Based on my personal experience, and what I’ve seen from others who also experienced divorce or parental separation, it is my belief that children of divorce aren’t an overnight curable illness, but a process that lasts a lifetime. Some divorce or separation is necessary as to the abuse, drugs, and other harmful acts within the home. Regardless the reason for separation, the affected child never reaches their full potential. I too experienced parental separation at the age of 4 years old. I can remember not seeing my dad for days, and then weeks, to now it’s been over 5 years since I have seen or even spoken to him. At the age of 9 is when I can remember to question and ask about why my father is no longer in the picture. Some of the thoughts that would arise were, “Is it me?” Was I the cause of their separation?” He never assured me that he loved me or cared about me during those most important years. He never came to my football games to encourage me to push hard. When I look at my peers family structure, they all had a father there to support them and encourage them during those times. It never dawned on me that they may have questioned where my father was. Divorce is a personal choice made by each parent for their own best interest and not the child’s. When a family splits apart it automatically sends signals to the child that one of the parents no longer cares or values them. According to Kelly and Emery (2003) report that on average, nonresidential fathers see their children only 4 times per month following divorce and about 20% of children have no contact with their fathers 2-3 years after divorce. In contrast, non-residential mothers visit their children more frequently and are less likely to cease contact.
As I reflect and think back to the times of feeling alone, nothing can equate to the desire of having a father figure there. My biggest challenges were to compensate for the absence of my father to make me feel valued. Statistics show that children of similar circumstances utilize money, drugs, and promiscuity to fulfill these voids and needs. Children that live in intact families often experience these as well but those who are of a divorce guarantee these experiences.
Every child must have a balance of love and discipline from both mother and father. A separation reduces their discipline and forces the parent to avoid conflict to focus more on the immediate quality that’s being omitted from the child’s life. Those moments are needed as well in a child’s life. The absent parent never has to tell the child to turn off the TV and do homework, get up for school, because he/she isn’t there on school nights.
So much of life’s lessons has been lost and skills that would have been learned are no longer apart of the blueprint. School doesn’t teach these one-on-one coruses and its too late once in college to learn the basics of life. A mother and father exposes the child to those things that give them a balanced life. Without the whole family there are holes in the basics to be learned.
According to (Kidshealth 2015) As soon as you’re certain of your plans, talk to your kids about your decision to live apart. Although there’s no easy way to break the news, if possible have both parents there for this conversation. It’s important to try to leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it. Practice how you’re going to manage telling your kids so you don’t become upset or angry during the talk. Involving the child is key to helping them adjust to all the changes that will affect them during the separation process. When my parents separated I lived with my mother who wore the hat of both during my years with her. I wasn’t a part of the process therefore it left many questions unanswered. Children don’t need all the information but to prepare them for the upcoming changes in their lives is vital.. All that’s needed to be understood is that there are changes going to be made and that it won’t affect the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. Exposure to both physical and mental illnesses originate in the traumatic loss of both parents through separation or divorce.
One of the effects of experiencing a divorce is a lack of communication skill between he or she mate in parallel to their parents when they reach adult hood. Being able to communicate that he/she is about to get married, or even communicate properly with their new mate could be an issue. The adjustment to becoming married themselves will be a challenge as they have no blueprint to model their new behaviors. Therefore parents should be alert to signs of distress in their child or children. Young children may react to divorce by becoming more aggressive and uncooperative or by withdrawing. Older children may feel deep sadness and loss. Their schoolwork may suffer and behavior problems are common. As teenagers and adults, children of divorce can have trouble with their own relationships and experience problems with self-esteem according to (AACAP, 2015).
As we begin to look at ways to solve the most common effects of divorce in children such as the fear of abandonment, truancy, changes in academics, disorganized behavior, and triangulation, I will uncover one of the most preventive methods used in managing behaviors in children of parental separation and divorce. The Preventive Triangulation Methodology is a study of processes that reduce external and internal conflicts within divorce settings to discover solutions and reduce the impact of stress in a practical environment. PTM also increases loyalty and reduces the fear of abandonment by both parents within these processes. By identifying these possibilities within the early stages of the PTM process you will also increase their rate of having a successful marriage transitioning into adulthood. One reason children act out their feelings is because they haven’t developed the necessary skills to communicate their feelings to an adult or their parents. So in turn the child may develop behavior issues at school that reflects in their grades, become socially isolated, or use drugs. The Preventive Triangulation Methodology consists of 3 different processes that identify and eliminate external and internal conflicts. The first process of PTM is to Identify Triggers. Self-awareness is the first and most crucial element that identifies what causes an individual to become angry or upset. So when a couple is experiencing a divorce or separation, the child should not be exposed to the negative interactions during the separation. By exposing the child to the upset parent or even the legalities of the divorce will trigger a disorganized behavior pattern and result in loss of loyalty to either one or both parents that onsets Triangulation. That’s why PTM is widely used to prevent such behaviors early in the pre-divorce process. PTM walks the couple through each phase of a divorce and identifies the what, when, and most importantly the how to communicate the separation in the most effective way possible without stress. Other programs and divorce models don’t give parents a roadmap to a successful divorce with a focus on child acceptance. One of the effects of experiencing a divorce is a lack of communication skill between he or she mate in parallel to their parents when they reach adulthood. Being able to communicate that he/she is about to get married, or even communicate properly with their new mate could be an issue. The adjustment to becoming married themselves will be a challenge as they have no blueprint to model their new behaviors. Therefore parents should be alert to signs of distress in their child or children. Young children may react to divorce by becoming more aggressive and uncooperative or by withdrawing. Older children may feel deep sadness and loss. Their schoolwork may suffer and behavior problems are common. As teenagers and adults, children of divorce can have trouble with their own relationships and experience problems with self-esteem according to (AACAP, 2015).
The Preventive Triangulation Methodology (PTM) is designed for the family that recognizes the need for a preventive method as well as the family who are looking for a set of process to have a successful and smooth transition. These set of processes are:
1. Phase of Understanding – This phase contributes the beginning of a counseling phase that helps the child understand what’s going on between their parents. Involving the child in the process allows them to understand what is happening, what will happen, and how they will become affected by the separation. This is crucial in the homes where the child may experience their parents emotional and psychological states diminishing. This phase also identifies the child behavior and exposes the data to establish self-awareness of the disorganized behavior.
2. Phase of Reassurance – This phase is considered the mending of the minds. Here we conduct group meetings and discuss issues with the child to encourage trust and loyalty among parent and child. Triangulation is the result of disloyalty and trust for a parent and the child chooses one over the other. Here we encourage a positive environment to experience both parents discussing the separation to reassure the child care will continue uninterrupted. Adult children of divorce often carry the baggage of their parents’ divorce and their distrust of relationships with a significant other into their own courtship and marriage. They tend to view, consciously or unconsciously, relationships and marriage as temporary, unstable and threatening. They are often simply waiting for betrayal and rejection by their partner or spouse. Because of those fears, they often completely avoid a potentially permanent, committed relationship and end up either simply alone or going through a series of uncommitted, shallow relationships (Thomas Merrill)
3. Phase of Continuous Reassurance – This final phase has a life cycle that continues until the child transitions into an adult. The reevaluation is done every 3 years to discover new and defeated behaviors. As the child transitions into a more independent role with children we work with that adult and their child to look for any patterns of disorganized behavior.
These set of processes are essential to a full recovery or preventive method to ensure continued trust and loyalty between child and non-custodial parents. The divorce consists of 6 stages that PTM addresses during the pre-divorce and post divorces stages. These stages include emotional, legal, economic, co-parental, community, and psychic divorce. The emotional stage is a time when one or both parents are emotionally withdrawn from the relationship. During this period there is a loss of mutual respect, trust and affection. The legal stage can be quite challenging especially when property and children are involved. When trying to settle these issues, the couples are highly involved with the lawyers who advocate their client’s interest generally without regard to the other parent. The legal aspects can be an expensive plan. The economic stage consists of the settlement of property, the co-parental stage involves decisions concerning child custody, and the community stage involves changing social relationships. Usually the friends and family of the spouse are lost as a result of the separation.. In this stage of divorce, the couples experience a state of isolation and loneliness. The psychic divorce stage, the last of them all, is the redefining of self, the process of returning to singlehood. This process takes time and involves a distancing from and an acceptance of the break-up. The stage is similar to experiencing a death where the spouse distances themselves and accepts the breakup. The recovery time varies from individual to individual depending on the variables of the relationship.
Understanding the stages of a divorce is vital to the PTM process to know where each relationship lies within the divorce lifecycle. Upon the initial counseling meeting we are able to assess the individuals to make appropriate decisions to work with each client. We work with our clients throughout the entire lifecycle of the divorce to ensure the children of the transitioned divorced child to adulthood don’t repeat the cycle. Other programs only offer conflict resolution, parenting basics, and how to maintain positive parenting during stressful situations. We offer much more than the cookie cutter sessions and get to the bottom of what can resurface later in the child’s life and assist in monitoring their children as well for potential symptoms.
In conclusion, according to (Churchill, 2012) Regardless of age, children of divorce deeply resent the strains and difficulties which arise in long-held family celebrations, traditions, daily rituals, and special times, and rate these changes as major losses.60 Grown children continue to see their parents’ divorce very differently than do the parents. Judith Wallerstein, a clinical psychologist from San Francisco, was the first to disturb the nation in 1980 with her research on the effects of divorce on children.61 She found that 10 percent of children felt positively about their parents’ divorce, but 80 percent of the divorced mothers and 50 percent of the divorced fathers judged the divorce good for them 15 years after the divorce.