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How To Manage Financial Conflicts Within Your Family During The Holidays


Does your family argue or fight about money or finances during the Holidays? Expectations about what kinds of gifts to buy, how much you can afford to spend on travel or even when siblings or other family members ask for money can cause conflict. Dave and Pattie will talk about some of the causes of Holiday financial conflicts, some strategies to keep from being sucked into the drama and even some tips about how to calm family members down when emotions about money are high.


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Back to School and the Woes of Pokémon™ Go

cc0 public domain pokemon go cellAs referenced in the Wall Street Journal article by Sarah Needleman entitled “’Pokémon™ Go’ Craze Raises Safety Issues”, the cell phone app game called “Pokémon™ Go” has caused concern on many levels. These concerns are due to the nature of the game, which involves on-foot travel to capture specific characters and collect them to battle others who play the game. According to Needleman’s article, Don Boyes, a geography professor at the University of Toronto maintains the game itself “could be potentially leading people into areas where they don’t belong.” This safety concern is because the Pokéstops™ (places where you can collect Pokemon™ characters) are sites where people can get hurt when they are not paying attention, such as construction sites and abandoned properties. Not only is the game posing concerns around physical safety, but the game also may raise concerns for parents who have children going back to school.

In the CNN article entitled “A parents’ guide to Pokémon™ Go”, author Christopher Dawson notes concerns related to how much time children spend looking at the screen and playing.  While he cites the benefits of exercise, he also notes that parents should be aware that children are simultaneously walking and playing the game and not paying attention to their surroundings. As a result, children are prone to injuries such as getting hit by cars, walking on rough terrain and getting robbed by thieves. In addition to physical safety and inattention, many parents, and even I see another concern, and that is the game can be very addictive.  Students, in general, are already addicted to their Smart phones texting, calling and using social media. It is hard not to stay constantly plugged in for most young people.  For teachers, one of their main concerns is keeping students focused in class without the need to compete for their attention. Even though I am not a parent, I too struggle in balancing my time with technology and the expectations of time spent with family.   For example, my family does not care about using phones at the table or while talking to one another. The expectation is to focus our communication on each other.

Here are some tips to consider how you might help raise awareness, guide and manage your kids’ game play.

1)  Set a time limit for young kids. Give your children time limits and restrictions including when they can play their app games. Follow through with consequences including the possibility of uninstalling the app from their phone. On the other hand, reward them with gameplay when they do well in school.

2)  For older students, expose them to the news stories on the dangers and consequences of Pokémon™ Go. Hopefully, they can see how far is too far with this game. Follow up with a simple talk and raise awareness of the dangerous addiction to the game.

3)  If you are a parent or teacher, research the actual game and become familiarized with the various components of the game. Even if you are totally turned off towards the idea of the game, the kids may be more inclined to listen to your guidance if you know simply how fun this can be to them.

Here are two additional strategies for teaching kids safety while playing Pokémon™ Go, as cited by blog article “Ground rules for catching ’em all” by Brittany Morgan.

1)  Teach children to “look up” as Brittany states so that they are aware of their surroundings.

2)  Encourage children to play the game in “teams” so they are not alone while catching their characters. This team concept allows safety in numbers.

With kids returning to school, it is my sincere hope that these tips are helpful to you by raising awareness that your children can have a healthy balance of fun and safety while enjoying the game Pokémon™ Go.



Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management Program

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Separating Families: How to Use Online Technology to Mediate Your Situation


This program is part of Cyberweek 2015

Callum Campbellzena ZumetaPattie PorterFamily Resolve connects parents and partners with mediators using webcam-enabled online dispute resolution to bring mediation processes to separating families. Participants will learn how to use the internet with mediators to resolve family issues when there are distances between the parties, domestic violence issues involved or cost factors become a concern.


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The Insincere Apology: How to Authentically Acknowledge

apologuI come from an extended family that argues and engages conflict frequently. Recently, I began mapping out the seating chart for my upcoming wedding, and I ran into several placement issues due to pending conflicts between different members of my extended family. I would like to believe that the members of my family would put on a happy face just for the occasion, but it is also a risk I am not willing to take. Now I am playing seating chart Jenga, in hopes that my strategically placed tables won’t collapse into a verbal sparring match between the members of my family. When I began at the University of Baltimore’s negotiation and conflict management program in the spring of 2013, I spent a lot of time analyzing my family and their clashes with one another throughout my time at the University of Baltimore. I have deduced one important point that often stands in the way of them reaching a resolution, an apology. Now just to be clear, my family is not the only group of people that struggle to achieve resolution due to a lack of apology. Most people that vent to me about their disagreements encounter this issue as well. The truth is most people struggle with saying I’m sorry, but why?

Many people may feel that saying I’m sorry is an admission of wrongdoing or defeat. We are headstrong about our values and beliefs, if someone is challenging us and offends us; we may see ourselves as the victim. We believe WE deserve the apology instead of being the one to give it. Most of us fail to realize the power a sincere apology can have on another person. I can remember at the University of Baltimore, my professors taught us that many arguments would see resolutions if one or both parties would just say sorry. Some situations where conflicts are deep rooted, one sincere apology may not be enough, but it has the potential to be a building block to moving in the right direction.

How can a person give a sincere apology?
1. Recognize that by saying you’re sorry you are not admitting defeat or conceding that you did something wrong entirely. It is important to remember that all parties in every conflict contribute in some form. Perhaps you did not initiate the fight first, but once you got angry, you made hurtful remarks, which further escalated the disagreement. Apologize for your contribution.

2. Leave out the “but” in your apologies. I have had apologies said to me in the past that start off well then once they say I’m sorry, they follow it with “but I reacted this way because you did [fill in the blank].” The apology loses all sincerity once a person tacks on what they believe to be a justifiable reason for engaging in their bad behavior. Apologize but leave off any excuse for why you said or behaved the way you did.

3. Acknowledge their feelings. When someone has upset us, we are not typically looking for just an “I’m sorry”; we want our feelings recognized. We need to know that the other person is aware of what has upset us and that they are not just saying words to dismiss the conflict.

I often wonder if my family members would have sincerely apologized at the start of several of their feuds if they would have a resolution now? My hope is that at my wedding all my family members can come together and be civil, but if any arguments were to break out, fortunately, I will know how to handle them!

If you want to know hear more about Apologies and Forgiveness check out these podcasts:

Transforming Conflict Through Forgiveness and Forgiveness: The Gift You Give To Yourself

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Permission and credit for Clip Arts

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The Unique Challenges of Military Families – 3 Building Blocks for Happier, Healthier Relationships

Dr. Patricia E. Adams

As a licensed marriage and family therapist for nearly 20 years, Dr. Adams has discovered a common thread that binds us together—the power that relationships have in our lives. Through research, Dr. Adams began to unravel the complexity of relationships and to uncover the basic principles upon which successful relationships are built. By redefining these principles, she has developed simple and practical applications that those in military service (both current and former) and their families can use in their everyday lives. The ABCs of Change will alter forever the way you relate…and it will change your life.


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The Magic of Elder Mediation

Judy McCann-Beranger

Elder mediation can enhance family communication skills and change the face of health care as we know it. It promotes dignity and respect and enhances the quality of life for all concerned. Elder mediation is a focused, preventative, respectful process – usually multi-party, multi-issue and intergenerational – whereby a trained elder mediator ensures, as much as possible, that all who need to be are present in the mediation. The mediator facilitates discussions focusing on present strengths and assists participants in exploring their stated issues or concerns. This form of mediation often involves the many people related to the issues, such as family members, caregivers, organizations, agencies and/or any named service providers.


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Overcoming Conflict at Family Gatherings

Summer is here and with it comes more opportunities for great get-togethers with the extended family. Swim parties, barbecues, family reunions, picnics – the possibilities are endless. With multiple generations and all the different personalities, conflict may seem inevitable – but it isn’t!

Join my guest Janet Bonnin of Fine Tuned Families and myself as we explore ways to minimize the friction at your next family gathering. Call in and join us with your questions and comments. We look forward to hearing you on the call!


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