The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas


June 5, 2006

6-4 Apparently So parenting column by Craig Harris

Today, about half of the children in the United States live in a household where a divorce has occurred. This is not the end of the world; you and I can think of worse things happening, but divorce adds another layer of challenges to the lives of the children.

When parents divorce, the children often feel personally responsible for the breakup. It is important that they are told early and often that it was not their fault. Beyond the emotional pain, they are forced to adjust to lifestyle changes that would be stressful to even the most well-adjusted adults. They may live with a single mom, or a blended family where each parent has certain baggage from the past.

Many live part of the time with each parent and have to continually move back and forth. Kids are resilient, but this continual uprooting can be unsettling. I saw a family on TV this week that allows the daughter to stay in the house and her parents take turns spending the week with her. To me, that seems more fair, but usually impractical.

Children in a divorce may have to adjust to their mom’s new boyfriend or dad’s dating lifestyle. And children living with single mothers are more likely to live in poverty than any other group. I don’t know how single, working mothers do it, but I have tremendous respect for them for accomplishing all they do.

So, divorce can be difficult on children — and can hurt their grades, learning and social growth. Our challenge as parents is to provide our children with the best home possible so they can grow up healthy, well-adjusted and strong. If divorce has occurred, the challenges are greater, but with love and care, we can provide a happy and healthy home for our children.

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