Divorce & Children 21 Dec 2011  1 Comment

Divorce & Children

Separation and divorce cast parents and children into a dramatic life change situation. The We now becomes you and I, and the idea of a routine day, suddenly becomes clouded with uncertainty and the unknown. The whole is broken down into separate parts and the parts appear not to fit together anymore. Terms like custody, joint visitation and co-parenting become part of a new vocabulary and the idea of a parenting plan, seems to replace the sense of family.

It is difficult for parents and children to try and initially figure out whether the idea of co-parenting or shared parenting is going to work. Some parents find it easy to act in the best interest of the child, while others still harbor feelings of hurt and resentment, and nurse their wounds by remaining angry.

Post divorce relationships and the reshuffling of a predictable routine take time to evolve. Honoring a parenting plan may be influenced by the degree of flexability in the plan, the actual participation by the non-custodial parent, realistic joint decision making and the actual perceptions of what was compared to what is. Getting through the post divorce process can further be complicated by the domestic abuse history and the continuation of drug and/or alcohol abuse by one or both parents. External environmental factors, such as income changes, mother’s employment status, school and peer changes and parenting skill levels, can further impact how the children deal with divorce.

The Internet offers a wealth of advice and information on how to successfully deal with anxious and confused children. It offers tips on successful co-parenting. Yet, all the information and data can be overwhelming and time constraints may limit the parents’ ability to sort through relevant articles. This website will attempt to make suggestions, from time to time, on articles that may be helpful in improving the parents’ understanding of a particular concern. Several we would like to recommend are:

1. mediate.com and the article is titled, Psychological and Emotional aspects of divorce. It covers divorce effects on children, emotional stages of divorce, typical reactions of children to divorce and signs of stress in children.

2. In Positive Parenting through Divorce on divorcenet.com, changes are discussed and the recommendations are: “to minimize stress on your children and ultimately on yourself, try keeping your lifestyle close to what it was prior to the divorce. If possible, they go on, keep friends, family, school and other community support systems stable. When changes are necessary, make sure you give your children ample notice about them.”

Divorcenets.com has a checklist for a stable home environment and also offers six keys to successful co-parenting:

1. putting aside negative feelings, since how you feel is less important than how you act toward your ex,

2. respect each others need for privacy and share only things pertaining to the children,

3. Each parent’s time with the child is sacred and pre-arranged schedules should be honored,

4. Each parent has the right to develop their own parenting style, as long as no harm is being done,

5. acknowledge that both of you have good qualities to offer the children and

6. acknowledge uncomfortable and awkward feelings about these new ways of relating, but keep affirming your commitment to the new relationship.

Effective co-parenting often grows over time and can take a period of months or even years to evolve effectively. The ability to move on with your life and disengage in a past reality can be assisted by professionals and parenting education programs.

About the Author

Mel Kaufman

Mel Kaufman has been in the healthcare field for over thirty years, as a clinician, administrator and consultant in mental health. The article was written as an educational reference, regarding divorce.

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