However, you never know until years later how this situation affects the children and this is why parents need to pay close attention to any cues, while adjusting to a new living situation. Many parents do not want to accept the pain their child is going through and are in denial. There can be tremendous feelings of guilt, bitterness, non-communication, extended family pressure, and financial strain. It is not enough to keep children, jobs and life normal while undergoing dramatic changes in the household.
As a child of divorced parents at the age of ten, I often felt worried and anxious when they were in the same room. When my father would pick us up for visitation I felt very uncomfortable because they were visibly hostile to each other and as a child it was very depressing. In addition, my own parents would talk ill of each other in front of me and this was very confusing and was a enormous burden on me. Parents don’t realize how their emotions effect their children. Children also don’t know how adult relationships work and are trying to manage from a child’s experience and perspective. It became so stressful that as a child I would pray that one of my parents would mysteriously disappear so I didn’t have to feel so bad. It’s confusing for a child to witness such indifference and hostility among the parents who conceived them. As I got older, I delayed any possible committed relationship because the thought of both my parents at my wedding caused heart palpations. My sister eloped denying herself the possibility of a special celebration. This was unfortunate for those of us who wanted to be there for her, but I understood. If only there had been post-divorce counseling to address the issues that caused so much unnecessary stress in my life. As a society with almost a 75% divorce rate, it seems to me post-divorce co-parenting skills should be a goal in the stipulation. If my parents and many divorced parents with children had been strongly encouraged or even court-mandated to parenting classes, I believe the children of divorce would have an easier time in their own relationships as adults and had a more secure stress free childhood.
Dana Greco is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and family psychotherapist in NYC. She is affiliated with The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, specializing in family systems She is a member of the Mental Health Professionals Panel for the Appellate Division of The Supreme and Family Courts in New York City. She is the author of “Please Don’t Buy Me Ice cream… A child’s rules for priceless parenting.” Dana also works closely with a mediator, Don Desroches, during the process of separation as a family counselor.
Don has several years experience in small, medium and large size organizations negotiating and mediating. He knows communication is essential when identifying each parties' needs in order for the facilitation and mediation process to resolve to a win/win situation. For many years, Don has helped people come to the realization that mediation instead of litigation is a much more reasonable route. He has saved clients thousands of dollars in legal fees, by reducing the emotional strain and increasing their ability to communicate amicably for future interactions.
Visit the web site at www.mediationandcounseling.com to find out the next date, time and place for the next free workshop on parenting, mediation and support.