Psychological Self-Help

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suffering hurts and feeling angry, have been abandoned too easily, at
least in terms of the needs and preferences of the children. Many
unhappy, resentful parents opted for escape via divorce instead of
acquiring coping skills. The children paid a price. The researchers'
latest book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, offer some how-to
suggestions and stresses the importance of parents trying to repair
their marriages before filling for divorce. And there is a good chapter
for couples who are wondering whether to stay in an unhappy
marriage or to divorce. Obviously, some children of divorce do
overcome their fears and sorrows to become secure lovers and
partners but, as we have seen above, the data is not comforting. 
In summary, most children can probably handle a divorce if both
mom and dad continue being a close, supportive parent and if both
parents put their animosity and differences aside without involving the
children. It is important that the children get loving attention and
support from both parents, whether they are divorced or not. It is best
if the divorced parents can be fair and kind to each other. They can
even help the children see the many adjustment problems in
relationships and marriage, especially if the parents also reassure and
teach the children that there are successful coping techniques. It is
especially helpful, although often hard, if each partner can point out to
his/her children that their other parent has many good traits. Lastly,
remember, your children feel that half of them comes from your "ex,"
so badmouthing the "ex" is usually an insult or threat to your child's
self-esteem. 
 
Helpful books for children of divorce
We are just beginning to learn the complex consequences of a long
sequence of stressful events: marital problems, separation, divorce,
single-parenting, loss of the non-custodial parent, and remarriage. It is
knowledge we need to help the innocent victims of divorce--the
children--adjust to major losses. Because bitter divorces and,
essentially, abandonment of the child by a parent are so harmful,
many divorce courts require parents to take a parenting class. I think
it is a good idea. Both parents are urged to maintain close, meaningful
contact with the child (not just going to a show and McDonalds on
Saturday afternoon); ideally, both parents should provide extended
and coordinated child care, i.e. total parenting. The parents must learn
to be civil to each other; they should encourage the children to love
and be with the other parent. All this means that divorced parents
can't just avoid each other. They must talk, plan, decide, and work
together for the good of their children, just like one does with a good
babysitter. Society should expect nothing less from every parent,
divorced or not. If you can't control your emotions (by separating your
marital conflicts from your parenting role) to the degree necessary to
co-parent your children with your ex, get therapy--you have serious
emotional problems. 
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