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Divorcing with children proclamationMayor Mike Schmitz of Dothan, Alabama signed a proclamation recognizing International Child Centered Divorce Month as requested by Audrey Silcox, Founder of Divorce Tool Box. International Child-Centered Divorce month promotes awareness to place children’s needs first when reaching decisions related to divorce or separation. Divorce Tool Box founder and Certified Divorce and Family Mediator, Audrey Silcox, offers tips good for any month to help parents keep focused on their children before and after divorce. With over a million children affected by divorce in the U.S. each year, Silcox says that a child-centered divorce is vital for parents, children, and society as a whole, both now and in the future.

January is named International Child-Centered Divorce Month because historically more divorces are filed during this month than any other.  Seven years ago divorce activist, Rosalind Sedacca, initiated National Child-Centered Divorce Month in the U.S., which has expanded around the world, where divorce experts are offering special educational events including teleseminars, workshops, discussion groups, and coaching aimed for divorced or soon-to-be divorced parents.  

One such U.S. expert is Audrey Silcox, a Certified Divorce and Family Mediator and founder of Divorce Tool Box, a division of Sildrey Corporation.  After 17 years of working with divorcing couples, she has witnessed first-hand how essential customized parenting plans are for children’s present and future well-being.   Via online divorce online program at www.divorcetoolbox.com, she makes her expertise available to individuals or couples before or after they enter the legal arena which can save time, money, and needless additional heartache and expense later if such plans are not carefully thought out.  

Says Silcox, “When children are involved in divorce, it is important to customize a custody and co-parenting plan that will withstand the test of time, minimizing changes in parents’ lives while also reducing the psychological impact of divorce in their children’s lives.  In fact, for many couples, the most difficult aspect of divorce is making these custody decisions that will forever change the circumstances and time spent with their children.”  

For children, these parental decisions and their aftermath can be even more heart wrenching.  According to the Center for Divorce Education, “research has shown that even five years after the breakup of the family, only about a third of the children affected can be described as doing especially well, meaning that they are able to cope successfully in most areas of life.  A final third are still intensely unhappy, dissatisfied with life and moderately to seriously depressed.”  

“In my experience,” adds Silcox, I’ve seen children who feel guilty thinking they may have caused their parents’ divorce, other children who strongly desire--despite a divorce being final--that their parents will reconcile, or worst of all, those children who feel trapped in the middle of parental conflict.  Clearly, the ability of parents to stay focused on the best interest of their children is of utmost importance.”

To that end, Audrey Silcox offers the following tips to help families not only survive divorce, but also reap the benefits of effective co-parenting.    

  1. Children of different ages will perceive and experience changes that divorce brings in different ways due to their age and cognitive ability.  Young children may experience regression, for example, while older children may resort to playing the role of caregiver to their parents in order to lend emotional support.  In any case, parents should be aware that each child will likely display different reactions to divorce due to the variables of personality, age, and cognitive development.     
  2. It is best that each parent communicate directly with the other when circumstances about their children arise, instead of sending messages through their children as a go-between.  When children verbalize messages from one parent to the other, emotional reactions by the receiving parent can result, causing the child to feel responsible, anxious, or stressed.  Parents can avoid this by communicating directly with each other either in person, or by phone, text, or email.  
  3. Maintaining similar expectations between homes create consistency which benefits not only children, but also their parents.  Children desire boundaries and consistent routines that establish a sense of security as well as known expectations in each home environment.  Of course, certain boundaries and expectations may need to be revisited over time, as children mature and their needs change.
  4. Unless divorced parents keep conflict to a minimum, their children may play the role of a mediator between them.  This may cause undue guilt and stress for the child who must then carry the extra burden of awareness of adult problems.   When a parental discussion involves a disagreement, it is best if parents do not discuss the matter in front of their children or where children can overhear one or both sides of the conversation.

In summary, says Silcox, “Particularly in my work experience, I’ve seen parents who keep focused on their children before and after divorce are much more successful at transitioning into the life of co-parenting, which is vital.  With the annual number of divorces now at 1.4 million in the U.S., according to ABC News on May 13, 2011, and according to the Coalition for Divorce Reform, over one million children being affected each year, it’s clear that child-centered divorces are the key to psychological and financial well-being, not only for divorced parents and their children, but also for society as a whole, both now and in the future.”  

All members of the family are affected when divorce occurs, learning how to plan wisely for each member as well as co-parent wisely is essential.  Visit our website today at www.divorcetoolbox.com to learn how we can assist your family.

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