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January 28, 2019 Separation, Divorce and Children in the Middle

Liz Larson, Parent & Family Resource Center

Dates to remember:
January 30 – NDSU Extension Advisory Council
February 6 - Field to Fork Webinar: Successful Seed Starting At Home
February 12 - Powerful Tools for Caregivers, Bismarck
February 13 - Field to Fork Webinar: Hops in North Dakota-What You Need To Know
February 20 - Field to Fork Webinar: Growing Apples in North Dakota
February 21 – General Pesticide Certification, New Salem
March 13 – Fumigation Certification, New Salem
March 19 – General Pesticide Certification, Morton County Courthouse, Mandan

Separation, Divorce and Children in the Middle

When couples say “I do” or decide to make a family, divorce or separation is not what most anticipate in their futures. Even so, the North Dakota Department of Health’s Vital Records Division indicates that during the past five years, North Dakota couples have averaged about 2,000 divorces a year. This number does not capture never-married couples who dissolve their relationships. Many of these separations or divorces include families with children.

“Anyone who has experienced a divorce or separation as a child, teen or adult knows the transition can include trying times,” says Liz Larson, NDSU Extension, Parent and Family Resource Center. Oftentimes, the adults and the children in the family are at very different places in their journey with this family unit change. The adults may have been talking about divorce for months or years, waiting for a particular time to divorce or separate. The children may be completely unaware that the parents are planning to separate. Children, especially young children, accept that their life, whatever it is like, is “normal” because it is what they have come to expect. By the time parents break the news to their children, the adults may be accepting of the idea while the children are shocked by the news.

One way to think of family dynamics is to picture a baby’s mobile. When nothing is happening around the mobile, its pieces are hanging in balance. If we add another family member, such as an aging grandparent or a new baby, the mobile may go out of alignment for a while. Eventually, it will right itself again and perhaps hang a bit differently that it had originally. The illustration can be used when adding alcoholism, removing a job, or moving to a different home. All of these transitions can upset the balance of a family’s life for a while. Getting research-based information and support can make these life transitions easier for everyone.

NDSU Extension, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota, offers “Parents Forever” – an education program for families in transition. This is available 24/7 as an online class, but is also offered as an in-person class in some areas of the state. Parents Forever covers three areas of help for families:

  • Taking care of yourself
  • Taking care of your children
  • Being successful with co-parenting

All three areas are important for parents to learn about as they consider separation or divorce and the impact this transition will have on their children; no matter the child’s age.

Visit www.parentsforevernd.org for more information on the Parents Forever program, both online and in-person. If you are interested in the in-person class, contact Liz at the Parent and Family Resource Center: 701-667-3342 or email Liz.Larson@ndsu.edu

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