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Avoiding communication breakdowns with children

We’ve talked about what to do when, despite your best efforts, your relationship with your partner is about to end. Strategies we discussed included getting legal advice, considering alternatives to litigation and understanding that there’s no such thing as “winning” custody. This week I want to share a few more strategies that are designed to improve your entire family’s communication.

• Talk to your children. One of the hardest things about a breakup is having to tell your child about it. If possible, you and your partner should do it together. Regardless of your child’s age, what he or she really wants to know is, “How is this going to affect me?” Everything you say should answer that question in age-appropriate terms.

Start with a short explanation of what divorce is: “Mommy and Daddy are going to be living in different houses. But we both love you, and we will always take care of you.” Your child most likely won’t ask many questions, but that doesn’t mean she’s not affected. So try to anticipate — and pre-emptively answer as many of her concerns as possible. Tell her, for example, “You’re going to have one room at Daddy’s house and one at Mommy’s”; “You’ll be able to bring your favorite blankie with you wherever you go”; “Mommies and daddies can get divorced from each other, but they never get divorced from their children. We will always love you and take care of you”; “No, this is not happening because of anything you did.”

Let your child know that feelings — even strong ones — are OK. “Divorce is hard for mommies and daddies and kids too, and it’s OK to be sad or mad. But no matter what happens, we’ll always love you and be here to care for you.” (Are you seeing the theme here?)

You may also want to read your child a few of the excellent books out there that deal with divorce and how kids process it.

• Never badmouth your child’s other parent or use your child as a spy. Your child sees herself as being “half Daddy and half Mommy” and she’ll take a criticism of her mother (or you) as a criticism of her. Asking her to spy puts her in the horrible position of having to side with one parent over the other.

• Get more counseling. Like it or not, you and your partner — even if you aren’t partners anymore — will be your child’s parents until the day you die. For that reason, it’s to everyone’s advantage, especially your child’s, that you two get to a point where you can communicate civilly and reasonably and that you get there as soon as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to go to joint counseling, which comes in two basic flavors: pre-divorce counseling and co-parent counseling. As you can probably guess, pre-divorce counseling takes place in the early stages of the divorce process, most likely before any kind of custody or separation arrangements have been finalized. Pre-divorce counseling is designed to help you and your partner dissipate some of the anger and hostility between you so you can build a better base of communication. Then, hopefully, you’ll be able to make mature, informed, and rational decisions and not get tripped up by your vindictiveness. Co-parent counseling is similar, except that it happens after initial custody and separation arrangements are in place. You and your partner may find that your counselor’s office is a safe, neutral place to have discussions about the kids.

If your partner refuses at attend counseling with you, go by yourself. Hopefully you’ll learn some skills that will help you in your lifelong relationship with each other. And if you do end up in court, the fact that you went to counseling is a clear demonstration of your desire to work together with your ex.

Contact Brott at Dad, or at @mrdad on Twitter.

When a kiss is more than a kiss

Mayo Clinic News Network

Often referred to as the “kissing disease,” mononucleosis is a common ailment caused by the Epstein-Barr virus that is transmitted through saliva.

While you can get the virus through kissing, you also can be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing cups or utensils with someone who is infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 95 percent of people will be infected with the Epstein-Barr virus at some point in their lives, with approximately 1 in 4 people developing infectious mononucleosis, or mono.

“Mono is very common and contagious, although not as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold,” says Dr. Tina Ardon, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

Although mononucleosis can affect anyone, it is more common in adolescents and young adults in particular. “They are more prone because of how it spreads,” says Ardon, adding that mononucleosis can occur at any time but is more prevalent during cold and flu season.

According to Ardon, many with Epstein-Barr virus infections will be asymptomatic, but others will have symptoms that mimic other illnesses, such as fever, sore throat and swollen glands.

“Other symptoms of mono, including fatigue, can last for several weeks and can have an enormous impact on quality of life, school, activities, and so on,” says Ardon.

A blood test is available to help confirm the diagnosis of mononucleosis.

Treatment is usually focused on rest and medications to aid with specific symptoms, if needed, she adds.

While mononucleosis isn’t dangerous for most people, Ardon notes that some individuals can have rarer complications that may include problems with their liver, low blood or platelet counts or nervous system issues. It also can cause serious challenges for those patients who have a suppressed immune system, such as those on chemotherapy or with HIV/AIDS.

Since there is no vaccine for the Epstein-Barr virus, it is important to practice good general hygiene like hand-washing.

If you are diagnosed with mononucleosis, Ardon recommends keeping your distance. “You can prevent spreading the virus to others by not kissing, (and not) sharing food, dishes, glasses and other personal items,” Ardon says. “And cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. This is important when it comes to preventing the spread of all viruses, including mono.”

Births 02/10/19

At HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire

William and Jennifer Hassard, Eau Claire, daughter, Jaelynn May Hassard, Jan. 27.

Jeffrey Smith and Brianna Bartlett, Eau Claire, daughter, Zelda Marie Smith, Jan. 27.

Jacob Sather and Kelsey Rose, Eau Claire, daughter, Izabella Rose Sather, Jan. 28.

Lane and Alyssa Wojtyna, Eau Claire, daughter, Finley Yanzick Wojtyna, Jan. 30.

Dallas Hanson and Abby Lorenz, Eau Claire, daughter, Keara Louise Hanson, Feb. 1.

At HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls

Jason and Stephanie Benson, Chippewa Falls, daughter, Charlotte Marie Benson, Jan. 24.

Alecia Swensen and Mitchell Phelps, Cornell, son, Oliver Michael Phelps, Jan. 30.

At Marshfield Medical Center in Eau Claire

Kathryn and Thomas O’Halloran, Eau Claire, daughter, Murphy Berta O’Halloran, Jan. 30.

Marriage Licenses
Marriage Licenses 02/10/19

Eau Claire County

Wilbur A. Gingerich, 25, Catherine P. Borntrager, 25, both of Bethany, Mo.

Roger A. Minck, 53, Carla R. Aumiller, 40, both of Eau Claire.

Nathan S. Plakke, 31, Ashley N. Hillman, 28, both of the town of Union.