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Sylvie Chapdelaine- Team Montreal, Team 2, Quarter 1


Going through a divorce is never easy, but as Sylvie Chapdelaine found out, it was even harder for her seven year old son, Francois-Xavier. Constantly bouncing between his parents’ homes was difficult for him. He felt caught in the middle and pressured to choose one parent over the other. Francois didn’t want to hurt either one and was afraid to express his feelings. Sylvie felt as though she was losing her son.  He was no longer happy and had become withdrawn. 


Fast forward to today. Francois-Xavier is a fully self-expressed child, full of life and love. How did this dramatic change happen?  It all started with Sylvie’s commitment to her son and the knowledge she learned through Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program. Sylvie had a vision of sharing love, freedom, and wonder authentically with her son, and inspiring other families going through similar circumstances to create the same for themselves. She was excited about the notion of families where the children of divorced parents could freely express their feelings. Out of this dream, she created her Game in the World, Freedom of Choice for Children. The game itself was to design a cookbook for her son, Francois-Xavier. But this wasn’t just any cookbook. It was one with a special ingredient, Francois-Xavier.


Rather than creating a cookbook for her son, Sylvie empowered Francois-Xavier to create a team to make the cookbook.  She discovered that at seven years of age, Francois- Xavier was a true leader.  He inspired his team to complete every task of the cookbook –from selecting the recipes to designing the vision for the artwork to developing the stories about the recipes. His cousins picked out the recipes, his grandmother wrote the stories, and his uncle developed a family website so they could track the progress of the book. They are having so much fun that they want to create more books and short stories together in the future.


In the last three months, Francois-Xavier has completely transformed.  He is now able to freely express himself. He feels loved by his entire family and no longer feels the need to choose between his parents.  Sylvie knows that when Francois-Xavier is older and reflects on this period of his life, he will remember how much fun he had creating this cookbook with his family and the freedom and self-assurance it brought him. 


With the cookbook in the process of being completed in August, Sylvie, her son, and the entire family wants to be a model for families caught up in divorce. They are committed that all children from divorced families are able to be fully self-expressed just like Francois-Xavier.  They want every child to have the Freedom of Choice; the freedom to rise above the circumstances of divorce and create their own future. 


Sylvie recognizes that she could not have done this alone.  She acknowledges Team Montreal for supporting her and giving her the strength and courage to keep the possibility she created for her son alive at all times.  Through the Team Management and Leadership Program, Sylvie has learned to stay powerful, fully self expressed and at ease; even during the times she could not physically be with her son. Through the game she created, Sylvie and Francois-Xavier have created a relationship full of fun, laughter, and most importantly, love.