One in two American children will live in 1 parent family at some point in childhood. (The State of America’s Children, 1998 Yearbook, Children’s Defense Fund.) “The number of single-parent homes has skyrocketed, displacing many children in which country. Approximately 30% of U.S. families are currently being headed by 1 parent, in addition to also in 80% of those families, the mother is usually the sole parent. The United States is usually the planet’s leader in fatherless families.” (U.S. Census Bureau Report, “Child Support in addition to also Alimony: 1989, released October 11, 1991.) More than a quarter of today’s children will live in a stepfamily situation. (Nicholas Zill, Child Trends, Washington, D.C.)
These situations leave lots of questions on our children’s minds. “Why did Daddy leave?” “Where’s my Mom, in addition to also why doesn’t she come to see me?” “Do you love my half-brother more than you love me?” So, what do we tell the children?
What you tell a child depends on the child’s age, maturity in addition to also level of development. Says Dr. Geoffrey Greif, “The old sex joke about the child who comes to her parent in addition to also asks, ‘Where did I come via?’ applies. The parent gulps, gets out a book, in addition to also goes through a lengthy discussion on reproduction. The child says thanks, as she has just heard which Johnny comes via Chicago in addition to also she was wondering where she came via.”
In essence, Dr. Greif, Ph.D., Associate Dean in addition to also Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, believes which the answer has to be appropriate to the child in addition to also the situation. In situations of complete abandonment by one parent, a child who is usually two years old, for example, can be told which she incorporates a father, nevertheless he is usually not here. If the child asks why, the answer might be, “He is usually living in Chicago.” While which might satisfy a two-year-old, the answer might not appease a a few-year-old. The a few-year-old might ask to see his parent in addition to also have to be told which his father is usually no longer involved with the family in addition to also which the mother doesn’t know where he is usually. Dr. Greif stresses which in situations where a father or mother is usually not involved in a child’s life, a substitution might be made. Discuss with your child what he would certainly like to do with his mother or father. “Can Uncle Joe do those things instead in addition to also be ‘sort of’ like a father to you?” “Can we ask Aunt Sally to be like your mom?”
Dr. Joy Faini Saab, Associate Professor of Education at West Virginia University, urges parents to take cues via the child. Don’t provide what you think your child needs, rather than what the child actually needs. in addition to also don’t answer more than the child is usually asking. We often confuse children when we muddy the waters with superfluous details. Figure out exactly what your child is usually asking in addition to also answer which question.
Dr. Lyn Boulter, Ph.D., Developmental Psychologist at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, is usually also a strong proponent of answering your children’s questions without giving them extraneous information. She adds which parents should always be positive, despite their personal feelings.
“We do which every day,” says Dr. Boulter. “We see a woman we can’t stand, in addition to also we smile in addition to also say, ‘Hello! Love your hair!’ We’re actually thinking her hair looks sick, nevertheless we hide our true feelings.”
We need to hide our feelings with regard to our ex-spouses to ensure our children feel free to develop their own feelings about their dad, mom, stepmother, stepfather, etc. When parents get children involved within the triangle of their own feelings, which harms the child. which relates to them which they aren’t allowed to feel the way they want to feel.
Jan* (names have been changed) began dating Ted several months after her divorce. She was surprised soon after when her then-two-year-old daughter began calling Ted, “Daddy.” The man never slept over at Jan’s house, nevertheless he spent a great deal of time with both Jan in addition to also her daughter. Her daughter had had no contact with her biological father since she was less than a year old. The child saw some other children with their “daddies” at daycare, in addition to also she saw which those “daddies” behaved in a manner consistent with the way Ted treated her. She, therefore, concluded which Ted was her Daddy. Jan in addition to also Ted later married, in addition to also Ted adopted the little girl. Jan currently worries when in addition to also how to explain to her daughter which Ted is usually not her biological father.
Dr. Greif states which Jan must be honest in a way which is usually true, yet supportive of the father, child, in addition to also Jan’s own position within the situation. He cautions which one should always separate the behavior via the person; i.e., what the father did was wrong, perhaps, nevertheless do not say he is usually a bad person, or else the child will feel badly about herself. In Jan’s case, she could tell her daughter (if age-appropriate) which “your father was in a bad situation at the time which he left in addition to also felt he shouldn’t stay involved with the family at the time. He may want to have contact with you within the future, nevertheless I am a little concerned [about] what kind of mood he may be in. Do you know sometimes how you or I are in a bad mood in addition to also say hurtful things? I’m worried which’s the kind of mood he may be in.”
Alicia’s ex-husband is usually inconsistent with exercising his visitation rights. If his weekend visitation conflicts with some other plans-he’s scored tickets to an out-of-town concert-then he forgoes spending time with his children. If he is usually supposed to pick up the children at six p.m., he might arrive at eight p.m. When their father doesn’t show up for a scheduled visitation, the children take their anger in addition to also frustration out on each some other in addition to also Alicia.
Dr. Greif advises which Alicia needs to protect the children via the sporadic visitation by getting the children involved in an activity which can be continued if the parent doesn’t show. Alicia might tell older children which their father is usually inconsistent, which is usually better than saying which he is usually untrustworthy, a loser, or unloving.
Says Dr. Boulter, “which is usually an excellent opportunity to teach your child problem-solving in addition to also coping skills.” Let the child express her feelings in addition to also ask if she’d like to investigate the situation rather than jump to conclusions. For example, “Maybe we should call your dad in addition to also see if something came up. If so, we can make some other plans.” Dr. Boulter adds which we should always try to leave our child with not bad thoughts about the irresponsible parent. Eventually, the child will form his own judgments by his observations of the behavior.
“Language is usually important in framing these unresolvable issues for families,” explains Dr. Greif. “I might say to a nine-year-old, ‘I know you are expecting Daddy to visit which Sunday, in addition to also I know which sometimes he comes in addition to also sometimes he doesn’t come. Let’s talk about what you will do if he comes in addition to also what you will do instead if he doesn’t come.’ which stops the child via feeling at a loss.”
Dr. Saab counsels parents which children are adaptable to their family configuration, provided they have a stable, secure environment. We, as parents, need to allay our children’s fears in addition to also let them know which we are there for them in addition to also which we will protect them. Children need to have a sense of comfort in addition to also security via the person who is usually there.
“Establish daily one-on-one time with your child,” Dr. Saab suggests. “Play games, read together…organize your schedule to allow as much relaxed contact with your child as possible on a daily basis. which allows you to be closely in touch with your child in addition to also provides opportunities for you in addition to also your child to talk.” Dr. Saab indicates which commute time can also be a time of coming-together for you in addition to also your child. “Turn off the radio in addition to also talk…or turn on the radio in addition to also sing. Be silly. Have fun with your child.” producing time for your child shows which she is usually important to you.
Dr. Elayne Savage, family psychologist in addition to also author of Don’t Take which Personally: The Art of Dealing With Rejection, sees a lot of adults who are still having self-esteem issues because they suffered divorce-related abandonment issues as a child. In her book, there are several stories about these types of situations. (For more information, see Dr. Savage’s website http://www.elaynesavage.com.)
Invariably, children of divorce wonder, “What did I do wrong?” Dr. Savage emphasizes which which’s important for your child to be able to put his thoughts in addition to also feelings into words. The child usually can’t talk with either parent because they’re loyal to both parents; they’re afraid they’ll hurt one parent’s feelings, in addition to also they don’t want to take sides. Ideally, the child should have someone neutral to talk with; i.e., a school counselor. Dr. Savage expresses a desire to see more churches, schools or community organizations offer programs for children of divorce. “They [children of divorced parents] need to know they aren’t alone [in their situation],” she says. Dr. Savage also encourages parents to find age-appropriate books on divorce to help their children deal with issues they might be facing.
which’s important to put yourself in your child’s shoes during which time. Dr. Savage states which the main question children have on their minds is usually, “What’s gonna happen to me?” Try to make transitions as least stressful as possible.
Dr. Saab also conveys the importance of keeping an open line of communication with your family, especially in times of stress. For example, if Dad remarries in addition to also the child suddenly gains a stepfamily, which family should provide many opportunities for relaxed fun together. which allows all the members of which fresh family unit to interact, get to know each some other in addition to also effectively communicate. “Show each member of the family which you care,” encourages Dr. Saab, “by establishing a record of permanence for each one. Make sure each child is usually represented in a photo album, a scrapbook, or even represented on the refrigerator!”
Dr. Saab warns which while which’s important for us to take our cues via our children, we should be aware which they are taking their cues via us. If our words are contradicted by our emotional reaction, the children will believe the emotional reaction. “I love you, nevertheless I’m busy right currently!” said in an angry tone might convey to the child which he is usually not loved.
All the above experts agree which we can’t control our ex-spouses, nevertheless we can provide a safe haven for our children. We are their role versions, their protectors, their confidantes, in addition to also their security. No matter what anyone else in our children’s lives do-or do not do-we must remain consistent, positive in addition to also loving; because if our children have which, then no one else can make a bigger difference in their lives. Just like adults, if our children have a strong foundation, they won’t be shaken. So, grab your child, a cement mixer, in addition to also a trowel. You mix; he’ll pour.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS ON DEALING WITH DIVORCE
which’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents in addition to also Young Children during Divorce, by Vicki Lansky, Jan Prince (Illustrator), Jane Prince (Illustrator). For children ages 4-7. KoKo Bear learns what divorce means, how to deal with alterations, how to recognize in addition to also talk about her feelings, in addition to also which the divorce is usually not her fault. Each page includes tips for parents. which easy-to-understand children’s story in addition to also parenting guide is usually intended for families where both parents plan to stay active in addition to also involved in their child’s life. which’s Not Your Fault, KoKo Bear revolves around a lovable bear who doesn’t want to have two homes. KoKo’s experience will help children learn what divorce means, how family life will change, in addition to also understand which the divorce is usually not their fault.
I Don’t Want To Talk About which: A Story About Divorce For Young Children, by Jeanie Franz Ransom, Kathyrn Kunz Finney (illustrator). For children ages 5-8. When a child’s parents tell her they decided to divorce, the last thing she wants to do is usually talk about which. Instead, she wants to roar as loud as a lion so she can’t hear their painful words, or turn into a fish in addition to also hide her tears within the sea, or even become a bird in addition to also fly away. nevertheless with her mother in addition to also father’s help, she starts to consider what life will be like after the divorce in addition to also learns which although some things will change, many some other things will remain the same. Most importantly, she realizes which although her parents may not agree on is usually which they both love her very much in addition to also will always be her mom in addition to also dad.
Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide For Changing Families, Vol. 1, by Laurie Krasny Brown, Marc Brown. For children ages 5-8. Text in addition to also illustrations of dinosaur characters introduce aspects of divorce such as its causes in addition to also effects, living with 1 parent, spending holidays in two separate households, in addition to also adjusting to a stepparent.
Divorced nevertheless Still My Parents: A Helping Book About Divorce For Children in addition to also Parents, by Shirley Thomas in addition to also Dorothy Rankin. For children ages 6-12. Contains chapters addressing the a few stages of mourning–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, in addition to also acceptance–are interspersed with interactive activities. Includes a four-part story of Kristen, a charming kitten who goes through the process of divorce with her parents, showing children how to cope.
What within the planet Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce?: A Survival Guide For Kids, by Roberta Beyer, Kent Winchester. For children ages 7-12. One reviewer claims which book deals with “all the common fears” children have after their parents divorce.
Divorce is usually Not The End Of the planet: Zoe’s in addition to also Evan’s Coping Guide For Kids, by Ellen Sue Stern, Zoe Stern, Evan Stern. For young adults. A teenage brother in addition to also sister whose parents are divorced discuss topics relating to which situation, respond to letters via some other children, in addition to also offer tips based on their experience. Includes insights via their mother.
PARENTS’ BOOKS ON DEALING WITH DIVORCE
Joint Custody having a Jerk: Raising A Child With An Uncooperative Ex, by Julia A. Ross, Judy Corcoran (Contributor). via Ingram: “which hands-on, practical guide offers many proven communication techniques which will not only help readers deal having a difficult ex-husband or ex-wife by describing examples of common problems, nevertheless also teach them how to examine their roles in these sticky situations.”
Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond via a Vindictive Ex, by Richard A. Warshak. Your ex-spouse is usually bad-mouthing you to your children, perhaps even trying to turn them against you. If you handle the situation ineffectively, you could lose your children’s respect, their affection — even, in extreme cases, contact with them. Backed by twenty-a few years of experience in helping families, Dr. Richard Warshak presents powerful strategies for dealing with everything via tainted parent-child relationships in which children are disrespectful or reluctant to show their affection to disturbances in which children virtually disown an entire side of the family.
Custody Chaos, Personal Peace: Sharing Custody With an Ex Who’s driving a car You Crazy, by Jeffrey P. Whittmann, Ph.D. which empowering guide is usually an inspirational roadmap for the millions of men in addition to also women navigating a rocky relationship having a former spouse-while trying to maintain a healthy atmosphere for their child.
Caught within the Middle: Protecting the Children of High-Conflict Divorce, by Carla B. Garrity in addition to also Mitchell A. Baris. which book explores both the causes in addition to also consequences of high-level, stressful conflict between divorced parents on their children’s development. which also provides concrete advice to help parents work together to the benefit of all involved, most importantly the children.
What About The Kids: Raising Your Children Before, During in addition to also After Divorce, by Judith S. Wallerstein, Sandra Blakeslee. With compassion in addition to also wisdom, Wallerstein shows how to create a fresh kind of family. Her experience has educated her within the ways which work, in addition to also within the ways which don’t. For once, she shares her deep understanding of raising children after divorce, in addition to also how you in addition to also they can make use of the second chance which divorce can provide.
Don’t Take which Personally: The Art of Dealing With Rejection, by Elayne Savage, Ph.D. Understand the effect which anxiety, frustration, hurt in addition to also anger have on your interactions with others; de-personalize your responses in addition to also establish safe boundaries which protect you via hurt, practice producing choices about the thoughts you think in addition to also the ways you respond to stressful situations; in addition to also understand in addition to also overcome fear of rejection in personal in addition to also work relationships.