How You Handle Your Divorce Will Impact Your Children

How You Handle Your Divorce Will Impact Your Children

It is no secret that divorce can be hard on children. Mountains of research has been done on this subject and endless volumes have been written about how divorce impacts the lives of the kids. How it affects them depends largely on their age and how the parents deal with it.

Younger children may throw tantrums or act out in similar ways, school-age children and teenagers may be more prone to rebel against authority, experience depression, or develop eating or sleeping disorders. Adult children may have various issues in their own relationships, such as difficulty trusting their mate.

How to Minimize the Negative Effects of a Divorce

Children almost always react negatively to a divorce, but how parents handle it is a major factor in reducing any negative impact the marriage dissolution has. Here are some ways you can help your children cope with a divorce:

Wait to Tell Your Children Until the Decision is Final 

How you initially approach the subject of the divorce with your kids is extremely important. First of all, if you and your spouse are at odds and you are just thinking about getting a divorce, do not bring that up to your children. You do not want your kids to be worried and stressed about something that may or may not happen. Wait until you and your spouse have made a final decision that your differences are irreconcilable before making the announcement.

Make a Plan to Tell the Children Together

When you have finally decided that you are getting a divorce, plan to explain this to your children with your spouse, not separately. Do this without blaming the other parent and reassure your kids that it is not in any way their fault. Also, be sure to let them know that, even though Mom and Dad won’t be together anymore, you are still going to work together to do what is best for them no matter what else happens.

Keep Your Children Out of Disputes with Your Ex

As the divorce process ensues, you will most likely have disputes with your ex about various issues. These arguments can sometimes dredge up hard feelings and lead to each side hurling insults and accusations at each other. When kids see their parents quarreling, it increases their stress and anxiety, which can result in other consequences. And the last thing most children want to do is to take sides in a dispute between their parents. Heated discussions are a part of life and they will occur at times. Do your best to keep your children out of them.

Consider Mediation to Settle Your Divorce

Divorce can be costly in terms of time, money, and emotions. This is especially true if you opt for traditional litigation. A court case is by its very nature adversarial, and battles over child-related issues such as custody and parenting plans can inflict lasting emotional damage on everyone involved. If you and your spouse are committed to putting the interests of your children above all else, consider an alternative way to settle your divorce.

Mediation is a collaborative process that is designed to bring parties together to settle their differences amicably. The process is facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator whose job is to identify the underlying issues and guide the discussion toward a peaceful and workable resolution. Mediation can save divorcing couples time and significant amounts of money in legal fees. But most importantly, the process encourages cooperation among participants, which reduces stress and anxiety and helps kids cope with the divorce in a healthier way.

 

What is Discernment Counseling? How Is it Used for Divorce?

What is Discernment Counseling? How Is it Used for Divorce?

Discernment Counseling was founded by Bill Doherty, a therapist who has expertise in relationship counseling. The actual word “discernment” is defined as have the ability to judge a situation in a well and educated manner. Discernment counseling  is aimed at helping  couples  look at their relationship on a deeper level, through the guidance of a seasoned, clinically licensed counselor. The goals of counseling are: a comprehensive examination of your relationship and challenges you are having, clarity regarding what path to take in your relationship, and confidence, as well as support as you move forward.

What exactly happens in discernment counseling?  Here is a brief overview of what may happen in your first sessions during this process. The therapist meets with the couple together, utilizing specific tools to help determine dynamics of the relationship. Each partner then meets with the counselor alone. The therapist then assists each partner in examining their perspective on the challenges they are having in the relationship, how they may each contribute to the difficulties, and then what path they feel is appropriate for the relationship at the current time.

Lastly, the therapist meets with the couple, discusses the information given and then clarifies with each partner on the path they would like to take. As per the discernment counseling model, there are three paths. The first path is keeping the marriage as it has been. The second path is separation or divorce. The third path is a 6 month commitment to couples therapy, where divorce is not pursued.

Obviously, the above techniques used in discernment counseling may  bring up many dynamics that need to be explored on a deeper level. Most commonly, a specific  dynamic may be that one partner wants to work on the relationship and the other partner does not see a future.  Another dynamic may be one partner is not sure of what path to pursue.

Discernment counseling is an excellent approach to utilize before seeking legal assistance. Why? Discernment counseling gives you a chance to take a different look at your relationship, utilizing a clinically licensed counselor to guide you in making better choices.

This blog was written by a guest blogger & colleague of Roseann Vanella,Professional Mediator, Collen Brigid Fitzpatrick, MSW, LCSW of Instrumental Change, LLC.

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