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Risa Garon
Risa Garon, LCSW-C, BCD, CFLE is Executive Director and co-founder of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc.(NFRC) formerly Children of Separation and Divorce Center, Inc. in Columbia, Rockville and Solomons, Maryland. NFRC is a private, non-profit mental health center serving children and families throughout the lifecycle who are experiencing transitions such a pre marriage, marriage, separation, divorce and step parenting.

Ms. Garon is a licensed clinical social worker, board certified diplomate and certified family life educator. In addition, she is a certified mediator and is trained and certified in collaborative law, serving as a divorce coach and child specialist. As a psychotherapist, Ms. Garon specializes in working with adolescents and adults. She works with many parents experiencing separation, divorce and blended families, helping them craft child focused parent plans.

Recently, Ms. Garon led a team or professionals in writing and developing NFRC’s on line parenting plan program, FamilyConnex® which is utilized by parents across the country. Ms. Garon developed the Child and Family Focused Decision Making Model that supports the best interest of the child and is utilized in training judges, lawyers, mediators and mental health professionals across the country. Ms. Garon and a team of judges, attorneys, mediators and specialists from the community, along with NFRC staff, have developed the National Family Resiliency Program, a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to a non-adversarial, child focused divorce process.
The model is detailed in a book that she co-authored, Guidelines for Child Focused Decision Making. Ms. Garon, along with NFRC staff, developed a national certification training program for professionals who want to implement the NFRC’s Healing Hearts® divorce education program for parents and KidShare® educational programs for children. Ms. Garon designed a state of the art advanced training seminar for Best Interest Attorneys and co-authored the book: Attorneys Representing Children: Guidelines for Interviewing and Assessing Children and Parents Experiencing Separation and Divorce. She has also contributed numerous articles to professional journals and major newspapers. Ms. Garon contributed two chapters in the American Bar Association's "Child and Youth Developmental Considerations," and "Parenting Considerations," A Judge's Guide: Making Child-Centered Decisions in Custody Cases. Ms. Garon is a faculty member of The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which recently selected NFRC as an exemplary program to work with family courts and adjunct assistant professor with the University of Maryland School of Social Work. In 2001, the Association of Family Court and Community Professionals presented Ms. Garon with the Irwin Cantor Award for Innovative Programming.

Entries by Risa Garon

Holiday Time for Children of Divorce

(1) Comments | Posted December 18, 2015 | 12:33 PM

One of the most difficult challenges for families experiencing transitions such as separation and divorce occurs at holiday times, particularly when it is the first event after a family transition. Whether it is Hanukkah, Kwanza or Christmas, there is such hype about the holidays and the picture perfect image created...

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Loneliness: The Sound of Silence

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2015 | 5:28 PM

I met with a group of our teen and young adult volunteer peer counselors a few weeks ago. I am so impressed by their dedication and choice to attend our meeting rather than hang out with their friends or go to a local concert. Our peer counselors at NFRC give...

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A Tribute to Single Parent Moms

(1) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 4:10 PM

Maggie went from shelter to shelter with her children, always encouraging them to do their best, finding any kind of job to support them, encouraging her son to pursue his artistic talents, finding a big sister for her daughter and finally a mentor who could help her daughter obtain a...

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Where Is My Home for the Holidays?

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 4:28 PM

"I never pictured it this way," the college freshman said." I didn't think I would have to make a decision about which parent's home I should go to over winter break." "This is very unnerving." Young children wonder how Santa or Harry Hanukkah will know where to find them. "I...

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Sports as a Battleground for Families in Transition

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 3:00 PM

"I missed two practices because my parent refused to take me because my other parent had signed me up."

"I beg my parents not to come to my games at the same time because I am afraid they will argue and embarrass me in front of my team."

"I feel...

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Back To School Rules for Co-Parents

(1) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 12:35 PM

As our children return to school, we encourage them to have a fresh and successful start:

1. Work hard to achieve your potential

2. Be nice to your teachers and fellow students

3. Follow the rules

As children and families experiencing family transitions, how can parents follow the same rules...

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Teens Caught in the Web of Parents' Conflicts

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 3:04 PM

"How can they do this to me? Do you know how humiliating this is in front of my friends?"
"Why should I try when they don't care about how I feel?"
"They tell me to follow rules and be respectful; what about them?"

The easy living of summer...

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Grandparenting Children of Divorce

(2) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 7:31 PM

In recent Supreme Court decisions regarding grandparent's rights, the justices indicated that parents are the decision makers about access to their children. However, that does not diminish the significant role of grandparents in the lives of their children and grandchildren, particularly during times of transition.

Recently our staff had a...

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Parents: A Call to Action

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 6:50 PM

Recently, there was a shooting at Columbia Mall in Maryland with lives lost, thousands of people scared and what is now a common scene on TV: SWAT teams, police, helicopters, frightened children and parents running from the scene with public officials working extremely hard to handle the crisis and reassure...

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The Meaning of Gifts: How Much Do You Want to Spend on Your Children?

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 9:20 AM

I recently met with a group of judges who make custody and access decisions about children. It was helpful and exhilarating to hear their comments. A major point judges made was that they want to hear more directly from parents about their relationship with their children, their children's personality and...

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Celebrating Children's Birthdays

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 9:31 PM

Recently I worked with a number of child and teen clients who were getting ready to celebrate their birthdays. We all know that birthdays are very important to children of all ages! However, what I heard from these children and teens was quite the opposite:

"This is my birthday...

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The Black Hole

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 6:04 PM

Have you ever been in a black hole? By that I mean, feeling so empty, so alone, so sad, so at a loss? There is light at the end of the tunnel and a reason to work yourself through the hole rather than trying to jump over it.

Most of...

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(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2013 | 5:44 PM

If you haven't seen the movie What Maisie Knew, I highly recommend that you do. It is a beautiful study of childhood as well as a young child going through divorce. When I went to this movie, I did not know that it was about divorce with a focus on...

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A Tribute to Teens and an Invitation to Adults

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2013 | 1:30 PM

Our country has been through yet another tragedy. Whether caused by an individual who is mentally ill or individuals who are trained to hate, the loss of life and maiming of innocent children, teens and adults is a trauma that many of us who are older, never had to deal...

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Adolescence And Divorce: Helping Families And Teens Cope

(15) Comments | Posted March 2, 2013 | 2:31 PM

Divorced parents of teens often wonder if their children's behavior and family relationship challenges are due to simply being a teen or due to the separation or divorce. A simple answer is that it may be both. A more honest answer suggests that it will depend on both the parent...

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Holiday Gifts for Children

(3) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 12:15 PM

I have worked with many divorced families on schedules over the holidays. There are as many different ways to celebrate the holidays as there are families and there are as many conflicts about how to "divide" the holidays as well. The most meaningful gift you can give your children is...

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A Young Adult's Reflections About Her Parents' Divorce

(6) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 1:25 PM

The peer counselors at the non-profit center I direct, the National Family Resiliency Center in Columbia and Rockville, Maryland, are outstanding human beings. Ranging in age from 6-years-old through adulthood, these children, youth and adults have experienced a family transition and are trained by NFRC staff to reach...

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A Gift From A Parent To A Child

(8) Comments | Posted June 19, 2012 | 1:10 PM

This is the time of year when children, teens and young adults have much to celebrate. They have completed another school year, some are graduating, others are getting married, starting a new career and perhaps moving. Whether it is a preschool or college graduation, every child needs the affirmation and...

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How To Parent A Teen Post-Split

(2) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 12:41 PM

Raising a teen post separation can be challenging. The following tips will help make being a single parent to teens easier.

1. Catch them when you can! Teens are filled with energy and activities and are usually on the run. A concise, five-minute discussion can be more meaningful than...

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How To Handle The Holidays Post-Split

(7) Comments | Posted December 23, 2011 | 12:52 PM

One of the most painful tasks for parents who are in the middle of a divorce or family transition is facing the upcoming holidays. From how to spend the holiday, how to communicate with the child's other parent, to making decisions about finances and being stressed about time, holidays post-divorce...

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