By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT

Children adjust better to the divorce if parents adjust well to it–
Purdue Provider Parent Partnerships Website

As summer winds down and the school year begins, newly separated families often worry about the impact on children who going back to school for the first time after parents separate. How will they do? What will they say? Will teachers, staff and other students notice, bring up or tend to the changes in your child’s family situation? These are common worries and fears couples bring to mediation. As mediators we try to prepare parents to support their children while adjusting to their new living situation. It's difficult to separate the journeys for each parent and child during divorce because the experiences for each may be very different.

Each person brings their unique history, beliefs and experiences to the divorce process. Some believe divorce is shameful creates problems and trauma for children. It’s difficult for them to separate their feelings from those of their children. But, it’s important to make a whole-hearted effort to do so, because the child is still learning about divorce and what it means to them. They don’t have to grow up with the same negative beliefs that parents may have learned in their youths. Times have changed.

The reality of divorce today is that it happens. It happens to people who never thought it would happen. It happens to good, responsible parents. It happens to people living in homes where families struggle, sometimes in the presence of children and sometimes out of earshot. When divorce does happen, it's helpful to remember that you, as a parent, grandparent, or teacher, have an opportunity to provide the child you know with a different experience. One key factor in how the child you know and love will experience the divorce is reflected in how parents and the support systems handle the situation among themselves. Your children see themselves as a reflection of both parents. Each and every time you deal with your former spouse, talk about them or interact with them, it CAN make a huge difference through the eyes of your children if you do so with kindness and respect.

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