Family Matters
Making the Case for Advocacy
for Children of Divorce
Question
Divorce is a risk factor, BUT…
Two Reactions
“Divorce is a normal part of growing up
today. Kids bounce back.”
“I feel so bad for these kids, but there’s...
The Kids Aren’t Fine.
Let’s look at
what happens
after divorce.
Children of Divorce exhibit…
 a higher divorce rate
 lower marriage rate
 more learning difficulties
 poorer social sk...
Behavioral Statistics
For Children of Divorce
 Have grades that are 20% lower
 Are nearly twice as likely to be sexually...
Behavioral Statistics
Children from Nontraditional Families
 75% of teen pregnancies
 75% of children/adolescents in che...
Behavioral Statistics (continued)
 Multiple risk factors
– Nine million American children face risk factors that may hind...
The Children Say…
 “It’s not true!”
 “If I only I was good…”
 “I’m so worried.”
 “What’s going to happen to me?”
 “Ho...
The Children Say…(continued)
 “I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.”
 “If you tell me what’s happening, I won’t
be so u...
My Story
 My parents’ divorce
– Sara
– Jade
– Me
 My work with children
 YMCA camp counselor, Jr. Leaders Club, and
che...
We’re Not Alone
 Family troubles affect students across all
classes, all social barriers
– Oswego Middle School – Summer ...
We fail to acknowledge this
social problem and address it.
The impact of divorce on
children can be devastating.
Why?
We can help.
Helping Strategies for Adults
 Educate yourself.
Three Year Adjustment Period
The Parent May/Must…
 Redefine self
 Find outside emotional support
 Adjust
 Move?
 Work...
Out of sync stages and needs
The child
needs
Parent
behavior
Overall
effect
Educational
effect
Parental consistency Incons...
Out of sync stages (continued)
The child
needs
Parent
behavior
Overall effect Educational
effect
Mutual parental
support
P...
Child’s View of Death vs. Divorce
Similarities
 Sadness
 Anger
 Blame
 Memories revered
 Guilt
 Parent dating
 Fami...
Helping Strategies for Adults
 Educate yourself.
 Meet the child’s needs.
– Security & stability
– Emotional support & g...
The Child Needs…
 An explanation for the divorce.
 Awareness of upcoming changes.
 Reassurance of parental love, concer...
We can help!
 As parents
 As individuals
– Including teachers, child care providers,
coaches, youth ministers, etc.
 As...
Conclusion
 Children of divorce are not fine. They
need our attention.
 They are not doomed, but they do need
our suppor...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Family Matters

1,001 views

Published on

In this presentation, I make the case that children of divorce deserve our attention, and that there is much that adults can do to help.

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,001
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
79
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
27
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • There is no question that divorce is a risk factor, but having divorced parents does not mean you’re doomed! There is a lot that children and adults can do to ensure the child’s future success and to help young people meet their personal potential.
  • I include these statistics in my presentation because when measuring teen pregnancy, chemical dependency, and incarceration, it is often the case that we know whether they are living with two married people or living in a single parent home. Often, we don’t know if the parents were married, and then divorced; never married; divorced and remarried; widowed; or widowed and remarried. These statistics apply to all children who do not live with their married biological parents.The programs available for children of divorce also benefit children from these nontraditional families. It is my belief that these statistics can be improved by implementing programs, like Blended Love’s Things Change Journal Program, that equip all children to cope positively with family change.
  • Many children are suffering in silence and choosing unhealthy coping mechanisms because adults fail to acknowledge the impact of their home lives. We minimize their feelings and assume they’ll bounce back. In failing to acknowledge the problem, we never get around to actually addressing it. We have programs focused on sex education, drug and alcohol abuse, character, and the importance of education, and we wonder why teens are choosing risky behaviors and failing to do their best in school. It is because we fail to address the root of the problem. We attempt to motivate a generation that won’t be motivated by lectures and pep talks. We need to start addressing the real problem.Keeping this in mind, the answer is clear: we need to look at the research, examine the child’s special needs, and begin meeting those needs to keep children, healthy, happy, and on track to meeting their potential.
  • That’s brings us to the second claim: It is sad watching these children – but there is so much we can do to help.
  • First, we can educate ourselves – about the problem, it’s impacts, and the child’s special needs. I have included some slides that outline the typical three year adjustment period for children whose parents handle their divorces well, as well as the out-of-sync needs table, which describes how the needs of the child and the resources of the divorcing parent are often out of sync after divorce. Please take a look at those slides later.
  • First, we can educate ourselves – about the problem, it’s impacts, and the child’s special needs.Second, meet the child’s needs. Depending on their developmental stage, children of divorce have different needs. Still, all children, particularly children of divorce, need stability, security, emotional support and guidance, and examples of healthy relationships, healthy communication and conflict resolution, and healthy coping skills. Children need adult guidance for how to deal with relationships and their emotions. This is getting harder and harder to come by, as more and more adults lacked their own examples in their youth. It can be a vicious cycle if we choose not to educate ourselves.
  • Regardless of developmental stage, all children, especially children of divorce, have these needs.
  • We can help address this pervasive social problem as parents, as individuals, and as a community. Community support, such as Blended Love’s Things Change Journal Program and the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative’s skills-based relationship classes, allow adults the opportunity to address this timely problem by investing in their relationships, serving as positive examples to their children and others, and by providing real support and guidance for children coping with family changes.
  • In summary, children of divorce are not fine and they need our attention. They are not doomed(!), but they do need our support. As adults, we can educate ourselves, become volunteers or mentors, and request cost-effective, school-based programs, such as Blended Love’s Things Change Journal program, for our schools. The time to help children of divorce is now.
  • Family Matters

    1. 1. Family Matters Making the Case for Advocacy for Children of Divorce
    2. 2. Question
    3. 3. Divorce is a risk factor, BUT…
    4. 4. Two Reactions “Divorce is a normal part of growing up today. Kids bounce back.” “I feel so bad for these kids, but there’s nothing I can do to help them.”
    5. 5. The Kids Aren’t Fine. Let’s look at what happens after divorce.
    6. 6. Children of Divorce exhibit…  a higher divorce rate  lower marriage rate  more learning difficulties  poorer social skills  earlier sexual activity  poorer conflict-resolution skills  increased gang involvement  more insecurity, anxiety, and depression as compared to children with married parents and their own pre-divorce performance.
    7. 7. Behavioral Statistics For Children of Divorce  Have grades that are 20% lower  Are nearly twice as likely to be sexually abused  Are 70% more likely to be expelled/ suspended from school (as compared to their peers living with their married parents)  One in 3 drop out of high school.
    8. 8. Behavioral Statistics Children from Nontraditional Families  75% of teen pregnancies  75% of children/adolescents in chemical dependency hospitals  1 out of 5 children have a learning, emotional, or behavioral problem due to the family system changing.  More than one half of all youths incarcerated for criminal acts
    9. 9. Behavioral Statistics (continued)  Multiple risk factors – Nine million American children face risk factors that may hinder their ability to become healthy and productive adults. One in seven children deal with at least four of the risk factors, which include growing up in a single-parent household...The survey also indicated that children confronting several risk factors are more likely to experience problems with concentration, communication, and health.  63% of suicides
    10. 10. The Children Say…  “It’s not true!”  “If I only I was good…”  “I’m so worried.”  “What’s going to happen to me?”  “How will other people treat me now?”  “I’m not too young to miss my daddy.”
    11. 11. The Children Say…(continued)  “I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.”  “If you tell me what’s happening, I won’t be so upset.”  “I feel terrible and I want to talk about it, but I’m scared to bring it up.”  “I say everything’s fine, but it’s really not.”
    12. 12. My Story  My parents’ divorce – Sara – Jade – Me  My work with children  YMCA camp counselor, Jr. Leaders Club, and cheerleading coach  After-school drama and music program  Public schools – speaker, tutor  My goal: to be a role model and supporter
    13. 13. We’re Not Alone  Family troubles affect students across all classes, all social barriers – Oswego Middle School – Summer school – Sally asked, “Can you keep a secret?” – Eugene Field Elementary in 2004  Over one million American children experience the divorce of their parents every year.  Oklahoma has the second highest divorce rate in the nation.
    14. 14. We fail to acknowledge this social problem and address it. The impact of divorce on children can be devastating. Why?
    15. 15. We can help.
    16. 16. Helping Strategies for Adults  Educate yourself.
    17. 17. Three Year Adjustment Period The Parent May/Must…  Redefine self  Find outside emotional support  Adjust  Move?  Work & provide income  Assume single parent role  Juggle many needs, some conflicting  Be a parent The Child May/Must…  Redefine family  Grieve  Adjust  Need security  Reassume role of a child  Move?  Adjust to change in parenting  Continue status quo at school  Be normal/adjusted and nice  Gain independence
    18. 18. Out of sync stages and needs The child needs Parent behavior Overall effect Educational effect Parental consistency Inconsistent Mixed Message Anger... Confrontation with authority Financial psuedo- security Must work or be dependent Decreased parental time Decreased family support for education priorities Beginning independence Demands more attention from parent Fears negative school contacts Preoccupied child with unclear self-image A Home Separate home (from spouse) Two or more homes Confusion…Lack of consistency and completed tasks
    19. 19. Out of sync stages (continued) The child needs Parent behavior Overall effect Educational effect Mutual parental support Parents angry at ex- spouse Anti-messages… Child must take sides Emotional exhaustion… Explosions at school To be parented, cuddled, listened to Preoccupied, just trying to get by Appears chaotic to the child, parent may not be there when needed Emotional extremes… Somatic complaints…Begging for attention To mourn and be comforted Feels guilty for making child sad … Child then takes on adult roles to protect parent Emotional withdrawal… Overcompensation Class clown… Mr./Miss Maturity Take age- appropriate responsibility Allow the child freedom to grow… practice feedback with the child Growth, trust, confidence Positive feedback… Normal growth
    20. 20. Child’s View of Death vs. Divorce Similarities  Sadness  Anger  Blame  Memories revered  Guilt  Parent dating  Family life different  Economic instability  Fear of losing other parent  Regrets  Changes in lifestyle  Future unknown Differences  Physical death vs. no body  Public acknowledgement vs. no public acknowledgement Death only  Part of life cycle  Will never see person again Divorce  Embarrassment  Caught in the middle  Bitterness  Ongoing conflict  Hope of reconciliation
    21. 21. Helping Strategies for Adults  Educate yourself.  Meet the child’s needs. – Security & stability – Emotional support & guidance – Examples & information  Healthy relationships  Good communication & conflict resolution skills  Healthy coping skills
    22. 22. The Child Needs…  An explanation for the divorce.  Awareness of upcoming changes.  Reassurance of parental love, concern & support.  Permission to express sadness, anger, and grief.  Coping strategies for dealing with sadness, anger, and grief.  Permission to focus on age appropriate activities.  Freedom from parental conflict.  Freedom from pressure to take sides.  Permission to love both parents.  Examples & knowledge of healthy relationships.
    23. 23. We can help!  As parents  As individuals – Including teachers, child care providers, coaches, youth ministers, etc.  As a community – Blended Love’s programming – Calm Waters – Rainbows – And many other programs.
    24. 24. Conclusion  Children of divorce are not fine. They need our attention.  They are not doomed, but they do need our support.  Educate yourself.  Become a volunteer or mentor.  Request programming for your school.

    ×