In Part 1 of this series, I said I was wondering this past week: why is January Child-Centered Divorce Month? I suspect it is because there are so many divorces filed in January.
The parents feel like they have gotten (themselves and their children) through the holidays but by January, they feel they just have to move on from a marriage that is no longer working for them. Some very enlightened therapists, particularly Rosalind Sedacca, who was the first or one of the first to proclaim January as “Child-Centered Divorce Month,” realized that when parents are in their own pain the effect their divorce is having on the children sometimes loses their focus, and sometimes losing that focus can cause harm to their children for the rest of their lives. A wonderful resource is “Home Will Never Be the Same Again: A Guide for Adult Children of Gray Divorce,” by Carol Hughes, Ph.D. and Bruce Fredenburg, MS, LMFT, which helps divorcing parents and their adult children understand how the parents’ divorce affects their children and how to minimize the long-term effect of their divorce. on their children.
This week, I ran across two stories written about Adult Children of Divorce by Carolyn Hax, a writer for the Washington Post (the first one is in this blog’s Part 1 and the second is in Part 2):
The second story is about an adult, who is a child of divorce, and his wife, who are having their first child.
They decided they want to name that child a name that is a family name on both sides of the family, as they say, a timeless, classic name. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) the name they have chosen is the child’s paternal grandfather’s name, the man who divorced the new daddy’s mother. When parents divorce, THEY are often the ones who need counseling to figure out how to manage their ongoing relationship with their previous spouse or spouses so that their feelings do not spew over and adversely affect their children. If they do not learn how to manage their emotions and rebuild their lives, they are destined to make themselves miserable for the rest of their lives, but they have chosen to bring misery to the members of their family for generations ahead. Instead of enjoying the thrill of a new grandbaby, this divorced mother-in-law is stuck, not unlike a car in a muddy trench, too engrossed in her ongoing anger and self-pity to see that this is hurting her son, his wife and will adversely affect this new grandchild. I would certainly guess that in this story, the divorced mother (the writer’s mother-in-law) did not have counseling nor did she and her husband have a Collaborative Divorce. Divorce is hard; rarely are two people who are divorcing at the same emotional place, but there is help if people are willing to seek it out and go through hard work that is necessary for personal growth. Personal growth is not always easy or fun; sometimes it may feel like the debridement that burn victims must endure to remove the scars from their bodies and allow new growth to happen. But aren’t your children (and YOU) worth going through that hard work to be in a better place?
I have personally witnessed clients who are unwilling to let go of their “victimhood,” and for whatever reason decide to adopt that as their identity for the remainder of their lives. If these divorced parties had used the Collaborative Divorce process they would have learned to be accepting that life doesn’t always play out as you expect – it could be death or disability just as easily as divorce. If these divorced parties had used the Collaborative Divorce process, this grandmother-to-be would have learned how important it is for her, her children and her children’s children to learn resilience and how to build a new life, including learning how to be accepting of the good from her marriage (I assume she is grateful for her son) and that he had a father and a family that he loves and is proud enough of to want to give his child that family name. Divorce is being adults – please don’t force your children, whatever age they are to be burdened with carrying your wounds into the future.
If you had a genetic component that predisposed you to a terminal, painful disease, but that could be modified so that your children and your grandchildren would not have to suffer as you do, wouldn’t most people want to give that gift to their children? Such help is available to parents who divorce, with counseling and the Collaborative Divorce process.
Collaborative Divorce offers parents healing and skills that enable them to be successful co-parents for the rest of their children’s lives. Litigated divorces (Court) often leave scars from which the parents AND their children never heal. You and your children deserve better than that. If you or someone you know is facing divorce, help them find someone who is trained and experienced in COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE.