Archive for the ‘separation and divorce’ Category

Divorcing or Remarrying? Leave No Rock Unturned for Your Children

August 25th, 2011

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the high divorce rate in the U.S. for first marriages; it’s approximately 50%.  A less well-known fact is that approximately 60-70% of second marriages end in divorce. Divorce, first or second, affects millions of children in the U.S.  And, the negative effects of divorce on children have been well documented in published works, including The Journal of Marriage and the Family and The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. So, how are we doing with checking on the children during these critical turning points in their lives?

According to Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee in What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce, many parents don’t recognize that divorce is a turning point. “They hope that their relationships with their children won’t change very much after divorce.” And, furthermore, “They’ve probably been told by attorneys or therapists that if they behave with civility toward their ex, make a fair financial plan, and allow each child to have good access to both parents, the stress of the divorce will be short-lived.”

According to Wallerstein and Blakeslee, “that’s not the children’s experience.” And, I would argue that it isn’t the case with a remarriage either. Experts report that it takes approximately seven years for a stepfamily to “successfully blend.” And, some even say it takes 12 years. Either way, such transitions do not occur quickly and require a great deal of time and effort. Chances are greater for success if you don’t just let things happen while you are on autopilot.

In other words, be proactive when it comes to your child’s mental and emotional health during divorce and/or remarriage. I often hear about adults seeking assistance for their children after a problem occurs; e.g., a decline in grades, behavioral issues, depression, etc.  Wallerstein and Blakeslee urge parents to be aware that the kids have an entirely different take on things compared to the parents. And, they point out that the kids’ feelings can last well into adulthood.

A great way to begin being proactive is to seek out resources that deal with divorce and/or remarriage. There are some very helpful and insightful books that have been written, such as The Secrets to Stepfamily Success: Revolutionary Tools to Create a Blended Family of Support and Respect by Gloria Lintermans. She sheds light on common stepfamily myths in areas such as loyalty issues, discipline, incomplete grief, and explains how for children, “the transition from one family structure to another, and another, creates a long period of upheaval and stress.”

More importantly, Lintermans’ book and others can open your eyes to the issues they may be bothering your children whether you know it or not. Once you are aware of all of the potential challenges that divorce and/or remarriage can pose for your children, one of the most important things to do is to help your child connect and communicate. Be proactive!

Why not seek the assistance of a professional therapist who has experience with working with stepfamilies before someone in your family faces problems? Why not join a divorce or stepfamily support group if that is the lifestyle you are embracing? Why not talk to people who have successfully navigated through divorce and remarriage journeys?

Staying focused on your children and anticipating what to expect when you divorce or remarry with children is a healthy thing. You anticipate their needs daily in many ways to ensure they have happy and successful lives by way of check-ups with their doctors and dentists, back-to-school teacher conferences, sports practices, and more. Why not be prepared and help them through the big changes in your life that impact them tremendously as well?

About Paula

Paula Bisacre is publisher of www.RemarriageWorks.com, the go-to resource for remarriage and stepfamily living. She is the founder of Remarriage LLC, a multimedia company that provides information, community, and products that enhance the experience of remarriage and stepfamily living. As a trusted expert and advocate, Paula frequently speaks, writes and consults about stepfamily issues and was the creator of the monthly remarriage column in The Washington Times. She has also authored the book, Journal for Stepmoms.


Ten Tips To Help Your Child Transition Through Divorce

April 25th, 2011

Wondering how your divorce or separation is impacting your child? These 10 tips will help your child. This article appeared in YourTango Expert Blog

Each year, more than 1 million children experience the divorce of their parents.  Divorce rates peaked in 1979-1981 at 5.3 per 1000 persons and decreased by 1995 to 4.4 per 1000 persons. Approximately 50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce (Cohen, American Academy of Pediatrics).  Moreover, the American Psychological Association notes that children of stepfamilies face higher risks of emotional and behavioral problems.

Scary statistics, however, there are things you can do to help your children during a time of transition.  It is important to use age appropriate explanations.  Children often believe they are the cause of divorce or they can fix it.

These ten tips will help your child adjust:

1. Never force your child to take sides or involve your child in an argument.

2. Don’t criticize or fight with you ex- spouse in front of your child. If your child overhears you arguing explain that sometimes people say hurtful things when they are upset, however there are better ways to communicate your feelings. Discuss your concerns with your ex when your child is not present.  It is not helpful to bring them into your arguments or adult discussions.

3. Respect the relationship they have with the other parent. It is important to let your children show their love to both parents and spend time with each without feeling guilty. Provide your child with reassurance that both their parents still love them even though they may only be living with one parent at a time.

4. Your children know more than you think they know- so talk with them early on and often.

5. Create safety by listening and trying to understand their point of view. Don’t try to rescue, overcompensate (by doing or giving them things), or problem solve. The best thing you can do is listen as they express their feelings, without judgment.

6. Be open about what is happening without giving too much unnecessary information. For example, “Your father and I are having problems and we need to separate because we cannot get along with each other”.

7. Let you child know that it is not their fault and they cannot fix the problem.

8. Do not blame your ex-spouse. This creates a problem with alliances. Your child needs you to model healthy boundaries so they do not become co-dependent, feeling like they need to be responsible for another’s well being.

9. Create a schedule. Children crave consistency; it is the way they feel psychologically and physically safe. Keep a routine, even amongst the transitioning between two households.

10. Let them know they are loved and you are willing to listen and try your best to answer questions they have.

If you are looking to support your child during the transition of divorce, we can help.  Click here to schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation and learn how you can help your child.