to adjust. Adapting to warm weather may seem like a piece of cake to most of us, yet some of us miss the outdoors. Giving up afternoon walks might feel like a real loss. Yet, season changes are still fairly simple compared to other transitions many of us confront. These transitions might include moving to a new community, retiring from work, losing a spouse to death or divorce, accepting a new disability or re-configuring your home now that you have an empty nest. Any of these transitions can open the door to depression, anxiety, confusion, anger and/or frustration. Sometimes we need help with managing those transitions—and the accompanying emotions. With assistance, we can embrace the change and make the most out of the opportunity.

If you are struggling with a transition, here are 7 tips for smoothing out the inevitable bumps.

  1. More than anything—TAKE SOME TIME. We tend to be impatient and expect ourselves to adjust rapidly. Any change takes time and the bigger the change, the longer the adjustment will take.
  2. REFLECT. Your life is now different and you can’t expect everything to be the same. Reflect on what you are giving up. We all have a propensity to try to keep things the same. The old was comfortable and familiar. It worked, so why do I have to change now? Your transition might still be too raw to deal with these losses, but with time, you will be able to recount what you miss most about those friends who are no longer in your life, the job that is presently in your rear-view mirror, or your home that you recently sold to downsize.
  3. FEEL. As you list those aspects of your life that have either disappeared or have been significantly altered, you can start the process of letting go. You may be angry about the ending of your relationship, or scared about life with your newly acquired disability. Sadness, confusion or feeling overwhelmed are all are natural and part of the process.
  4. TAKE SOME MORE TIME. As you feel yourself letting go, take time to figure things out. You don’t have to make decisions right away. You are starting on a new life journey and you will be confronting lots of unknowns. There is no way you can have all of the answers right away.
  5. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT. When you move, just about everything changes, from grocery stores to doctor visits. When you retire, your financial decisions are altered, and when you downsize, your favorite piece of furniture might disappear. Don’t minimize all these challenges and don’t take all of the work you are doing for granted. Your strength in making these changes deserves appreciation.
  6. REMEMBER. Remind yourself of the other important beginnings that you have successfully confronted. Starting school or a family both required the transitional skills of a new beginning. You have the resiliency and the experience.
  7. GET HELP. At any stage of the process, you can ask for help. Grief support groups are devised specifically to support those who have recently lost a loved one; vocational counseling can help with designing a new career and psychotherapy can be a crucial component in successfully moving through any life transition that feels overwhelming.

No matter how much we plan, our life’s journey involves transitions, some bigger than others, some anticipated and some not.

If you are struggling with one of the many transitions that we all face at one time or another, please don’t hesitate to contact JFS Orlando. We have individual, couples and family counseling that can not only help you through these tough times, but will allow you to turn the crisis into an opportunity for growth. Call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org to learn more about our services.

Author: Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D.

Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist at JFS Orlando. She’s worked for many years helping people through a variety of transitions such as moving in or out of college, designing a new life post-divorce or the loss of a loved one, or creating a new sense of self after being thrown any one of life’s many curve balls. Presently, she has developed a clinical focus of helping seniors deal with the many transitions of the ‘second act’ such as retirement, empty nest, moving and disability.

June 2018 Board Corner: Mike McKee

Mike has served as JFS Orlando’s Board President since 2013 and as a Board Member since 2009. He holds both a degree in economics and an MBA from Rollins College. He lives in Maitland, Florida, with his wife and two sons. Mike is the President of Inspire Capital Management, LLC. and holds a CFP® designation. In 2017, he authored BIG INCOME – Creating Wealth with Covered Calls, available on Amazon. He also coaches Little League Baseball.

When asked why he serves on the Board for JFS Orlando, Mike replied, “JFS provides a unique opportunity to provide a hand up to families in crisis. We hear so many awful stories on the local news. People are suffering right here in Central Florida. JFS gives me an opportunity to do something about it. I love that I’m able to help out with such a worthy cause.”

Interested in helping families in crisis right here in Central Florida? Apply to join our Board of Directors by completing an application and emailing it to Eric.Geboff@JFSorlando.org.

May 2018 Board Corner: Lynn Minkow

As JFS Orlando celebrates 40 years of serving the community, we take a moment and highlight one of our board members. Lynn Minkow is the daughter of Audrey and David Pearlman, who were avid supporters of JFS Orlando, and provided the funding that endowed the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. 

Lynn is a graduate of Tulane University and holds an MBA in Marketing from New York University. She has 2 children and one grandson. She has been a fashion stylist with the Etcetera Collection for 18 years, and works nationally with the company. Her hobbies are oil painting, yoga and Pilates and worldwide travel.  

When asked why she serves on the board for JFS Orlando, Lynn replied, “I serve to continue the vision and work of my parents. The work of JFS impacts so many of the less fortunate in our community and it is a way that I am able to help make a positive difference in their lives.” Lynn hopes that JFS will still be helping the Central Florida community in the next 40 years.

Interested in making a positive impact in the community? Apply to join our Board of Directors by completing an application and emailing it to Eric.Geboff@JFSorlando.org.

Six Symptoms of Pregnancy Depression/Anxiety You Might Not Be Aware Of

We have all seen the movies with the exemplary pregnant woman who looks like a model, glowing from ear to ear, sleeping through the night, full of energy and happiness. In reality, pregnancy for many women is a hormonal roller coaster, filled with bouts of morning sickness, uncomfortable weight gain, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and worry to name a few. It may be surprising to some that new mother mental health goes beyond postpartum and can occur at any time before, during, or after pregnancy (perinatal).

Here are six symptoms of possible perinatal depression and/or anxiety that you might not have known:

  1. Lowered self-esteem. You may be struggling with guilt or other negative thoughts about yourself as a person, mother or wife.
  2. Decreased social engagement and interest in doing things you used to enjoy doing. You may have turned from an extrovert to an introvert; not returning calls or meeting with people after you agreed to do so.
  3. Sad, depressed mood with little to no highs. You may be feeling lethargic and fatigued even after resting.
  4. Absence of joy in the present and/or for the future as a mother. Little to no excitement about shopping for the baby, being pregnant or having a baby.
  5. Anxiety, racing thoughts and stress about motherhood and being pregnant. May have perfectionistic desires for self and others.
  6. Intrusive, usually scary, thoughts about harming yourself, the baby, or something catastrophic happening outside your control, with no intent to act on the thought. You have fears or visions of the event occurring.

If you or a loved one can relate to any of these symptoms and their impact on your day-to-day life, help is available. Recovery from prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety is possible once discovered and proper help is received. No one has to go through it alone. Educate yourself and others by going to Postpartum Support International www.postpartum.net or call their Warmline at 1.800.944.4PPD. As always, in case of an emergency please call 911 and take yourself to the nearest emergency room.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on Perinatal, Prenatal, and Postpartum Mood Disorders including depression, anxiety, and OCD, as well as grief and loss. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org to learn more about our services.



Author: Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes

Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Therapist Supervisor and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

Hurricane Irma

hurricane-irma-satellite-noaa-ht-jc-170905_12x5_992Hurricane Irma Update: Irma has left many Central Floridians without the most basic of needs: food, water and shelter. JFS Orlando has addressed those exact needs for nearly 40 years and we continue to open our doors and outstretch our hands to lift up those in need. After a natural disaster, it is amazing to see a community band together and help neighbors in need. Now that we have begun to pick up the pieces, many of you are asking how you can help. We have listed our most urgent Agency needs below and appreciate your support!

1. DONATE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD. Our Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is expecting numbers to continue to rise as power is restored and citizens are able to replenish their food that spoiled. Donations can be dropped off at our building located at The George Wolly Center 2100 Lee Rd., Winter Park, FL 32789.
2. MONETARY DONATIONS. Much of the food we give out through the pantry is purchased from a local food bank. Every dollar donated turns into $6 worth of purchasing power to supplement what we do not get donated from the community. Donations can be made online at www.jfsorlando.org/give/ or by calling Amanda Benedit at 407-644-7593 ext. 227
3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. Our food pantry is staffed by a wonderful core group of volunteers, however, with increased numbers of clients we will likely extend our pantry hours and need your help to distribute food to those in need. You can apply to become a volunteer by calling Amanda Benedit 407-644-7593 ext. 227.

For additional information on how you can help with Hurricane Irma Relief, please visit www.jfsorlando.org or call 407-644-7593.

JFS Orlando receives $50,000 for FSP!

Check presentationJFS Orlando recently received a $50,000 grant from the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The grant will support JFS Orlando’s Family Stabilization Program.

The Family Stabilization Program is designed to help family’s improve overall stability and self-sufficiency. This program assists clients with budgeting, individual financial counseling, mental health counseling and providing case management to help improve their educational and/or employment status. 

“We are more than grateful for the generous support that the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund has provided JFS Orlando over the past 15 years,” says JFS Orlando Executive Director Eric Geboff. “The Family Stabilization Program continues to grow every year, and the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund has helped expand our services to assist more families in need.”

In 2016, JFS Orlando assisted 101 families through the Family Stabilization Program and had a 96% success rate. The success rate is determined by the completion of the 6-month program and improvement to their overall stability and self-sufficiency.

$585,000 was distributed to 13 nonprofit organizations in Central Florida through the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund in this grant cycle.

JFS Orlando welcomes new Clinical Supervisor

Douglass-Barnes, AshlynJFS Orlando welcomes Ashlyn Douglas-Barnes, a licensed clinical social worker and qualified clinical supervisor, to the Counseling, Growth and Development Program as a clinical therapist supervisor. Douglas-Barnes has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

Douglas-Barnes specializes in adults and couples, with a range of concerns from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma, chronic illness, and relationship issues with a focus on improving communication, self-esteem, and self-confidence. She is certified by Postpartum International for specialized care of perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression). Douglas-Barnes is also certified to complete pre-surgical mental health clearance for bariatric surgery, as well as counseling before and after bariatric surgery for individuals and couples.

Read more about Ashlyn and the Counseling, Growth and Development Program in our article featured in THE HERITAGE.

Niki Wilkerson, Summit Church Community Engagement Coordinator

Niki Wilkerson, Community Engagement Coordinator with Summit Church, talks about why she refers clients to JFS Orlando. Niki’s team at Summit strives to care for those in need and build relationships with organizations worldwide that share a vision for ending injustices brought about by poverty. JFS Orlando is proud to be one of those partners.