Divorce and better parenting
Mar 15th, 2017 by Families First Mediation

Ok, I’m not saying that this is always the case and I’m not trying to go against all of the people that say divorce hurts children.

Here’s a positive though, see if it resonates with any of you. I AM A BETTER MOM because of my divorce. I don’t take my kids for granted, there isn’t always tomorrow to spend time with them, they could be at Dad’s

When they were smaller, I did laundry, cleaned and did shopping on the weeks that I didn’t have my children. I also worked overtime and travelled on the weeks that I didn’t have my children.

Do you know what I did on the weeks I did have my children? Played, talked and spent time with them. What a joy!

I’m a better mom because I stopped delegating things to their Dad. I rarely got babysitters, I learned how to cook (although this took years), I got home from work on time, I helped with homework, I was involved in my children’s lives in a way I was not when my ex and I were together.

I was there when they were sick, I took them to appointments, I was there for the tears, the laughs and the temper tantrums.

When I was focused on my career and financially supporting our family with a stay at home Dad I missed bath time, bedtimes, extracurricular, school events (such as Mother’s Day tea) and even missed my daughter’s first birthday.

Now I try not to miss anything. It’s just not worth it. Our divorce allowed me the opportunity to refocus my priorities, which I now think that I have in the right order.

My children and I travelled together, we were the 3 musketeers. We had so much fun. I got to enjoy who my children were as people and leave some of life’s stressor to be dealt with when I didn’t have them.

Having that “me” time takes some getting used to. You think that you are missing so much time already, so make good use of the time you do have with the children. After a little break, you may be less stressed, ….and more open.

If you ask my ex I’m sure he would say that he was a better parent than me and that the children should have grown up with him as the primary parent – at least that was his argument at the beginning.  As do many parents, I struggled with this, what was better? A stable home for the children or a stable co-parenting arrangement? One involved a primary home and a primary parent, the other 2 homes and 2 equal parents.

At the end of the day we decided that 2 homes and 2 equal parents worked best for our family. I’m so happy that I had this opportunity to learn, grow and be a better parent.

As a mediator, I see parent’s struggle with this decision every day. It’s about what works for your children, your schedule and you as parents. It’s sad to see parents with the best of intentions just have different ideas about what is in their children’s best interests. I have seen many parents in a similar position to me step up in a 50/50 shared parenting arrangement. I have also seen parents who didn’t feel this would work for their family or were just not able to do it. It’s important to note that there are also many other ways to share parenting time between the 50/50 and 90/10 you hear about most. A parenting schedule that works for your family is the right one.

Some parents are just better separate. Some families are happier apart. Sometimes children do better when the parents are focused on them and not all of the “other” issues that go along with being in a significant relationship that isn’t working.

The one thing I can tell you, and tell you strongly…don’t make parenting decisions about the child support. Make them about your children!

You may be pleasantly surprised at how well the children can do if you are both there for them to the extent you can be.


A Family Is A Family – LGBTQ & Divorce Mediation
Feb 10th, 2017 by Families First Mediation

LGBTQ families and Divorce Mediation – Support for ALL families.

I had an interesting comment conveyed to me the other day and it got me thinking – yes even on a Friday 🙂

I was reviewing a flyer and wanted to make sure that the wording was inclusive. I had a concern that the way something was worded could be perceived as only relating to a male-female, mom-dad family. I wanted to ensure that my LGBTQ clients would not be or feel left out. (I am not excluding grandparents, step parents or anyone else acting in place of a parent. This flyer was intended for parenting after separation or divorce and specific issues related to that.)

The response was not a concern about the change of wording but the comment “I didn’t know that you mediated with LGBTQ clients”. Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I? “I didn’t see it on your website.”

A family is a family. No two families are the same and each has their own special circumstances. It never occurred to me to single out any specific family type and let them know that yes, I did support them. I thought by not excluding anyone, I was including everyone. Perhaps that needed clarity, I’d honestly not thought about it.

Here’s what I can say and am comfortable saying. I love working with families. During separation and divorce, I love helping them move forward. I love hearing how they are all different – their values, beliefs, how they became a family, how to raise children and how those roles can change after separation or divorce.

I don’t care if a couple is common-law or married, same sex or not. I don’t care if there are multiple parents, step-parents, grandparents, sperm donors, surrogates, adoptions or any other combination of features within a family.

Each family I work with, shares their own unique story with me. For that I am always respectful and grateful that they trust me enough to do that.

Hoping to add some clarity – Families First Mediation supports ALL families.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation


Changing Your Parenting Plan – FREE Workshop in Oshawa Sept 15, 2016
Sep 6th, 2016 by Families First Mediation

Your parenting plan is a living breathing document. It can change with the needs of your family and your children. These conversations need to happen and they are often challenging.

Debbie Miles-Senior from Side By Side Supervised Access Services and Julie Gill of Families First Mediation & join forces to help you answer the questions:

  • Why would I need to change my parenting plan?
  • Why are these changes so difficult and how do we make the changes?
  • What if we don’t agree?
  • How involved should children be?
  • Whose plan is it anyway?

Please join us for an open discussion as we provide answers to these questions and others.

Children Change - Flyer Parenting Plans


Parenting Plans & Teens…How To Handle Changes
Oct 7th, 2014 by Families First Mediation

You have been divorced for 6 years. Your parenting plan did an excellent job of identifying when each of you would be the “active” parent and spend time with your kids. It set out how you were going to parent, how you would handle holidays, expenses and how you as parents would make changes to the plan.

parenting teen


Surprise, surprise, your 15 year old has decided that your parenting plan no longer works for him/her. Did you discuss during your separation how you would handle changes that were initiated by your children?

Read the rest of this entry »

Constantly Struggling With Your Ex About Parenting Issues?
May 14th, 2013 by Families First Mediation

Whether you created a parenting plan years ago that now requires a change or you would like to put one in place to ensure more stability and routine around your parenting roles; mediation can help save you a lot of time and stress. Many families repeatedly go back to their lawyers or worse -court- when they are trying to resolve a conflict after divorce. There is nobody that knows your children better than you do.

Often trying to make the smallest of changes in the months or years after a separation result in the largest of fights. Read the rest of this entry »

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