Divorce Etiquette: The Book To Hand Your Parents When They Separate

Sometimes, as teens, you might have a clearer view than your parents. Besides, your smart and you’re not jaded by the life experiences that your parents might be. Add to that the fact that they are in the middle of a divorce and you just might be able to see the forest through the trees.

 

This isn’t to say that you won’t have your own problems with your parents divorcing. There’s a good chance you will. But you might just be able to see through that pain to help your parents along. And if this is the case, you might want to know about a book written by clinical psychologist, Jann Blackstone-Ford and the ex-wife of her current husband, Sharyl Jupe. Together, they outlined an approach to getting along with ex-spouses for the sake of the child. And what they emphasize for parents – and here’s where you can advocate for yourself – is to put the children first.

 

The book is titled Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or

Separation, written in 2010, and it encourages parents to take full responsibility for the effects of divorce on their children. The authors of this book witnessed the widespread damage of divorce on children and teens and experienced firsthand the difficulties of blending families. The book encourages parents to take responsibility for their choices and stop damaging their children with emotional outbursts and attempts at revenge.

 

The book highlights the need for parents to change their point of view – from theirs to the children. That means you! And this book also points out that the love a parent has for their children should come before his or her own pain.

 

Now you probably don’t want to say that outright, but you could simply and casually let your parents know that, hey, there’s a book you want them to read. Besides, as you can imagine, divorce can have significant impacts on you and the rest of the family. The consequences for teens bring considerable concern that warrants attention, tenderness, and care, and parents need to tend to that. For instance, the emotional costs suffered by children whose parents divorce include embarrassment, fear of abandonment, grief over loss, irrational hope of reconciliation, worry about their parents’ well-being, anxiety about divided loyalties, and uncertainty about romantic relationships.

 

But if you’re not affected by all that, or worse, blinded by it, perhaps you can facilitate an easy transition through the divorce. To facilitate this the authors lay out a of guidelines to follow, based on ethical behavior:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Put the children first.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • No badmouthing.
  • Biological parents make the rules; bonus parents uphold them.
  • Don’t be spiteful.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • Use empathy when problem solving.
  • Be honest and straightforward.
  • Respect each other’s turf.
  • Compromise whenever possible.

 

In America, the current rate of divorce is 3.8% per 1000 people. At the same time, the divorce rates over the last 2 decades have steadily declined, partially due to an increase in cohabitation. Yet, research shows that children with divorced parents fared worse in terms of self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavioral problems, physical health, and depression and anxiety than children whose parents were continuously married.

 

If you are beginning to see the effects of the divorce on you and the rest of the family, perhaps these 10 guidelines listed above can make it easier. If followed by your parents (assuming they read the book), these guidelines could facilitate an easy transition to a post-divorce experience.

 

Of course, for you as the teen, all of this is shaky ground to navigate. Yet, if your parents can keep you close and make you their first priority, then the road through divorce might not feel so tumultuous.

Divorce Can Be Traumatic for Teens and Children – Part Two

This is the second article in a two part series exploring how parental divorce can be a traumatic event for children and teens. The first article looked at the effects of divorce when it’s a traumatic event and this article will list some of the ways that parents, children, and teens can ease the trauma of divorce to prevent anxiety and depression.

For instance, supportive parents can help weather a stormy home life of a splitting family by slowly re-building the stability that children need. It’s important to remember that families that also experience domestic violence or other forms of family violence, such as child abuse or emotional abuse, will find it more challenging to create the steadiness that children need to move through adolescence and successfully enter adulthood.

Children and teens can look for an adult they trust about their parents’ divorcing. This will provide them with an outlet if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents. However, children can also talk to their parents. The more communication there is about the divorce, the better.

The entire family might also explore family therapy as a means to go through the difficult experience together. Then, if there are effects of trauma, depression, or anxiety among the children, the therapist or psychologist can tend to this as well.

In fact, typically, treatment for children and teens with PTSD would include therapy and psychotropic medication, if needed. For instance, a new drug called Osanetant, targets a distinct group of brain cells having to do with the formation and consolidation of fear memories. This is a drug that blocks fear memory consolidation shortly after exposure to a trauma, which would aid in preventing PTSD. Research indicates that the drug could effectively be used to treat PTSD.

In short, family therapy, medication, communication, and supportive parents can all ease the pain of divorce, especially if it appears to be a traumatic event for children and teens.

Divorce Can Be Traumatic for Teens and Children – Part One

This two article series will explore how parental divorce can be a traumatic event for children and teens. It will take a close look at the psychological illness of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), its symptoms, and what to do about it.

Parental divorce is commonly listed as a cause of trauma, among other events such as a car accident, death in the family, physical violence, or witnessing violence at home or in school. However, the effects of a traumatic event on children and teens will be different for each child. For instance, depending on the severity of the event, the resiliency of the person, their psychological makeup, conditioning, ethnicity, and other factors, the event can leave severe effects on the psyche. It can cause anxiety and depression.

When the foundation of a family is threatened, the psychological and emotional well being of children and teens can also be threatened. Research shows that teens that experience a divorce experience emotional loss and suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. Furthermore, the instability of the family structure might lead to drug experimentation and using substances as a way to cope with difficult feelings.

In addition to the symptoms just mentioned, a child’s beliefs about life and the way the world is ordered can change instantly. A deep trust in the world prior to trauma can easily turn into distrust of other people, certain circumstances, and even oneself. This can be especially true if trauma repeats itself, such as witnessing death in war or ongoing sexual abuse by a family member. Repeated trauma can cause a worsening of anxiety, feeling a constant high level of alert and paranoia.

Parts of the brain to do with memory functioning can shrink with repeated trauma, making it difficult to form new memories. Although typically divorce is thought of as a one time event, the conflict and tension between parents, and perhaps fighting between them can feel like repeated trauma for their children.

This article has listed some of the traumatic effects of parental divorce. The next article in this series will discuss what children, teens, and parents can do to avoid these harmful effects when a divorce is taking place.