Divorce is an increasingly common experience for children. In fact, according to the Census Bureau (2008), an estimated one million children are part of families who divorce annually. Currently 26% of all children under the age of 18 live in a single-parent household and 16% of children are part of a blended family, (Census Bureau, 2008) Children adjust successfully to divorce and separation when they maintain a close, personal and supportive relationship with both parents and have parents who can cooperate with one another in a non-conflicted way. Fond du Lac County Family Court Services and Family Living Educator Shelley Tidemann in partnership, help nearly 300 separated and divorcing parents annually understand how to keep their children out of the middle of their divorce process. “Living Apart, Parenting Together” is held the 2nd Thursday of each month for separated and divorcing parents. The three hour session addresses the following objectives:
- Explore the short and long term effects of divorce on children
- Review common reactions to divorce by children at different age levels
- Recognize and understand how to keep children out of the middle
- Practice strategies which improve communication and facilitate child focused decision making
- Understand legal terminology related to co-parenting
- Develop a parenting plan and make decisions together for what is best for child
Those attending the co-parenting program report increased awareness and willingness to use “I” messages, to help the child have a positive relationship with the other parent, and to talk directly to each other rather than using the child to communicate.