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Divorce and children: Putting children first

For most of us, the first thing we think about after we get married is having children, for others it is the farthest thing on the mind. For those of us who think about having children after marriage, we also need to think of what type of parents we will be. While there is not a book written that can tell you what personality your child will have and how to handle any problems that may arise, there are parenting classes that can help you prepare for this task.

If you are from the “old school,” you will think that it all comes naturally and you can handle anything but in today’s society, it is different. It does not all come naturally. Parents today are dealing with situations that they could not imagine would happen.

Divorce is a major problem for our children today. At one point, the divorce rate in California was up to 75%. What do we do when this happens to us? We need to learn to think only about our children. This is more difficult than it sounds but parents need to look at the long-term effect that this has on our children. Some children are severely traumatized by divorce, especially if the divorce is a nasty one, and/or if there is a prolonged or an intense custody battle. Some of the effects of a divorce will pass in time; others may last for weeks, years, or even the rest of a child’s life. Children who go through a divorce face major issues with self-esteem. Sometimes they even believe that they themselves caused the divorce, or that they did something wrong that made mommy and/or daddy want to not be with them. These self-esteem issues, if not addressed, can be long-lasting.

Some children also develop a lot of security issues and fears. When one parent is absent, the child can also feel lonely and depressed. Who are you as a parent to forbid your child to see the other parent? Didn’t you both make that child together? In some extreme situations, it might be the best thing for the child not to see the other parent but in some situations where the child has a mother and a father that are willing and able, who are you to deprive them of that?

Long-term studies suggest that a person’s overall social adjustment will relate directly to how her/his quality of life and her/his relationship with both of her/his parents turn out after a divorce. If both parents continue to be involved and have healthy relationships with the child, he is more likely to be well-adjusted.

Other studies suggest that there is a “sleeper effect” of divorce. This is the idea that

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