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    COMMUNITY VIEW: Co-parenting tips for the holidays

    While I fully appreciate the difficult struggles many divorced couples deal with, I encourage divorced patients who remain in co-parenting relationships to remember that their children’s adjustment and emotional well-being should be what is most important – not just during holidays, but across the entire year.
    I offer the following co-parenting tips for divorced couples this holiday season:

    Plan ahead and communicate things clearly: Planning ahead and communicating are essential ingredients for a strong and successful co-parenting relationship. This is important for divorced couples who are in a state of high conflict since strong, negative emotions can contribute to defensive communication that can escalate into bad moments. Planning ahead and communicating about things clearly is even important for divorced couples who get along well since living separate lives can lead to assumptions and misunderstandings. For example, a patient of mine from several years ago made expensive travel arrangements for her children and herself for the Christmas week. Unfortunately, her ex-husband had done the same thing. In the end, there were several non-refundable tickets and hotel reservations for one parent, and all of this could have been avoided with better planning and communication.   

    Keep or create new family traditions: Some families are able to continue their holiday traditions after divorce, and this can be healthy. For instance, divorced couples of young children may wish to be together on Christmas morning when gifts are being opened under the tree. This co-parenting moment can serve to give younger children the predictability, consistency and closeness that they have always experienced and known with their parents. Thus, listening to your children, or at least considering their needs (developmental and emotional) is a good idea when planning for the holidays as a divorced couple. Most families, however, create new family traditions, which can also be healthy. Volunteering, running a 5K, visiting a specific destination annually or visiting extended family are some ideas that can feel good and become the new normal for your children over time. 

    Practice kindness: Children can be very aware of how their parents feel about each other so be mindful of what you say to your ex and how you behave with him or her in the presence of your children. For couples who actively co-parent and with little trouble, practicing kindness is easier to do than for couples who have a more complicated history with ongoing struggles. Regardless of whether you co-parent actively or you co-parent in the minimum due to your situation, remember that children learn some of their most important life lessons from their parents, including how to have a loving relationship with a significant other. 
    Although children of divorced parents live in two separate homes, it should always be the goal of divorced parents to create two happy homes for their children. And children should always experience their parents as being together for them as mom and dad – especially during important moments. When working with divorced parents in high-conflict relationships, I remind them to keep things in perspective; that they will likely be attending their children’s graduations and weddings and their children need them to be there fully for them. When divorced parents can move beyond their upset and instead demonstrate respect and practice kindness in the presence of their children, they are teaching their children how to love and how to be in a relationship.  The holidays with your children can create opportunities for you to be mindful of how you are at transitions with your children and how you are (and want to be) together with your children as a divorced family.     



    Ashburn Psychological Services

    Power project creates exposure

    It has come to my attention that the Dominion Loudoun to Pleasant View 500KV Rebuild Project may threaten the health of residents in the Stone Ridge development.

    They will be exposed constantly – day and night – to high electro-magnetic fields of radiation (EMF). While this project is presented by Dominion as a mere rebuilding project for a 500,000-volt line, it ignores the 230,000-volt line that adjoins in the right-of-way. So, 730,000 volts are radiating EMF on families living close to the lines. EMF has been identified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and other scientific bodies. Children are particularly sensitive to the ill effects of EMF.

    Specifically, homes on Suffolk Downs, Laughter, Cynthia, Eloquence, Sweet Myrtle, Expectation, Bright, Serpentine, Beryl, Wooly Mammoth and Cordgrass appear to be within a danger zone cited by such states as Connecticut.

    In approving the project, the State Corporation Commission failed to take into consideration this potential EMF threat to Loudoun families even though its governing authority directs the SCC to “minimize adverse environmental impact.” The SCC did not seek an opinion from the Virginia Health Department on the health effects from proximity of the line to Loudoun families. Once again the SCC has deferred to Dominion Power.

    This threat to Loudoun residents could be removed by placing both the 500KV and 230KV underground.  It would also protect the 13-mile line from the increasing threat from summer and winter storms while also removing an eyesore that mars the beauty of Loudoun.

    (Letter sent to Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors)

    Patrick Sloyan

    Paeonian Springs

    The playground challenge

    Are elementary school playgrounds important and, if so, should Loudoun County taxpayers, through the issuance of school bonds include these costs, or should we follow the tradition of having parents’ organizations (PTAs/PTOs) galvanize the school community through fundraising activities?

    School playgrounds don’t come cheap. It has been estimated by LCPS that these playgrounds can run between $50,000 to $75,000, due in part that they must be “fully accessible and compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.”

    School Board member Debbie Rose (Algonkian) questioned, rightly I think, whether taxpayers should shoulder the burden of new playgrounds resulting in having county residents financing the playgrounds for at least 20 years, the scheduled time-frame for the supervisors to pay off school-building bonds.

    There are currently four out of 55 elementary schools without playgrounds. Moorefield Station and Cardinal Ridge are practically new and are located in affluent areas of the county. I have no doubt those parents will be able to provide those schools with a fine playground in due time.

    However, I worry about Meadowland Elementary in Sterling, an older school, that has never been in a position to garner much community support for a playground, as well as Leesburg’s newest school, Frederick Douglass Elementary, both of which are populated by a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students.

    The four schools’ profiles document the percentage of students receiving “free or reduced lunch” and thus, this is where the inequity lies: Cardinal Ridge (05 percent), Moorefield Station (06 percent) vs. Frederick Douglass (28 percent) and Meadowland (37 percent).

    As a former School Board member, representing the Leesburg District, and as a parent whose children spent all 12 years through June 2014 of their public education in our Leesburg schools, I want to challenge the Leesburg school communities as well as our town leaders, business and political, to donate to Frederick Douglass School’s Playground Fund.

    Please send a check to Frederick Douglass PTA, 510 Principal Drummond Way, Leesburg, VA 20175.

    I will match your efforts starting today until the end of the year with a pledge of up to $1,000. Let’s get behind this effort for our kids in our newest school.

    Tom Marshall

    Former School Board member, Leesburg

    Jack Kent Cooke Foundation fosters quality education

    It’s great to see organizations like the JKCF making a conscious effort to promote higher education for children from low-income families. These children have no control over the life into which they are born.

    Socioeconomic factors, such as family income, race and cultural background, have a dramatic impact on the level of education a child pursues. Parental involvement also is important. Children benefit greatly from parents and other role models who emphasize how important education is to get ahead in life and break through the socioeconomic barriers that exist, even if those barriers held them back.

    Children from low-income families are at a disadvantage if they do not have this support and encouragement to gain education, knowledge and social skills.

    JKCF and similar organizations help families overcome the socioeconomic hurdles and promote parental involvement.

    They conduct research and provide programs designed to offer parents and children the opportunity for personal growth, to attain a foundation for learning, to acquire new skills and find ways to allow the children to pursue higher education, which helps solve many social problems. We should support grants and other funding for JKCF’s wonderful objectives.

    Robert L. Walker


    Renewable resources are crucial

    are crucial

    The Letter “Energy security is also national security” (11/5/2014) ignored our domestic potential for renewable energy and the hidden costs of relying on coal. Focusing on renewable resources is crucial, because continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels, wherever they come from, will take a heavy toll on our health while destroying our environment.

    Our veterans put themselves in harm’s way to defend us; we have the responsibility of protecting their health and well-being when they come back home. Ensuring access to quality medical care is vital, of course, but it’s not sufficient. We must also work to make sure that they have safe, healthy air to breathe and clean water to drink in their communities.

    Extracting and burning coal causes air and water pollution that harms human health. Pollutants from coal-fired power plants can exacerbate lung and heart problems, cause cancer and lead to premature death while also contaminating our water resources. The elderly, along with children and people with asthma, COPD, heart disease or diabetes, are at particular risk. In addition their extraction destroys our environment with mountaintop removal permanently altering the physical landscape.

    The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a flexible standard that would allow Virginia to reduce its carbon emissions – and, consequently, other emissions like soot- and smog-forming pollutants – in an economically sound way. It’s a step down the right path for Virginia’s energy future: a future that uses less coal and more local, clean, renewable energy that will make us energy independent.

    Cleaning up emissions from coal and shifting to a cleaner energy mix is a moral obligation. We owe it to our veterans, their families and their communities to protect their health here at home.


    Kathee Myers

    Loudoun County

    COMMUNITY VIEW: Sensors in helmets is a no brainer
    Support for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
    Every child should receive quality education
    Briar Woods football program warrants our respect
    COMMUNITY VIEW: The end of civility
    COMMUNITY VIEW: Politics and policy are joined at the hip
    COMMUNITY VIEW: Too many citizens squander right to vote
    Energy security is also national security
    An appeal for Lovettsville Cemetery
    Martinez has spurred economic development
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    Loudoun Business Journal - Fall 2014

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