I am somewhat of an expert on this topic
. You see, I've been married and divorced 3 times and then married again. I have finally
learned after a very intensive study - six years of study - why my statements above are true. Being the hostess
of this site and of the entire emotional feelings network of 28+ sites - I'm
seriously trying to stress the importance of this topic to you because after all - if it's not family dysfunction that we're all recovering from in one way or another - what could it be? It's what happens to us from the moment we're born - throughout the first
three years of our lives that writes in stone our personality, our temperaments and the basis for who we are for the rest
of our lives.
That is why a website concerning children - this one - was found to be
essential for those in a personal growth recovery journey. If you're not in such a journey now - you will be after your divorce and then you'll find yourself as I was
- learning how to re-parent my adult children - resolving all the unresolved issues that were caused by my mistakes in the past and resulted in their painful issues of the present. I used to brag that
my children were the most "well adjusted children of divorce" I had ever encountered. What
a line of bull crap that was! I know now that I was mentally ill if that's what I was thinking back then.
It was about the time I began to study the importance of what happens to us as human beings in our family of origin that I added this website to the network. It's been a slow
journey here. It's difficult for me to write about my children and the mistakes I made in parenting them. It was also at that time - I had been going back through my past to deal with my own personal issues with my parents
that I began to see very clearly the connections between the generations. If I go back three generations, as I did when I was trying to find a name for my second son,
Preston; it was clear that there was marital dysfunction, children being abused, wives being beaten, alcohol being consumed
and much more than that.
The lifetimes were much shorter back then. If it hadn't been for natural
disasters and the lack of modern medicine things would have been much the same as they are in today's society. There would
have been more divorces. I believe that my grandmother's generation might have been
the generation to be married the longest than any other generation in America or even in the world. My own grandmother on
my mother's side was married for sixty-two years. Of course, she married at age fifteen and lived into her early eighties,
but still... sixty-two years is a very long commitment, wouldn't you say?
What I found out is
that marriages didn't last as long as they could have because people died more often. Wives or husbands were killed
in floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters because they didn't have the resources and technologies we have today. Then
there were re-marriages. There were more young widowers back in the day. Another thing that happened more often in the past
was that more women died during childbirth. More mothers died from illnesses or injuries. Dad's died more often and so the
story goes. People got remarried and had more kids and then it would all happen again sometimes if they had really bad luck.
That all makes sense to me. How about you? Have you ever thought about it before? Then came my grandmother's time. Marriage was a commitment. Religion was important to more people than not. Marriage was sacred. How dare you get a divorce?
That's how it was. People stayed together because of religion and social mores. Traditions and cultures and religions held
people together through addictions, infidelity and domestic violence. Child abuse, neglect and whatever the bread winner wanted
happened. The wife was forced to make due. The kids kept their mouths shut. Men and women would rather run off, abandon their
family than to get a divorce. It's the truth. Again, sixty two years my grandparents were
Then came the baby boomer generation. My mother and father were expected
to do what was expected of all young sweethearts through high school. After graduation from high school, it was expected that
women would marry their high school sweetie. He - the sweetie - would enlist into the military. It was the honorable thing
to do. Some sweeties escaped the military service and went to college, thus the upper middle class - but still there were
societal and religious expectations that must be fulfilled no matter what.
The parents of this new - generation of expectations - were
suffering silently. My own grandmothers, on both sides, were victim wives of domestic violence. There have been cases of alcoholism
in sons that were raised in homes that were dry in my family. There were also alcoholics on the other side of the fence -
like father like daughter. My grandparents each had their own coping mechanisms just as we all do today. My grandmother forced
my grandfather to stop hurting her physically, but could never get him to quit belittling her. My grandmother's generation
was the first to take Valium before they realized how addictive it was. "Little nerve pills" my grandmother called them. She
lived on them for many years. It quieted my grandfather's intimidations and humiliations.
Don't get me wrong, there's real history going on throughout this whole
timeline. McCarthyism - The Depression - not in any particular order - but it all was based on money - society - religion
and cultures that were carried over by the many immigrants that came to this country. There were traditions that needed to be adhered to from "the old country." My own great grandfather on my mother's side only spoke Czech. I can remember him
well. I could never understand him, but he was a nice man - or so it seemed.
You can also bet that I'm mentioning right here that human beings aren't
born with a manual of instructions on how to raise them. It's been pretty much trial and error. I'm a member of the largest
generation ever recorded, the baby boomer generation. It was our generation that was raised in a consistent manner. It was a strict - fully coded - demanding rule book that was being used. Straight laced and always looking good -
thank you Mr. McCarthy - our parents had to look a certain way and so did their children. They could get in big trouble if
things weren't just so. It didn't matter what they wanted to do - it was expected of them to raise their children in a certain
way and they did what they were told.
Until... the sixties came around. Stop the world and get off in the sixties!
Divorce. The big "D" they used to call it! Seriously!! Can you remember hearing your parents
and their friends talking about it? Mr. so and so was getting the "big D" and so he was available for dating now. Mrs. so
and so was getting the house and Mr. so and so had to go get a new "bachelor pad!" It's true. There became a new way to communicate and it included "divorce lingo!" I'm absolutely serious that
it was the popular thing to do - get divorced. It was okay because there was - "free
sex," "woman's liberation," and an acceptance of divorce.
Somewhere along the way,
things went seriously and drastically wrong with parenting, biblical institutions, consciences, and many other things. I've
seen it all. It's taken me six years to come to the understanding that I have, but I am so grateful that somehow I made it to where I am now. Recovery and personal growth are two very important journeys to make in ones' life. It's possible for each person that reaches this page to make positive progress towards the same understanding that I've achieved; but it's hard work and I can't guarantee how long it will take you - because we're all unique - to make
the journey to where I am today.
Hindsight is precious if you acquire the wisdom you can find, like tiny bits of lost treasure within it. It's time that each individual on this earth stop whatever it is
they're pursuing to sit down and reflect, smell the coffee brewing in your own personal coffeemaker and do something about
it this time. Find out what you need to know to make things right in your life.
I've counseled with some very wonderful people who were on the verge of divorce. I've told my own children what I would do if I had the power to live my life over again. And I will tell you all the same thing right now. Unless you are about to kill or be killed in
your marriage relationship - stay with it. I don't care if you've met someone else and you think you're madly in love with that person. You're not, I'll clue you in right now! You're simply choosing to escape your present responsibilities
without any pain associated to it. It won't happen. You must sit down with your spouse and do some self evaluation. Most people
evaluate each other's performance in the relationship. It's not what needs to be done. What needs to be done is SELF evaluation.
I mentioned above that I've told my own adult children what I would do
if I could live my life over. I told them that after seeing the damage that has been done to my children, perhaps the most
important people in my life - the ones I actually know that I love the most - I would have stayed in my first marriage and made the
most of it - no matter what. I was unhappy, yes, but if I had stayed and pulled myself together to self evaluate instead of blaming him for everything that went wrong - I would have moved forward in a positive direction.
The simple fact that I would humble myself to self evaluate and take on the responsibility of personal growth instead of pushing all the blame on my partner would have been the simple difference that needed to be
made in my marriage for the good. It would have survived. It just takes one of the two to take on a self evaluation and find
out what needs to be done to ones' self in order for the marriage to work.
Positive energy pulls more positive energy towards it. Get it. If bees love honey - then you bring honey. If a wife is unhappy,
she must not wait for her husband to make her happy. She must look within and make herself happy. You haven't tried everything that could be tried to save your marriage if you haven't looked inward first. Not only do you
have to look inward - you must make good changes in your self. These changes will draw out changes in your partner for the good. You will find each other holding hands in the flow of
change and you will respect each others' changes and things will eventually work out.
Not only will your marriage work out, but you will show your children
the right way to be committed, to love themselves, and to nurture other people in a loving manner. Your children will thrive in this relationship and I
can say that several people have listened to my theory and have tried it and have been successful. There have been zero failures.
This is what this entire world
needs. It needs people to look inward in any way they find possible for themselves. It's time to change things. Change
needs to things in order to be successful. First there must be education. Without education change would be blind. People
must know what I have learned throughout my six years in my own personal growth recovery journey to move in a positive direction.
They must see the importance of some very simple and positive concepts. Once there is enough education - there is understanding.
Understanding is needed
in order for there to be confidence, persistence and determination for action to be taken to make the needed changes. One must find their own SELF for the first
time in their lives and nurture their own self to find out what is genuinely needed to satisfy one's own needs. One must love their own self before loving others. One must be honest with ones' self before being honest with others. And be sure - once this happens the TRUTH will set you free.
I guarantee you that our children are looking towards their only role
models in their lives - their parents - to see them make the changes that are needed for well being and happiness. In order
for physical and mental well being to be achieved there is hard work to be done. You are not allowed to quit. You just keep
trying no matter what. You carry along with you the only four letter words you need to know and those are LOVE and HOPE. Rid
yourselves of all negativity.
Before closing I must say this. I listened to the excitement in my daughter's voice, my oldest daughter's voice, when she told me the story of being a witness to two people who were
drug addict parents that she had known from high school. She said that they were both unfaithful to each other and they were
locked in a battle with drugs and alcohol. There were two children born into this train wreck of a relationship.They had come
to an easy decision to divorce. My daughter had seen the two beautiful children and thought of her own childhood when her parents had divorced when she was the same age as one of these two children.
Her memories, vague and miserable, of the divorce that took place that changed her life forever were so painful that
she felt she must reach out to these two parents. Remembering what I had told her after a few years into my personal
growth recovery journey about what I would do if I had it to do all over again, she told them what I had said.
She told them of her suffering. She told them that her step mother had
kicked her out of her father's house when she was only a junior in high school. She couldn't rely on her mother because
her mother was in an abusive relationship with yet another abusive husband. It was horrible. She had no one to turn to. There were so many things to say, but she just told them that her
adult life had suffered as well, trying to figure things out for herself and to look within to change what needed to be changed.
She made the important factors very clear and she told them that if she had the good fortune to have both parents that had raised her - none
of this would have happened. She had wished that her whole life.
My daughter's sincerity touched the couple. They thought
about what she had said and they made a new commitment to their own selves and to each other. They made the ultimate commitment to their children to stay together and fix everything. Truth be told - they did it. They beat their addictions, they became educated on how to love themselves and to love each other
and their children. Parenting classes, joining a church and even getting full time jobs after learning new skills - they pulled
it together. They are all truly happy still, five years later. And the most joyful thing is - they're not the only two misfits that got their acts together!! It's happened to others and they're ever so grateful
that someone took the time to tell them the TRUTH.
Do not get a divorce. Suck it up and do what
is required of you to make a positive change. Change the world. Change history. Change yourself. Change. If there's one thing
that I can tell you is the absolute truth - it would be that in life there is always change. Please listen to me and listen to the people that you are the most responsible for - your children. Be able to look at yourself in the mirror everyday.
Be proud of yourself for once. Find acceptance for who you are. Learn how to love yourself and take care of what you need
to be a complete and whole person. Use your talents and use your talents to fulfill your passions. Be who you were meant to
be when you were born before anything bad happened in your life. Be that innocent and hopeful child again.
I implore you. Make a change - don't get a divorce. Divorce isn't positive -
only move in positive directions!
Protecting Children from the Negative Impact of Divorce - By Anne Wolski
Anyone who has been
through the rigors of divorce knows how emotionally and physically difficult a time it can
be. Often, we forget about the effect it is having on the children who can sometimes believe that they are somehow to blame. It is important for the children to receive appropriate help during this stressful time and to be assured that they are not at fault and that both parents still love them very much.
As hard as it may be at the time, both parents need to be civil toward one another and work out an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children while still allowing
the parents to meet their own needs as well. It is far better to do this yourselves than to put everyone through the distress of a court and having an arbitrary decision made for you.
This is a time when both parents
need to work together to help the children. Even if one parent fails to honor their commitment to help the children, the other parent still needs to do the best they can to be responsible in this situation.
You should not keep the divorce a secret
from the children. You need to tell them when you make your decision and what is going to happen. Try to give them at least a little bit of notice before
the parent moves out so that the child can have the time to deal with it and ask questions. Reassure the child that both parents
are still going to be there for them and that nothing has changed in that sense.
Avoid playing the blame game when talking to the children. Putting the other parent down leads to insecurity on the part of the children. They need to know that both parents are still able to be trusted and depended upon. Let them know that it was a mutual decision and that you both did your best to avoid this ending.
Make your child aware that they are not going to be able to get the both of you back together. Tell them that there is nothing that they can do to make the situation go away. Also
make it clear to them where they are going to live and that they can see the other parent any time they want to. You can tell
them that there may be some changes in that later on, but it is not going to affect their relationship. Give them the opportunity to ask you any questions that
they may have for you both.
An important factor is your reactions in front of the children. It’s easy to display negative emotions when facing divorce but the children can do without the extra upset. They need to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that both parents love them and don’t want to upset them in any way.
You should never fight with
the other parent in front of the children. This will be very disturbing to the children and may cause them to be fearful of what may happen in the future. You should not speak badly about the other parent either. You have to be very careful not to call the other parent names or talk negatively about anything that they have done.
Never keep the children away from the other parent
unless they are in danger of anything. You should let the children see the parent when they feel the need to. Let them know that they can call them anytime and you will be happy to drive them to see you’re soon to ex spouse’s residence any time that they want.
Never forget your responsibility to the children. To continue to be a good parent, even if you do not have custody, means communicating with them. Despite the fact that divorce can be very traumatic for parents, you need to keep up your strength for the sake of the children.
Don’t shower them with money
and gifts but give them your time. That is the most important thing at this time. Don’t make promises if you can’t keep them and never, never abandon them, either physically or emotionally.
If you think that the child needs to have therapy, you should make the necessary arrangements. If they need to talk to a professional let them, as this is going to help a child in the long run. It is crucial to the children to be
able to discuss their feelings and to be reassured that they have nothing to worry about concerning the divorce. It is
nothing to be ashamed of and the child should be made to feel comfortable about all that is going on around them.
Anne Wolski has worked in the health &
welfare industry for more than 30 years. She is the owner of http://www.mummansun.com, a discount retail outlet & a co-director
of http://www.betterhealthshoppe.com which is an information portal with many interesting medical articles. She is also an
associate of http://www.timzbiz.com which features many articles on internet marketing & resources.
How to Tell Your Children About Divorce
- By Jean Mahserjian: see bio below article
Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, when and how to tell your children can be a difficult issue.
Your children may already know that there are difficulties in your home life and marriage, but you may be surprised at the
level of their sophistication and knowledge about divorce. Even if they are relieved to hear that a difficult home life is about to change, do not ever underestimate the degree to which your divorce can impact your children. The
adults are not alone in feeling the stress and hurt of a strained family situation. You must take special steps to insulate your children and help them through the divorce process.
There is not one simple outline that
provides all of the right answers and information on how to guide your children through the divorce
process. When and how to tell your children about the divorce will depend upon your individual
family dynamics, the maturity of your children, the ages of your children, the conflict level in your house, and your own individual preferences. If you are unsure of how to present this issue, it is a good idea
to obtain professional help to do so. Many counselors are well versed in addressing divorce issues with children and they are available to guide you through this process with your children.
The type of divorce
situation presenting itself in your family will have some impact on how and when you present this issue to your
children. If you and your spouse are amicable, and your divorce is low stress, your children may not even be aware of the possibility of a break up.
While that means
that the divorce conflict has not impacted upon the children as of yet, it does not mean that it will not. Your children might be even more affected
by the news that you are divorcing if they were unaware that there were problems in your
marriage. If you or your spouse has been working with a counselor, either together or separately, that counselor can lay out some simple strategies on how to tell the children.
that you want to discuss with the counselor is whether you tell the children together or separately and what information you can or should give the children about what
their living arrangements will be in the future.
It is never acceptable to disclose that you and your spouse are getting a divorce when you are in the middle
of a conflict. To place blame on your spouse, or to provide information in a way that conveys blame or fault may make you feel better in the short run. In the long run it will hurt your children, and it will impact your long
term relationship with the children's other parent. Also, courts frown on providing children with adult level information
and details about your divorce. Do so and you risk hurting your legal case, if your divorce
will be presented to a judge.
Most counselors will support a joint parental communication to the children about the pending divorce. However, a joint discussion about divorce with the children does require that you and your spouse be able to maintain a basic level of civility, if for no other reason than to maintain your children's peace of mind. If you and
your spouse cannot be civil, do not attempt to discuss this issue together with the children.
If your marriage has been rife with conflict, your children may be aware of or even welcoming the relief of a parental separation and/or divorce. Do not be surprised if you find out that your
children know more than you thought, even if you have been attempting to conceal the conflict from them.
The issues that your children want to be reassured about involve where
they will live, where they will go to school, whether their activities and daily lives will be disrupted, and the degree to
which they will be able to maintain their relationship with each parent. Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable and sensitive to disruption in
their lives and schedules.
If you are able to work out a parenting schedule with your spouse, it is acceptable to share that with the children to reassure them. It also can be acceptable to involve the children in the process of setting a schedule. However, that issue can be very delicate. You do not want children
dictating to the adults and you do not want the children to have limited contact with either parent.
Above all else, do not discuss marital fault issues or the reason for the divorce with your children. Even if
you think that your spouse is the worse miscreant on the planet, that spouse is your children's parent. Your children want
to and are entitled to love both parents. That a spouse cannot make a marriage work does not dispossess them of the right
to be a parent. More important, it does not dispossess the children of the right to love that parent and have a relationship
with the parent.
Consider that you may have a range of reactions from your children
about the pending divorce. They may not be surprised. Or, they could be upset and shocked.
In many cases, even when they are not surprised, the children might be angry or blame themselves. Work with a professional to address all of these emotional reactions. Your children will adjust to your divorce, if you provide the proper guidance and assistance during that process.
Jean Mahserjian is an attorney and the author of numerous websites and books devoted to helping
consumers through the process of divorce. To download free excerpts from her divorce and custody books, visit: http://www.millenniumdivorce.com
Healing Families of Divorce: Top
10 Ways To Stop The Conflict & Put Your Children First - By Amy Barnes
1. Put your children first.
Your child isn't a confidant. Your child isn't a friend. You're the adult & your child needs to be a child. Your child is NOT responsible for you.
Children of single parents
tend to grow up way too fast. Remember your child is a child. Do you know your child's feelings, friends, fears & dreams?
2. Acknowledge the marriage is over & move on.
Join a divorce recovery support group & do your part in the work of healing from divorce. Time alone doesn't heal.
Many churches sponsor divorce recovery groups. Call your church or join us at St. Luke’s UMC for Divorce recovery groups & Solo Flight (a single parent support group that meets the first Wednesday
of each month).
3. Learn your part in the conflict & stop doing it.
Don’t fight in front of your children.
Ask for help. Be responsible for managing your own anger. I see many people who are in the process of or recently divorced & hurt who ask for help dealing with their sadness & anger & pain.
4. Treat you ex at least
as well as you would a business partner.
Recognize that your ex is now your lifetime business partner in the business of rearing emotionally healthy & well adjusted children.
5. Don't use your kids as weapons or pawns.
Don't put your kids in the middle. i.e., don't ask your children to carry messages or keep secrets
or tell lies. Don’t fight in front of the children. The harm that you do your kids from you anger & bitterness can last a lifetime. Fighting between parents is the #1 cause of adjustment & emotional problems in children.
6. Set clear boundaries.
What are you willing & not willing to do? Be clear with your ex. Also
be particularly clear with your adult children who may be particularly vulnerable to being put in the middle of their parents fighting.
7. Children thrive best with 2 loving parents.
Consider custody arrangements that are flexible & in the best
interest of your children. Although more difficult for parents some form of joint custody is often best for the children involved;
i.e. – always offer your spouse an opportunity to “babysit” if you must be away from your children during
8. Your child needs you!
The #1 request I get from children of all ages is more quality time
with each parent. Your child needs the freedom to call, email, spend time with & most of all love both parents. Create positive memories for your child be spending quality time with her each week.
9. Do you like yourself?
If you're happy with your own life you're less likely to focus on problems with your ex. If you're satisfied with the relationship you have with your children you'll be less upset or jealous by the relationship your ex has with your children.
10. Seek peace instead of revenge.
Give up your right to get even. What does your faith say about forgiveness? Is this useful to you? Pray for your ex. Wish you ex well. Focus on his or her good qualities. Also share those qualities
with your children
Note: If you feel that the conflict is becoming severe or in any way damaging to the children please seek help.
Making Visitation Easier For The Kids - By Jonathan Brown
Switching between Mom's
house & Dad's house can be difficult & stressful for children, but the manner that parents approach transition times can have a big impact on how children react.
It's important for parents to realize that children have worries, concerns, hopes & fears about the divorce or separation & times of visitation can often bring a lot of those concerns to the surface, especially if there's conflict between parents.
Research very clearly shows that the amount of conflict that children are exposed to before, during & after the divorce determines how well children will adjust to the divorce.
If the conflict continues or gets worse during visitation times, or any other time, children are more likely to have emotional &
Children that see
parents being civil & respectful of each other are more likely to feel loved, secure & safe & are less likely to have ongoing emotional or behavioral problems.
There are some
strategies that parents can use to make visitation easier for children. Remember that the more strategies you use,
the more beneficial it'll be to your children.
1. Speak positively about the other parent & the time that children will spend with the other parent. i.e., " I know that you're going
to have a great weekend with your Dad because he has special plans," is much more positive than - "I know you don't want
to go, but the court papers say you have too."
In the first sample
the child is clearly hearing that you know Dad is a fun person to be with & has spent some time planning a great weekend.
2. Have the child ready
to go on time & be on time to pick-up the child or children. If you need the children to have a particular item,
make sure you tell the other parent so they can be ready, rather than scrambling around at the last minute.
3. Avoid discussing any sensitive topics during the pick-up or drop-off of the kids. Make it short & positive & don't be tempted to discuss problems or concerns at this time.
this is a tough time for the children & parent conflict or emotional tension will just make it worse.
4. Keep basic supplies
at both houses. Avoid having to pack a suitcase for the children, rather have socks, underwear, pj's, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, brushes
& other personal items at both houses.
This helps children
understand that they have two homes, not just one home & a place to visit.
5. Avoid using the term "visitation" or "access" with your children. This is a court term, not a child-friendly phrase. Try
saying "This is your weekend to spend time with Mom" rather than "This is Mom's visitation time".
6. Let the children know that they can call you to say goodnight or
just to talk. Avoid calling over to the other parent's house as this can be seen as a sign of distrust.
Rather allow the kids
to call you, or perhaps arrange a time that you can phone over to say goodnight if the children are too young to use
Children love to spend time with both parents & making visitation easier on the kids is one way that parents
can begin to work together in their role as coparents to the children.
The parental alliance following divorce: An overview By Mary F. Whiteside
The empirical literature on
the postdivorce parental alliance was reviewed with a focus on implications for clinical interventions by family therapists.
Variables of cooperation and conflict between parents, individual parenting style, and personal adjustment were significantly interrelated and a range of co-parenting
behaviors related to these variables was documented.
A typology of divorcing
families can be useful in predicting risks for child difficulties and in developing appropriate parenting plans. Clinical
interventions need to be tailored to the unique characteristics and resources of a given family and can speak to multiple
points of the family system.
When parents divorce,
they undergo a volatile and profound personal emotional journey. At the same time they face a fundamental structural change
in their family system. Central to the new family structure is the ongoing parental alliance. This includes parents' new,
independent relationships with the child and new rules and behavior toward each other (Ahrons &
Rodgers, 1987; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992).
Recent research on both married
and divorced families has documented that the quality of the parental alliance affects the
child's adjustment, the parent's self-esteem, and the quality of the parents' nurturing and discipline.
In addition, when parents
separate, their co-parent relationship affects the child's continuing connections to extended families and the parents' ability
to move ahead with their lives and become fully available to subsequent intimate relationships (Ahrons,
1994; Erel & Burman, 1995).
During the divorce
transition, helping professionals can play an important role for parents in framing their thinking about the structure
of the post divorce family, in developing strategies for meeting their continuing parental responsibilities, and in increasing
their awareness of the impact of their actions on the health of their children.
Less helpful interventions
increase emotional distance from important relatives and escalate the deterioration of the parental relationship. More helpful
interventions facilitate and support a model of communication, division of labor, and positive parental influence that puts
into place a solid, longterm foundation of family growth.
The focus of this review is
a survey of the current empirical literature on the parental alliance and the implications of this work in clinical interventions
with divorcing families.
Based on her research, Ahrons
(1994) states, "In a good divorce, a family with children remains a family.... The parents
... continue to be responsible for the emotional, economic, and physical needs of their children. The basic foundation is
that ex-spouses develop a parenting partnership, one that is sufficiently cooperative to permit the bonds of kinship with
and through their children-to continue" (p. 3).
This requires former spouses
to acknowledge their joint goals for their children and to develop collective strategies for achieving these goals.
The role changes required
by divorce can be extremely confusing and contradictory. The socialization models based
on the nuclear family do not fit the newly formed binuclear family. The popular expectation is that
divorced partners cannot speak safely to each other; they become "single parents."
The assumption is, if they
could cooperate, why would they divorce? However, a substantial majority of children whose
parents have divorced spend significant time in both households, even if they spend more
time with one parent, and at least half of these parents can maintain a reasonably cooperative alliance (Maccoby & Mnookin,1992).
The only true single-parent families
are those in which there is no contact between parents, and the noncustodial parent has no contact with the child. Just as
married couples have a range of relationship styles, so do former spouses (Ahrons &
Rodgers,1987; Camara & Resnick, 1989; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992; McKinnon & Wallerstein, 1987; Steinman, Zemmelman,
& Knoblauch, 1985).
Usually, the experience of divorce does not lead to dramatic characterological changes in families. Rather, couples display
continuity from pre-separation times to two to three years after divorce, with respect to
the nature of parental conflict, the parents' individual psychological functioning, and their competence as parents (Maccoby &
Mnookin, 1992; Tschann, Johnston, & Wallerstein, 1989).
Therefore, no one model of
the co-parenting alliance fits all families. The clinician's task is to assess the family's current emotional state, interpersonal
skills, and challenges, present a workable goal for constructive post-divorce parenting,
and help the family to envision a manageable path toward that goal.
DEFINITION OF CO-PARENTING
The co-parenting partnership is the complex interpersonal task of adults sharing parenting responsibilities. Joint parenting
is important in marriage, in parenting partnerships by choice, in families where mothers and grandmothers are the primary
caretakers, in step families, and in other configurations.
This review concentrates on
the available research regarding the continuing relationship of the child's two biological parents. (Almost
all the studies were only of heterosexual pairs.)
The terms joint parenting and co-parenting
do not imply a particular legal custodial division or a particular living arrangement.
"Joint custody" and "sole
custody" are legal labels denoting a formalization of parenting responsibilities according to specified judicially approved arrangements. Further types of legal breakdowns in the parenting roles are delineated
in the decision-making function (joint or sole legal custody) and in the
child's schedule (joint or sole physical custody or residence).
The de facto division of parenting responsibilities that actually characterizes each post-divorce family may or may not correspond with the
legal label. As long as the parents share parenting in one form or another, we can speak of joint parenting.
Unfortunately, the legal labels,
residential designation, and parenting tasks are sometimes treated as synonymous in the literature, making interpretation of research results difficult. Although these
variables are correlated (for example, parents who have joint legal custody are more likely
to talk frequently, to share decision-making, and to divide the child's time more equally than parents in a sole custody arrangement),
a range of permutations is possible.
In fact, several studies have
documented that both successful and dysfunctional joint parenting (measured by both cooperation and conflict)
occur across all types of legal and residential arrangements (Kline, Tschann, Johnston, & Wallerstein,
1989; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992; Steinman, Zemmelman, & Knoblauch, 1985).
LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
A continuing criticism of
the research on divorced families has been its overemphasis on dysfunction - an assumption
that divorced families are deficient - and too little exploration of strengths (Ahrons and Rodgers, 1987; Kelly, 1988).
In the past decade researchers
have begun to delineate the positive functions of support, respect, and collaboration (referred to as "cooperation" in this discussion),
as well as the negative functions of unresolved conflict, denigration, avoidance, tension, and attack (referred to as "conflict" in this discussion) (Ahrons & Rodgers,1987; Braver et al.,1993; Camara & Resnick, 1988,1989; Maccoby & Mnookin,
of these characteristics has varied widely across studies. Although some investigators have carefully distinguished successful collaboration on the functional tasks carried out by parents from the emotional quality of the ex-spouses' relationship,
others use a one-item question, such as "How do you and your ex-spouse get along?"
In addition, studies of divorced families vary significantly
in the size and diversity of their samples, and in the source of information (e.g., self-report or observation, information
from one or both parents). Some studies recruit high-conflict families (Johnston & Campbell, 1993; Johnston, Campbell,
& Mayes, 1985); others make significant efforts to obtain a sample representing the broad range of divorcing families
across differences of class, race, and culturel (Braver et al., 1993; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992). Recent studies document
significant differences (on mean scores) between parents in the same family as they report frequency of visitation, degree
of pre- and postdivorce involvement, number of missed visits, conflict behaviors, and amount of interference in visitation
(Ahrons, 1983; Braver et al.,1991; Maccoby and Mnookin,1992; Pearson,1985; Strassberg, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1992).
For example, O'Leary, Franzoni, Brack, and Zirps (1996) found that each parent reported his or her involvement as higher than
the other's. Whereas 88% of divorced parents rated their own parenting abilities as good or excellent, only 42% indicated
that their former spouse had those same qualities. These studies caution us not to place full confidence in studies using
only mothers' reports to study the co-parent alliance and the fatherchild relationship. In addition, the research on married
couples shows that self-report measures of marital satisfaction are related to general stress levels, including job stress
and depression (Katz & Gottman 1993). It is possible that the high stress of the divorce transition is associated with
low ratings of former spouse support. Reports of satisfaction with support may be influenced by the reporter's level of adjustment
and sense of overload as well as by the actual help provided by the former spouse. Although Katz and Gottman (1993) suggest
the importance of using an interactional assessment independent of ratings assigned by the couples, few studies in the divorce
literature have attempted this task. The timing of research data collection also influences the level of tension, conflict,
anxiety, and depression reported by parents. The first two years following separation are a time of personal crisis and family
reorganization, when parents experience a great deal of psychological and economic stress and many children show symptoms
of regression. Conflict between parents is highest at this time. Longitudinal studies find that over the two-year period following
separation the family begins to restabilize and most parents report a decrease in hostility and an increase in cooperation
at follow-up (Hetherington & Camara, 1984; Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1982; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992; Tschann, Johnston,
Kline, & Wallerstein, 1990).
In summary, although the group of studies now available provide
much useful information about the co-parental alliance, any conclusions must be subjected to careful scrutiny: What type of
sample was used, what measures were used to define cooperation or conflict, who was the reporter, and at what point in the
separation process was information collected?
DISTRIBUTION OF COOPERATIVE INTERACTIONS AND CONFLICT WITHIN
THE POPULATION OF DIVORCED FAMILIES The popular expectation is that when parents separate, they will not be able to work together
constructively because of their marital conflict. This is an expectation that needs to be tested empirically. Even though
the studies gathered for this review varied a great deal in sample and method, they provided a beginning estimate of the likelihood
that a divorcing couple will develop a cooperative instead of conflictual postdivorce relationship. In the studies reviewed,
nine studies (15 reports2) included the distribution of families in the study sample in a measure of the overall quality of
the co-parental relationship. To summarize these figures across studies, the reports from each study were tabulated as the
percentages of co-parents in the sample who reported their relationship to be excellent, cooperative, midrange, or conflicted.
Table 1 gives the median and range across these reports. When researchers asked divorced parents questions about the amount
of support, coordination, and conflict between them, 57% (median across reports) rated themselves as having an excellent or
cooperative relationship with their former spouse, 24% described a relationship that includes inadequate support and some
tension, and 20% were embroiled in more intense, ongoing difficulties. Variation across studies in these estimates relates
to sample selection (for example, whether joint custody families are included or excluded, whether the sample is taken randomly
from court records or comprises people answering a newspaper ad) and measure used (a complex assessment of several indicators
or a single question to one partner). Although these summaries provide only a very rough estimate of the true population distribution,
we can conclude that there is reason both for concern about substantial friction between some parents and for the expectation
that a majority of parents can remain supportive of one another following divorce. As will be discussed later, it is essential
that clinicians attend simultaneously to helping couples find ways to manage conflicts constructively, to defining the amount
of physical and psychological separation needed to maintain self-control, and to increasing their positive collaborative behaviors.
It is helpful for families to know that the majority of divorcing spouses report that they continue to cooperate with one
We will discuss the characteristics of cooperation and conflict
separately and then move to the ways in which they affect parenting. Percentages do not add up to 100% because each cell represents
a different set of figures, drawn from different studies. The following studies were included: Ahrons, 1980; Bowman &
Ahrons, 1985; Fishel, 1987; Goldsmith, 1980; Kelly & Gigy, 1989; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992; Machida & Holloway,
1991; Masheter, 1991; Pearson & Thoennes, 1990. Cooperation
Development of a positive co-parenting alliance
is one of the greatest challenges for divorced couples. Although for some families, reduction in conflict may be a necessary
first step, paving the way for an increase in positive support (Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992), a positive parental alliance
is more than simply a low level of conflict. Ahrons' seminal work on the binuclear family and her documentation of positive
and constructive postdivorce parenting partnerships provided a model for healthy family functioning useful to divorcing families
and their therapists (Ahrons, 1980; Ahrons & Miller, 1993; Ahrons & Rodgers, 1987; Ahrons & Wallish, 1987). Key
ingredients to the positive alliance are: (1) conveying respect for the other parent; (2) maintaining constructive communication
about the children, which includes both information exchange and problem-solving; and (3) developing a way of sharing responsibility
for childrearing tasks. These tasks include the everyday caretaking of the children as well as the logistics of children's
movement between households (Ahrons & Rodgers, 1987; Camara & Resnick, 1988, 1989; Kelly, 1988; Maccoby & Mnookin,
Two clinical studies of joint physical
custody with children describe the type of commitment to the children seen in parents who can be described as having excellent co-parenting relationships (McKinnon &Wallerstein, 1987; Steinman, Zemmelman, & Knoblauch, 1985).
Families who are most successful
in co-parenting in a joint custody arrangement are those who believe that harmonious co-parenting is best for the children
and who make it a priority. These parents share a genuine, loving attachment to their children. Those with young children
communicate daily, have excellent daycare, and are willing to synchronize the children's routines across households. They
have relatively good self-esteem, a low level of anger about the divorce, and a capacity
to be rational and to problem-solve in the face of co-parenting challenges.
Furthermore, effective co-parents
may be more likely to believe that the former spouse is a good parent and that the child's relationship with the other parent
is separate and distinct from the ex-spouses' relationship. Research with married families reveals that mutual spousal support
of both the emotional and instrumental variety is associated with better parenting by both mothers and fathers (Belsky,1990; Cowan & Cowan,1988; Easterbrooks & Emde,1988; Gable, Belsky, & Crnic, 1992; Howes
& Markman, 1989).
Harmonious marriages are associated
with sensitive parenting and warm parent-child relations. When mothers are performing a "gatekeeper" role in determining the
father's involvement with the child, their positive support is significant in affecting both the level and the quality of
father's contact (Belsky,Youngblade, Rovine, & Volling,1991; Marsiglio,1991).
In addition, parental personality
characteristics contribute both to good parenting and to a successful marital relationship (Engfer,
Similar correlations are found
in divorced families. Several studies report significant relationships among cooperative
negotiations, frequent communication, high frequency of the noncustodial parent's visitation, and high quality of the mother-child
and father-child relationships (Camara & Resnick, 1988, 1989; Esposito, 1995; Fishel,
1987; Fishel & Scanzoni, 1989; MacKinnon, 1989).
O'Leary, Franzonni, Brach, and Zirps
(1996) report that those who saw themselves as good parents were more likely to see former spouses as good parents. A sense
of well-being correlated with a good relationship with the former spouse, confidence in one's own parenting ability, and satisfaction
with child support arrangements.
Ahrons and Rodgers (1987)
emphasize that although only a small percentage of parents have extremely cooperative and friendly post-divorce
relationships ("perfect pals"), approximately half of divorcing parents manage to be at least "cooperative colleagues."
These couples have frequent
child-oriented communication and are able to attend special occasions together, but might not plan joint activities. They
have some areas of conflict, but either have resolved controversial issues or can successfully avoid them. They can compartmentalize
their relationship and successfully manage anger.
Divorce: The Silent Price - 3 Easy
Tips to Prevent Parental Alienation - By Dr. Charles Sophy
Let's face it
- divorce is hard. For parents, for kids, for families, even for the family pet... divorce is difficult. Yet turn on any TV program and you'll see divorced
parents happily raising their successful children - shows in which every problem can be solved in 30 - 60 minutes - shows in which the child
moves seamlessly between two households and where the parents remain the best of friends and communicate openly while sharing the parenting responsibilities.
Communication and cooperation are supposed to be two-way streets, but things don't always turn out the way they should. Sadly, the majority of marriages end bitterly and it takes many years for both partners to come to terms with the marriage breakdown and stop punishing each other. Often
times, however, those years of communication breakdown affect the children deeply.
It's common in single parent households,
for the custodial parent to develop a deep bond with the child. In households where there are still unresolved issues between
the divorced adults, the connection between custodial parent and child could, directly or indirectly, lead to conflicts with the non-custodial parent.
Let's meet Sam & Amanda
Sam is eight years old. He has an older sister, Amanda, who is twelve years old. Though Sam and Amanda's parents
have just formally divorced, they have been separated for two years.
During the separation period, things appeared to run smoothly. The parents shared the parenting
responsibilities and dad was lucky enough to rent a house a block away from the kids so they spent a lot of time voluntarily
shuttling back and forth between both households. Both parents made the effort to communicate as everyone adjusted to the fact that daddy now slept in a different house.
the divorce was finalized, things changed. Within a month of the divorce, Sam began refusing to visit his father. His sister, Amanda,
would walk him home from school and then walk over to her father's house to spend the evening with him. Three to four nights
a week, she would dine with her father - just as they had during the separation.
didn't understand why her brother didn't want to join her but she was happy to have dad all to herself and her feelings made her feel guilty when she saw Sam at school the next day.
Sam's behavior began to deteriorate.
His school work began slipping and he was exhibiting increasingly aggressive behavior on the school ground and towards his sister.
The nights that Amanda was home
with Sam and their mother, she would attempt to talk to Sam to see if she could coax him into visiting their father. Day after
day, Sam refused. The pattern continued for a month before Amanda approached her mother with her concerns. Her mother refused to validate Amanda's concerns, even stating that it really is best if Sam "stayed away from that man - and so should you. I don't know why you go there
all the time. Aren't we good enough for you?"
Amanda fled from the house crying and
ran straight to her father. He listened to her as she expressed her sadness over the marriage breakdown and the loss of her best friend, her little brother. Dad listened to all her concerns and then they talked about giving Sam a bit more time to adjust to the change.
we've been separated for quite some time, the divorce makes it final. There's no going back
now. I know we've all wished that things would go back to the way they were before but the divorce
puts an end to all those wishes... for all of us.
He's angry and disappointed that all the wishing and hoping he's been doing the last two years didn't fix this." Dad said. "But
it's not his job to fix this" was Amanda's reply. "I know that and you know that... but you have to remember that Sam was
just little when mom and I separated... and he's still a little boy. So go easy on him. Just be there to listen if he wants
to talk and don't push him to visit. He'll come when he's ready."
After six months,
Sam was still refusing to visit his father, and Amanda, faced with pressure from both her brother and mother, decreased her
visitation schedule. As the father lived in the same neighborhood as his children, he would often see them around the neighborhood.
Sam would pretend he didn't see him and run home to his mother.
If they happened
to speak, Sam was incredibly rude and belligerent and Amanda was incredibly sad. Sam clearly had little respect for his father and Amanda was clearly conflicted about her continued love for her father when others in her household appeared to have stopped loving him.
Dad expressed his concerns to Mom who replied “Who cares – what have you done to deserve respect. You’ve abandoned us!” so he turned to external support. Dad arranged for Sam to be referred for counseling by the school. His aggressive behavior had traveled from the playground to the classroom and was disruptive to the other children so the school arranged
for him to meet with a counselor.
The school also arranged for Amanda to meet with the counselor as she was still exhibiting a lot of confusion over the behavior of her brother and mother and was struggling with conflicting feelings for both parents.
Through active discussion with Sam during these sessions,
it was discovered that Mom often shares her anger and bitterness towards Dad with Sam. She makes disparaging remarks about his father and has even started to make comments about Amanda on
the evenings she spent with her father.
Mom was engaging in potential parental alienating behavior with the aim of severing the relationship between her children and their father. Her anger and disappointment in the marriage breakdown were unresolved issues in her life that prevented her from being able to close this chapter of her life and move forward. And Mom may not have even been aware of the result of her discussions.
Together with the counselor, Dad and Sam bridged the gap with open and honest communication and started to counter some of the negative feelings that Sam had inherited from Mom. Amanda was given some coping mechanisms for dealing with her mother’s aggressive behavior and the children resumed a healthy relationship with their father.
Here are a
few tips that divorced parents can use to ensure they do not engage in parental alienating behavior.
1) Resolve: your own feelings about the divorce and life changes.
2) Allow: your children to have a safe space with both parents to communicate their feelings.
3) Never: have your children pay the price for your feelings.
Read another side of divorce: click here to go there now!
Divorce Doesn't Scar Children - Selfish Parents Do
Helping Your Kids Handle Divorce
By Dr. Charles Sophy
Every year over 1 million parents have to talk to their kids about divorce. For each parent, the discussions differ, but the goals of the discussions are universal: to openly & honestly reassure your child of your love.
Divorce is painful & traumatic for all involved – spouses & children
alike. We all happily begin our lives together full of shared hopes & dreams & committed to a lasting & loving relationship. Yet almost 50 % of today’s marriages end in divorce. How parents handle
divorce, however, makes the difference in their children's healthy adjustment or potential maladjustment.
Here’s an example of how to begin talking to your
child about your divorce.
Let’s meet Brad:
Brad is 9 years old & an only child. He’s the apple of his mother’s eye & dad’s best buddy. Brad
is at the top of his class in school & participates in the school band & in the spelling bee.
He’s also an active athlete – playing intramural hockey & soccer
& running competitively. Both of his parents attend all of his sports & school activities.
One day to his surprise Dad takes him out after a soccer game & tells him "I have something sad to tell you. Mom & I are having a hard time & you may have noticed something wasn't right between us & you're
We’re going to live in different houses & you’ll be spending some
of the week with me & some with your Mom. I know this will be difficult for all of us. So we should talk about it openly together & about what we're both feeling."
Discussing divorce with your children is never easy.
Here are some tips to help ease this transition.
1. Communicate with your spouse (partner): Although things haven't worked out in the marriage, the two of you still have children
to raise together.
Be sure you both are in agreement as to the timeline of the change & give your children clear dates & details. The more solid the plan, the less anxiety your child will experience.
2. Use age appropriate language & details: A 5 year-old & 10 year-old understand very different things & have different levels of maturity.
Follow their questioning before offering details. Be honest, but remember what's appropriate for the age of the child or they will not comprehend the situation.
3. Reassurance: Reassure them that they'll continue to
be loved & cared for by the two of you. Let your children know that your love for one another has changed, but that your love for them remains strong & constant.
Reiterate that the divorce isn't their fault.
4. Discretion: Make an agreement
with your spouse to not speak badly about the other spouse to the children. Refrain from arguing in front of the children
& do your best to keep them out of your conflict!
5. Know yourself:
Be aware of your own feelings of hurt or anger. Don't make a child a confidant for the pain the divorce is causing you.
Seek a support group to help you thru this period. Share your feelings with friends & professionals. Children aren't therapists!
Always remember: Strive
to be communicative & honest during & after the divorce process because there will be different degrees of feelings over the event as time goes on. If you're communicating honestly, however, you can never hurt your child.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Charles Sophy
currently serves as Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Dept. of Children & Family Services (DCFS), which is responsible
for the health, safety & welfare of nearly 40,000 foster children. He also has a private psychiatry practice in Beverly
Hills, California. Dr. Sophy has lectured extensively & is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University
of California Los Angeles Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. His lectures & teachings are consistently ranked as among the best
by those in attendance.
Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the “Keep ‘Em Off My Couch” blog, provides real
simple answers for solving life’s biggest problems. He specializes in improving the mental health of children. To contact
Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at http://drsophy.com.
How to Tell If You're Moving on Or Stuck in a Rut
After Your Divorce
By Alyssa Johnson - from Remarriagesuccess.com
Divorce, like a
drop of rain hitting a lake, causes countless ripples of change for everyone involved. Those ripples continue to flow through
your lives for a long time. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to ignore those changes and try to get life back to "comfortable"
This doesn't give you
time to learn from this experience and grow. You need a certain amount of time to reflect on past choices and your
current situation. Once you've done this, then and only then are you ready to move on. What exactly does that mean? Let's
focus on one specific way to know that you're "moving on" today...
You no longer have strong emotions about the divorce
It's typical to
feel very intense feelings during and shortly after a divorce. It's a natural reaction to all of the sudden changes that go
on in your life. Many of you were aware that your marriage was dying. This, in itself causes many feelings. But once the decision
to end that marriage is made, feelings as yet unknown tend to burst through. The way to know those feelings have subsided
usually have to do with how you react to and around your ex-spouse. Let's look at 3 specific changes that should be taking
1. You no longer will
be obsessed with knowing how or what your ex-spouse is doing - It just won't seem as important anymore. You've acknowledged
they are no longer a part of your life. You have your own now and are peaceful about that. Your lives intertwine when it comes
to your children, but that is it.
2. Your interest in your
ex-spouse should be declining - You won't feel the need to bad mouth or think negatively of him/her whenever their
name comes up. Whether you voiced these ideas in the past or not, your knee jerk reaction to them won't be negative anymore.
You may feel sad or hurt because your marriage with this person has ended but the extreme grief or anger has dissipated.
3. And finally, you'll
find that it's a lot easier for you to be civil with your ex-spouse when you need to be - Co-parenting
will be smoother now because those emotions won't be bubbling to the surface contaminating your "business" discussions about
the children. You recognize it's not about you or your pain - it's about helping your children to have a good relationship
with their parent.
If you're not moving,
then you're stuck. It's that simple. Now that you know a piece of the puzzle to moving on, how are you doing? For more resources
to help you in that process, I want to invite you to start getting our Tip of the Week. It is full of great articles
to keep you moving in the right direction. Click here for more information.
Choose Your Parenting Battles Wisely With Your Ex-Spouse
by Alyssa Johnson @ Remarriagesuccess.com
click here to go to the source site now!
Co-parenting can be one of the toughest adjustments
to be made after a divorce. What is co-parenting? Well, it's developing a way that you and your ex-spouse can work together
in parenting your mutual children. Just because you aren't married anymore, doesn't mean you aren't Johnny or Mary's parents.
A great rule of thumb in co-parenting is to remember
that the rules in your separate households do NOT have to be identical. A lot of parents get too caught up in this "battle
of the rules." They just turn it into another marital argument even though they're no longer married.
Accepting the fact that you have no control over
what happens at the other parent's house (outside of blatantly abusive behaviors) is a very difficult concept for many people
to grasp. But, the sooner you do, the better.
Even though you may be furious with your ex-spouse
and justifiably so, it behooves you to learn how to get along when it comes to parenting your children. The only people who
get hurt when you carry these arguments on and on are your children. They become pawns in a never-ending battle for control.
And to be quite blunt - that behavior can mess them up for the rest of their lives.
So, if the rules don't have to be identical, how
do you w work together without confusing a child?
The compromise is to agree on overall parenting themes.
For example, doing well in school is a theme. One
of you may make the rule that the children are to do their homework as soon as they get home from school and then they can
play. The other aren't may disagree with this, and allow the children to play and after dinner work on homework. The main
issue here is not the when. The main issue is that the homework needs to get done and both of you, in this scenario are making
sure that happens.
I encourage you to stop and think before you react
to a rule at your ex-spouse's house. Don't focus so much on it not being how you'd handle it.
Focus on what the overall goal is. Is that goal ultimately
being achieved with the rule your ex-spouse is using. If so, let it go!
tired of living in conflict with your ex-spouse? There's no reason to continue living like this! Learn specific
skills to help you get along better with your ex-spouse so that both of you can co-parent more effectively together.
I invite you to get more information about our latest book.
The Impact of Divorce on Families
by Garrett Coan, the Official Guide to Anxiety
As a licensed mental health professional, I work with many
individuals, couples, and families who are affected by divorce. I see the devastating effects that breakups can have and am
dedicated to helping people develop the skills to cope with experiences like divorce.
decision to divorce causes major changes in the lives of all family members. Some upheaval is inevitable. The main trouble
1. Financial: Money becomes a huge problem for most people. The cost of a divorce is extremely high, and
two households cost more than one.
2. Career: Being less focused at work and spending time away from the job for divorce-related
appointments takes its toll.
3. Logistics: Running your home is more difficult because you no longer have a partner
to help with daily chores.
4. Emotional: Most people have periods of depression, sadness, anger, and fatigue.
People who are experiencing the breakup of their marriage can expect to have a wide variety of feelings.
Some call it "the crazy time" and there is even a book about divorce with this title. The following complaints are common:
Divorce profoundly affects children. In Surviving the Breakup, author Judith Wallerstein
describes the experience of 60 divorcing families. She outlines the following key issues for children of divorcing families:
- Poor concentration
- Sleep problems
- Mood swings
- Feeling tense
- Gaining/losing weight
- Feeling nervous
- Somatic complaints
Fear: Divorce is frightening to children, and they often respond with feelings of anxiety. Children feel more vulnerable after
a divorce because their world has become less reliable.
Fear of abandonment: One-third of the children in Wallerstein's study feared that their mother would abandon them.
Confusion: The children in divorcing families become confused about their relationships with their parents. They see their parents'
relationship fall apart and sometimes conclude that their own relationship with one or both parents could dissolve, as well.
Sadness and yearning: More than half of the children in the Wallerstein study were openly tearful and sad in response to the losses
they experienced. Two-thirds expressed yearning, for example: "We need a daddy. We don't have a daddy."
Worry: In Wallerstein's
study, many children expressed concern about one or both of their parents' ability to cope with their lives. They wondered
if their parents were emotionally stable and able to make it on their own.
Over half of the children expressed deep
worries about their mothers. They witnessed their mothers' mood swings and emotional reactions to the events in the family. Some children worried about suicide and accidents.
Feeling rejected: Many children who experience a parent moving out of the home feel rejected by the parent. The parent is usually preoccupied with problems and pays less attention to the child than in the past. Many
children take this personally and feel rejected and unlovable.
Loneliness: Since both parents are preoccupied with their problems during the divorce process, they are less able to fulfill their parenting
roles with their children. The children may feel like their parents are slipping away from them. If the father has moved away
and the mother has gone off to work, the children often feel profound loneliness.
Divided loyalties: The children may (accurately) perceive that the parents are
in a battle with each other. The children feel pulled in both directions and may resolve the dilemma by siding with one parent
Anger: Children in divorcing families experience more aggression and anger. It is often directed toward the parents, expressed in
tantrums, irritability, resentment, and verbal attacks. Many children see the divorce as a selfish act and feel very resentful about the resulting destruction of their lives.
More than 1/3 of the children in Judith
Wallerstein's study showed acute depressive symptoms such as sleeplessness, restlessness, difficulty in concentrating, deep
sighing, feelings of emptiness, compulsive overeating, and various somatic complaints.
The symptoms that many children may have during the divorce
process either moderate or disappear within 18 months after the breakup. Of the symptoms that remain, the most common are:
Manipulative behavior was reported by about 20% of the teachers of the children in Wallerstein's study.
2. Depression was diagnosed in 25%
of the children and adolescents. The symptoms of depression in children include:
You should consider finding a therapist to work with if most of the time you feel:
For a Free Anxiety Self-Assessment and Self-Improvement Audio Download, click onto http://www.mightyanxiety.com. Garrett Coan is a licensed psychotherapist and expert consultant who has helped countless individuals live happier
and more productive lives