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By: Jennifer A. Crissman, Attorney

As an attorney practicing in family law in the Piedmont, and a mother of two young children, my world can feel very hectic. It is easy to give in to the stressors of the moment, to be overwhelmed and to feel like you do not have control. Whether caring for my children, listening to others discuss their parenting struggles or helping clients prepare for court, a useful activity I have found to manage this stress is practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness can simply be described as being fully aware of your present surroundings, and how it affects your thoughts, feelings, and body. The practice of mindfulness is focusing on the moment you are in, and regaining control. While this is a simple concept, using this technique takes some practice. While in the courtroom or on the witness stand clients will often become agitated, frustrated or emotional over what is transpiring around them. This happens in parenting situations as well. While these emotions are valid, they usually don’t help achieve our goals. While there is a multitude of online resources, below are basic steps for practicing mindfulness.

1) Take a deep breath. While it sounds trivial, a deep breath gets oxygen to your brain, helps to slow an elevated heart rate, and brings your focus to your body. It is a good way to start an inventory of your current physical and emotional state.

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by Leesa Poag, Attorney

As autumn begins to creep across the Triad, it seems that the temperature isn’t the only thing dropping. According to a study done by the University of Maryland, the number of divorces in the United States is also on the decline. And the reason being attributed for the impressive drop, eighteen percent over the past ten years, might surprise you.

Millennials. It’s not a term that’s often meant as a compliment. In fact, it tends to be associated by many with attributes like entitlement and laziness. But this oft-maligned group of twenty and thirty-somethings seems to have figured out how to make marriages work in a way that older generations never seemed to master.

So what exactly are millennials doing differently that’s allowing them to dodge the divorce bullet? One factor that has a major effect is that millennials are waiting until they feel more financially stable before walking down the aisle. Its often said that money is the root of all evil, and it tends to be the root of many divorces as well. Struggling to pay the bills, keep the lights on, and keep food on the table when incomes are limited, or even nonexistent, can cause a tremendous amount of stress, and often this stress can put a major damper on a couples’ wedded bliss. By delaying marriages until they feel they are able to stand on their own feet and live comfortably, millennials are eliminating this major stressor from their marriages.

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by Tina Ray, Legal Assistant

The following represents the personal and respected view of the writer and not the view of Woodruff Family Law Group.

 I am definitely not a political aficionado, nor do I follow politics terribly closely.  However, out of curiosity, I have found myself listening to and reading about the Kavanaugh case.  When I talk to someone about this issue, I feel like I have to really think about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it so that I don’t offend anyone.  With the #metoo movement in full force, anything that anyone says can easily cause offense or be twisted to mean something else whether spoken by a male or female.

By no means, am I condoning the actions of anyone that has assaulted, raped, molested or de-humanized another person.  As a female, I have had my share of unwanted advances, touches, verbal abuse, and completely uncomfortable situations.  In my teenage years, SOME of the boys were way more aggressive than others.  Although a smaller, thinner me, I was very clear about what was crossing the line and I would not hesitate to express my disgust and make it known that I would not put up with anything that I did not consent to.  One Saturday, while my best friend’s boyfriend was waiting for her at my house, I felt uncomfortable to the point of locking myself in the bathroom to get away from him.  Of course, I told my boyfriend about it, and it became a “he said, she said” situation. From that moment on, I avoided him at all costs.   At this point in my life, if this unnamed person was to run for a public office or some high-ranking position, would I tell anyone what happened back in high school?  My situation was not an assault, just an uncomfortable circumstance but could have turned into something much worse.   If he had gone on to be a consummate professional and adult, I’m sure I would not say anything.  Sometimes choices made as a teenager are just bad decisions or choices.  That does not mean that you will be a failure as an adult.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

It’s summertime, and that means kids around Greensboro will be beating the heat. But they probably won’t be hanging out at the pool or lake like their parents did. It’s more likely they will be huddled around their electronic devices playing video games or watching YouTube. The World Health Organization has recently classified addiction to video games as a certified mental disorder. Our children are particularly susceptible during the summer months when they are out of school and have less structured activities.

The signs of video game addiction are disturbingly quite similar to other addictions such as exercise addiction or sex addiction. If your child has difficulty talking or even thinking about anything other than video games, then they might have a problem. The problem is exacerbated by the gaming designers attempting to make their games psychologically addicting purposely. As with drug and alcohol addictions, they may have such a compulsion to play that they let school work lag and their grooming and hygiene begin to suffer.

In the beginning, gamers may be satisfied to play one or two hours at a time; however as they become more addicted, they crave much longer sessions. Some children have to be physically removed from a game console, or they will play continuously. As the addiction worsens they frequently suffer from significant weight gain or weight loss, sleep disruptions, mood changes, sleep deprivation, Avoiding friends and family members. They may begin lying about the time spent playing video games and start skipping meals. Shoddy work and academic performance should also set off alarm bells.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

Divorce is never easy. It turns your world upside down. Ending a relationship you thought was to last till death forces you to part is emotionally devastating. When you are a parent, and throw children into that emotional turmoil, then you have to deal with a hurricane of guilt and remorse.

However, we are parents and parents must be strong, we must be there for our kids when they need us. We won’t be legally able to spend as much time with our children as before the divorce, so what time we have must be devoted to them.

I have two children. My first daughter was 9 when left her mother in 2005. I still feel guilty about choosing to leave the home where my child and I formed that bond that a father and daughter share.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

On Thursday, July 12, Greensboro’s John Isner battled on the green grass of Wimbledon for 6 ½ hours. It was the longest semi-final in the tournament’s storied history. Wimbledon is considered tennis’ most prestigious event, featuring 128 of the worlds best players. Isner blasted his way into the semifinals beating several top players along the way including Greece’s very best up and comer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Canada’s top player, Milos Raonic.

Isner met South African Kevin Anderson in the semifinals for a chance to play in for the ultimate championship in tennis. Isner, a former Page High basketball and tennis star, stands 6’10” tall and was on his way for setting the record for the most aces in Wimbledon history. Anderson was almost as tall at 6’8” and backed up his booming serve with a crushing forehand. Anderson was fresh off a massive upset of the number one seed and arguably the greatest tennis player the world has ever seen in Roger Federer. Both men play power tennis, and on slick grass, that power is often rewarded with aces and groundstroke winners.

With both players being incredible servers, breaking serve would prove extremely difficult. The match predictably started with both players blasting several aces and unreturnable serves. On serve, both men were making contact over 10 feet off the ground and were hitting up to 140mph serves. The first set would see no service breaks as it went to a tie-break. Anderson got the better of Isner winning that tie-break 8 to 6. The first set was desperately close with very little separating the two foes. The tightness of the first set would set foreshadow a long close match.

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

Looking for a new way to organize or connect? Here are some of the best apps for families.

Apps for Organization

Stridepost – This family managing app features chore lists, allowance trackers, and a family calendar, all of which sync across devices so that the whole family’s on the same page. Parents can add tasks to a child’s to-do list, which the child then receives points for completing. At the end of the week, kids get their “payday” and collect the points, which are redeemable for rewards. Both parents and kids can add rewards. Both kids and parents can add events to the shared family calendar, and family members can keep each other updated using the built-in family chat. (For parents: iOS, Android; for kids: iOS, Android)

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

If you have children, you likely have gotten that dreaded call from your child’s teacher. Unfortunately, it’s almost always negative. I am a public school teacher of 87 middle schoolers but I also have two daughters. Therefore, I’ve been on both ends of the call. I have experienced exasperation as both a teacher and a parent. However, I’ve also experienced the unstoppable synergy that occurs when teachers and parents work together to help a student reach their academic potential.

So go to your child’s open house. Meet the teacher, shake hands and show a great deal of interest and enthusiasm in what’s going on in the classroom. Ask lots of questions, make sure you sign up for class newsletters and websites. It’s easier for a teacher to check email than return phone calls, so make sure you have the teacher’s email address and that the teacher has yours. I love all the emails I get from my parents on a weekly basis. I always thank them for their support and listen to their concerns.

About three years ago, I received an old-fashioned letter from a parent. The letter was mailed from one of my student’s home with an actual USPS stamp! In my 15 years of teaching, I’d never received a “snail mail” letter from a parent, so I opened it with great interest. It stated that due to a work conflict she was unable to attend the open house. However, she expressed a great deal of interest in how her daughter could be successful in class. She gave me all her contact information and detailed her daughter’s academic strengths and weaknesses. She expressed a positive attitude toward homework and maintaining a regular line of communication. I’ve decided to copy her idea, and mail my daughter’s teachers because I know that teachers get thousands of emails so handwritten letters stand out.

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

No family wants to suffer the social embarrassment of having the cops called on them. As a former police officer, I discussed domestic violence calls in my last blog. Now, here are three of my tips to prevent that from happening in the first place.

#1: Establish family ground rules for communication

  • Never speak when someone else is talking.
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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

In this blog on communication, I will share what I have learned from my experience, both recovering at Cone hospital and from my time as a Greensboro police officer.

In my last blog, I spoke about Angela, the Assistant Director of the Rehab unit. Communication is vital in rehabilitation. Angela deals with patients who have suffered brain injuries, due to strokes or trauma, and has learned tricks to help her and others more effectively communicate.

She said that when she feels an argument brewing between her and her husband, she applies her experience with brain-damaged patients to curb potential arguments: