Family Healthy Choices

A nonprofit agency dedicated to helping families meet their needs and embrace their opportunities.

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Session 2 Outline

Sources of Conflict

  • Discussion of Dr. Kenneth Cloke’s ten reasons why couples remain in conflict
  • Common sources of conflict during the divorce process.

What Parents Can Do

  • Telling the Children
    o Establishing appropriate boundaries between child related and adult related issues
    o Focus on feelings, not facts
  • Reassurance
    o Divorce is the action of the parents and not a result of child’s behaviors
    o Children are loved by both parents
    o Parental commitment to sustaining a close loving relationship with the child
  • Consistency
    o Child’s life is changing; the family is changing; The impact of changes on the child
    o Even in the midst of significant change (parents living apart, change in living situation) parents may be able to keep daily routines the same for the child
  • Introduction of new relationships and blending families
    o Significance for the child and ex-spouse
    o Challenges in blending families including: competition for parent’s time, energy, and affection; creation of a new family culture; experience of family expansion and contraction; ambivalence of children to attach to new person; and roles related to authority and discipline
  • Encouragement
    o Supporting the child to remain engaged in school and activities
    o Supporting the child’s relationship with other parent and extended family
  • Emotional Security
    o Strategies for promoting child’s emotional security
    o Refraining from overburdening child with adult details about the divorce, financial security, etc.
  • Honesty
    o Children’s fantasy that parents will reunite
    o Honesty with self (balancing needs of self with needs of children)
  • Advocacy
    o Tips on advocating for your child with teachers, coaches, other adult caretakers
  • Safety
    o Priority understanding between parents on how the child will be kept safe during each other’s caretaking time
  • Taking Care of Oneself
    o Discussing with parents the importance of their finding ways to take care of themselves in order to be effective in their parenting roles
    o Relationship of taking care of self to factors impacting outcomes for children during the divorce process

Tips for Successful Parenting Apart

  • Presentation of considerations related to parallel and cooperative parenting approaches
  • Specific strategies parents may use to ease challenges of transitions and visitation schedule, to engage in difficult discussions with an ex-spouse, and remaining mindful of conducting negotiations with children’s best interest as a priority

Strategies for Working with an Ex-Spouse who is Uncooperative, Manipulative, Dishonest

  • Review book by Julie Ross and Judy Corcoran, Joint Custody with a Jerk, and strategies for managing conflict and negotiating
  • Parental and Child Pitfalls

  • Discussion of commonly occurring challenges and negative behavior patterns in which parents and/or children may engage during divorce process
  • When Do You Need To Worry About Your Child or Yourself?

    • Presentation of indicators of stress for adults and children
    • Discussion about recognizing when parents should seek professional support or assistance for their child or themselves
    • Accessing available resources and supports

    Signs of Positive Adjustment

  • Discussion with parents about how they will recognize that they and their children are successfully working through their feelings related to the divorce and effectively moving on with their lives