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Should So Many Couples Choose Divorce?

From the Huffington Post

Deborah Moskovitch

Divorce Coach, Author, Speaker, Guide, Radio Host

Should So Many Couples Choose Divorce?

Posted: 01/15/2013 12:17 pm

*This article first appeared on more.ca

Have you ever stopped to ponder why the divorce rate has risen so dramatically over the past 50 years? When my parents married in the 1950s the divorce rate was minimal. According to Statistics Canada, in 1951 there were only 5,270 divorces in all of Canada. The number rose dramatically to a staggering 70,226 divorces in 2008 — a whopping 1,232 per cent increase in total divorces over 50 years.

This compares with an increase in the total population of only 139 per cent. Divorce was a rare event previous to the first world war with a rate of less than one per 1,000 of the yearly number of marriages, says Stats Can. And I suspect the statistics are not too dissimilar in the U.S., although the hard numbers are usually ten times that of what occurs in Canada. For example, the number of divorces in the U.S. in 2008 was reported at 840,000, by CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System.

There has been significant progress in divorce reform, making it easier and fairer to obtain. Researchers would most likely agree that not only has divorce become more socially acceptable, but divorce laws have also changed to provide a more equitable resolution for many since the late 1960s. The amendment to the Divorce Act to permit the reason for divorce as no-fault (in other words, no-blame divorce) has radically altered the factors influencing the decision to divorce.

In other words, divorce has become less of a stigma — you don’t have to prove fault, and there is more fairness in addressing financial concerns for the disadvantaged spouse. In addition, there has been extensive research on the impact of divorce upon the family, children, social outcomes and so much more.

This learning has enabled the development of more effective resources to help the divorcing individual. No longer does one feel forced to stay in a marriage when there is a serious breach of trust, or any kind abuse. These are very positive outcomes of divorce reform.

The grass isn’t always greener, so why the high divorce rate?

But, knowing what we do — that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, that divorce can be hard on children, lifestyle is often diminished, and the divorce rate rises with each subsequent marriage — why is the divorce rate still so high? Has the traditional wedding vow promising to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health until death do us part lost its meaning? Or, have expectations about marriage and what we want out of a partner changed over the years, resulting in this dramatic rise in divorce.

Choosing to divorce is certainly not an easy decision. For most, the decision to divorce is a result of a great deal of soul searching and questioning. While the legal system for divorce is far from perfect, it is significantly better than it was in the 1950s. But, upon closer examination, it appears that changing attitudes towards relationships and marriage have impacted the divorce rate over the last 50 years. I spoke with one of the foremost sociologists and researchers in North America, Dr. Paul Amato, who has conducted extensive research on marital quality and stability.

To read the whole article and view the HuffPost slide show click here


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Parenting Tips for Transforming Your Family

Make a family calendar and hang it wherever the children will see it, to show that you care. Make your children see that their lives are important to you and that they are your priority.

On the family calendar, list:

  • birthdates
  • school schedules
  • other dates, such as dental appointments, dance recitals, sports games, and so on.

Establish rules such as the following:

  • Each parent must order his or her own tickets for children’s events.
  • Each parent must make his or her own arrangements at school to get information.
  • It is not up to your former spouse to do those things or provide information for you.
  • It’s up to you to take the initiative.
  • Don’t make your son or daughter into the man or woman of the house.
  • Don’t turn your son or daughter into your best friend and confidant.
  • Don’t fill the void in your bed by allowing your child to sleep there. If you eventually start a relationship and no longer allow your child into your bed because you are sharing it with someone else, the child could feel displaced.

If you are the noncustodial parent, here are some ideas to help you maintain a positive relationship with your children:

  • Some schools allow children to leave the grounds for lunch; you may be able to take them out to lunch without affecting the custodial parent’s time. (Generally speaking, permission might be needed if it is a sole custody arrangement and the non-custodial parent wishes to exercise access.)
  • As much as you can, duplicate at your home the little things that your kids love at the custodial parent’s home–things like special Barbie dolls, books, and so on. Send out the message that you care. Duplicating items will remove the stress children may feel about taking their favorite things to the other parent’s home or about forgetting to bring them (but keep in mind that some items, like the favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can’t be duplicated).

Here are some ideas on how to maintain connections with teenagers:

  • Check in with your kids via their cell phones and e-mail accounts to just to say, “What’s up?”; “How was your day?”; and so forth. Checking in helps ensure that you have as much input with your kids as their friends do.
  • Be flexible; be an open door. Invite kids over either after school or for a few hours on the weekend, or just to have dinner, rather than for the full evening or weekend. You can say, “You are welcome the entire weekend, but I won’t be upset if you want to be with your friends; you tell me if it fits in. If not, and you want to be with your friends, I’ll drive you.” If you pressure your kids to give up time with their friends in order to be with you, it will only backfire, causing your children to avoid you.
  • If there are big differences in ages between siblings, plan one-on-one time with each child.

Source: The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors, and Other Expert (Chicago Review Press, 2007)


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It’s back to school: developing routine and structure for parents

As I prepare my children to transition from the spontaneity of life in the summer to the structure of school it occurred to me how they need to get back into routine. Not only is it important for our children to be in the habit of schedules, but the aspect of shared parenting needs to be formalized once again; especially if life has been a bit off kilter as our children are at camp, have their own activities without parents or in holiday mode.

If you are the resident parent where the children live most of the time, then not much will change.  However, if your children don’t live with you most of the time, here are some ideas to consider to maintaining involvement in your children’s lives:

Parenting Tips for Transforming Your Family

Make a family calendar and hang it wherever the children will see it, to show that you care. Make your children see that their lives are important to you and that they are your priority.

On the family calendar, list:

  • birthdates
  • school schedules
  • other dates, such as dental appointments, dance recitals, sports games, and so on.

Establish rules such as the following:

  • Each parent must order his or her own tickets for children’s events.
  • Each parent must make his or her own arrangements at school to get information.
  • It is not up to your former spouse to do those things or provide information for you.
  • It’s up to you to take the initiative.
  • Don’t make your son or daughter into the man or woman of the house.
  • Don’t turn your son or daughter into your best friend and confidant.
  • Don’t fill the void in your bed by allowing your child to sleep there. If you eventually start a relationship and no longer allow your child into your bed because you are sharing it with someone else, the child could feel displaced.

If you are the noncustodial parent, here are some ideas to help you maintain a positive relationship with your children:

  • Some schools allow children to leave the grounds for lunch; you may be able to take them out to lunch without affecting the custodial parent’s time.
  • As much as you can, duplicate at your home the little things that your kids love at the custodial parent’s home–things like special Barbie dolls, books, and so on. Send out the message that you care. Duplicating items will remove the stress children may feel about taking their favorite things to the other parent’s home or about forgetting to bring them (but keep in mind that some items, like the favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can’t be duplicated)

Remember, your children still have two parents.  They still have a family, it’s the dynamics which have changed and up to parents to minimize the conflict and make transition as easy as possible.


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New school year, renwened relationships…..

New School Year, Renewed Relationships……

The Calendar Year Starts in

September for Many Families

 

One of the most serious fall-outs of divorce is the loss or diminished child/parent relationship. While some relationships might end as a result of parent alienation http://blog.thesmartdivorce.com/2008/02/18/the-meaning-of-family/- a common reason, often overlooked is “realistic estrangement” – when a child chooses to end, or reduce the time spent with a parent. The reasons are varied and may include ineffective parenting, substance abuse and domestic violence.

How do you maintain a relationship with your children, when their priorities change from family time, to focus on school and friends?

1. Re-frame your thinking – don’t measure time spent with your children in quantity – minutes and hours, but in terms of the quality of time you are spending.

2. Be creative – keep the relationship going by doing what is in their best interest – driving them to programs, helping them with homework, ask them what they need from you. By doing so, you get to know who their friends are, understand what they are doing at school, and you will open up conversation.

3. Let them know you care – create a family calendar. A schedule of extracurricular programs, events and school events will allow you to stay connected. It will also send a positive message that you want to stay involved.

4. Get with the program – children communicate through many mediums – text messaging, instant messaging, phone and more. Staying connecting on their terms goes a long way to maintaining a healthy positive relationship. Learn the texting short forms. It’s their language and you need to know it.
5.  Be introspective
 – If you find your children withdrawing from a relationship with you, ask yourself “what am I doing?” to contribute to this dynamic. For instance:

     a. Do you put your needs before your children’s needs?
     b. Is your behaviour affecting the relationship – alcohol or substance abuse, anger management issues, domestic violence, and more- seek out the help you need to get your life in order so that you can become a good role model and better parent. 
     c. Is your new partner (if you have one) affecting this relationship?
     d. Have you ignored the relationship because of your relationship with your new family (if you remarried, or are living with someone)? Think about the damage you are doing to your children from your first family.

Don’t allow yourself or your children lose interest in the relationship. Children are the ones who live out the divorce. As parents, we owe it to our children to give them the best life possible, not a life filled with complications, despair, and a feeling of not being wanted. Children ARE the greatest love of all let them learn and lead the way.  And in the process you have developed a bond to last a lifetime.

 


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Children’s Bill of Rights from…..

Children’s Bill of Rights

from DivorceHQ.com

Here is another Children’s Bill of Rights which I came across and should help divorcing parents think about what the best interests of the children really mean and other ideas to accomplish this.

We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.

  1. The right not to be asked to “choose sides” or be put in a situation where I would have to take sides between my parents.
  2. The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
  3. The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
  4. The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
  5. The right not to be a messenger.
  6. The right to express my feelings.
  7. The right to adequate visitation with the non-custodial parent which will best serve my needs and wishes.
  8. The right to love and have a relationship with both parents without being made to feel guilty.
  9. The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
  10. The right to the same educational opportunities and economic support that I would have had if my parents did not divorce.
  11. The right to have what is in my best interest protected at all times.
  12. The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities for the sake of the parent’s well being.
  13. The right to request my parents seek appropriate emotional and social support when needed.
  14. The right to expect consistent parenting at a time when little in my life seems constant or secure.
  15. The right to expect healthy relationship modeling, despite the recent events.
  16. The right to expect the utmost support when taking the time and steps needed to secure a healthy adjustment to the current situation.

Please realize that this is NOT law, anywhere. The “Children’s’ Bill of Rights” is not legally enforceable, but rather suggestions made to keep the best interest of the child a priority.


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Putting your children’s best interests first

The Best Interests of Your Children

 

While conducting some research for an upcoming book within The Smart Divorce® series I had an interesting conversation with a child protection lawyer about the best interests of the children. From this lawyer’s perspective and what I see in my consulting practice and watching what goes on around me, we agreed that people often talk about it, but don’t necessarily do it – that is put their children’s best interests first. What does best interest of the children really mean? Is it fitting your schedule into your children’s or the other way around?

Defining Children’s Best Interest

There are many definitions as to what best interest means. The Geneva Convention defines it as acknowledging that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, his or her own name and identity, to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping and have a relationship with both parents, even if that means they live in two different households. It sounds straightforward, but it isn’t necessarily that easy because divorce is complicated by emotions. And – these emotions if not managed, can impair your parenting skills – causing you to think you are putting your children’s best interest first, but many parents are not! This can happen when parents are overwhelmed with their own emotions causing their parenting skills to be weakened.

Simply put, the best interests of the children means doing what is best for your children. How do you achieve this when you might be feeling raw and bitter? You need to:

  • deal with your emotions (use your support network for help such as a therapist, clergy, support groups, friends and family)
  • Put your emotions on the shelf so that you can be the best parent for you children.
  • Let your children participate in activities and do what they would normally have done if you were married.

 

Children should not be punished because an

activity falls on one parent or the others time

While a parent might be supportive of an extra curricular activity, they don’t let the children participate because it falls on their time – thinking that it is punishing the other parent, when actually it is the children who suffer.

You need to recognize, that children are not possessions they are not “my children, not your children”– they still have 2 parents, you need to reframe your thinking into these children being our children.


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If there is nothing to fix, then it’s not broken……

My home is run down, but

it’s not broken…

The cabinet door in my kitchen has fallen off the hinge, the hot water tank just burst, the fridge door won’t close properly and I need a new roof. But while my home is in need of physical repair, it certainly does not need emotional repair.

I wrote about this in my book, The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors and Other Experts

 

 

You wouldn’t believe how many people it resonated with.

I’m divorced, but I don’t have a

“broken home”

Perhaps I’m sensitive, but I don’t consider my children to be growing up in a “broken home.” When I talk to my children, we call ourselves a family because that’s what we are.

We do not compare ourselves to more “traditional” families with two parents living at home. Divorce may change a family’s structure, but we’re still a family. All families ­­– so-called “traditional” families and the rest of us – all have challenges, no matter how our living arrangements are configured.

Make life work for your kids

As a parent, your challenge is to make life work for your kids. Ensure they don’t view themselves as disadvantaged or as “children of divorce.” They’re regular children.

When I glimpse into families with two parents living at home, my home often appears to be working wonderfully well.

I may be a bit more frazzled than someone in a home with two parents living there – but that’s because of the practical everyday exigencies of life with three active children. (And who really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Just because there are two parents, does that always mean both parents share all the responsibilities? Don’t compare!)

There’s no one to share the driving with

I often have to be in two places at the same time. I run a business, but I still have to manage my personal affairs – on my own. So while I might be a bit more stressed (Did I mention I’m an A type personality?) my children are growing up in a healthy and loving environment.

I have house rules, set curfews (although I have been a bit lax at times), my children must get their homework done, and I’m always there to kiss them goodnight and listen to their worries.

Think about a few things…

What about blended families? Does blending suddenly unbreak “broken homes”?

What about the blended families where the culture is more like oil and water?

How about a family where both parents are living together but constantly fighting?

Or a family where both parents live together but one parent is never at home? Always working, always away on weekends and never around for the kids.

Constance Ahrons ,author of the highly praised books, We’re Still Family and The Good Divorce calls a single parent household a binuclear family –– a much healthier way to view a single parent household.

 

So, what do we call ourselves – FAMILY. A wonderful, supportive family, that is who we are.