NDSU Extension - Morton County


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October 16, 2018 Separation or Divorce Issues

Liz Larson, Parent and Family Resource Center
For the week of October 15, 2018


Dates to Remember

October 18th                  Backgrounding Cattle Seminar, New Salem Fairgrounds
October 20th                  SPLIT video showing & discussion, Mandan, 2:00p.m.
November 8 & 15         Parents Forever, Mandan
November 15th              4-H Volunteer Training, Glen Ullin


Separation or Divorce Issues

Many of us know a family that has experienced separation or divorce. It can be a time when parents and caregivers feel lost or unsure what steps to take or how best to support the children involved. The dictionary defines divorce as the “legal dissolution of a marriage that results in a complete or radical separation of closely connected people.” However, this definition barely describes the change, emotion or stress often linked with the divorce or separation experience. For children, it is not just family members moving or schedules changing, but it is a period of time filled with strong emotions and major family changes.

Divorce launches children into the experience of living in two worlds. They are two worlds with parents who may have differing values, interests or ways of living. As much as possible, parents who can sustain some consistency such as similar rules or expectations for their children can help their children adapt. Divorce or separation still means change for children, and change is difficult for most people. When seeking to understand a child’s experience of divorce, adults must think somewhat differently and be aware of the experience from a child’s point of view rather than an adult’s perspective.

Some of the issues adults must face in the process of divorce are:

  • Deciding where to live as a family member
  • Planning what school the child(ren) will attend
  • Managing court processes and decisions
  • Dividing up property
  • Providing for household expenses
  • Giving sufficient and needed daily care to children

In contrast, children may face more internal issues that include the following:

  • Grieving about the physical absence of a parent
  • Coping with the stress of multiple changes at once
  • Seeking some sort of control over the situation
  • Accepting reassurance that they are not at fault

Adults must understand that the issues occupying them may be quite different than the concerns of their children. One thing we know, children of all ages need to hear frequently that they are still loved despite the changes in family life. There are many resources available to learn more about how to support children during these changes.

The Morton Mandan Public Library will be hosting a viewing of the film, SPLT: A Film for Kids of Divorce (and their Parents) which gives us the children’s perspective on divorce. The showing is at 2:00 on Saturday, October 20th. Following the film, Liz from the Parent and Family Resource Center will be around for discussion and to offer other books, resources, etc.

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