Coral Springs

 

1725 N. University Drive

Suite 350

Coral Springs, FL 33071

Telephone: (954) 227-2700

Fax: (954) 227-2704

Linda Berlin, Psy.D.

&

Psychological Associates

Boca Raton

 

7000 W. Palmetto Park Road

Suite 407

Boca Raton, FL 33433

Telephone: (561) 347-0997

Fax: (561) 347-0996

 

Number of children in new divorces each year as of 1997:

1 million

Number of single parents:

Males: 2.04 million
Females: 9.68 million

Fatherless homes account for:

63% of youth suicides

90% of homeless/runaway children

85% of children with behavior problems

71% of high school dropouts

85% of youths in prison

well over 50% of teen mothers

Percentage of all households run by single dads:

1.9%

Estimated number of children involved in divorce in 1997:

1,075,000

Children under 18 years of age living with just one parent in 1998:

20 million (28%)

Percentage of children under 18 years of age living with both parents (2002):

69%

Percentage of children under 18 years of age living with mother only (2002):

23%

Percentage of children under 18 years of age living with father only (2002):

5%

Percentage of children under 18 years of age living with neither parent (2002):

4%

Percentage of children in single-parent homes living with their mother in 1998:

84%

Percentage of children living with single parents for whom no other adults were present in the household in 1998:

56%

Children under 18 living in the household of their grandparents in 1998:

4 million (6%)

Total families in which the child lived with two parents in 1997:

25.6 million

Total single fathers maintaining their own household:

1.786 million

(Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, Americans for Divorce Reform, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute for Equality in Marriage, American Association for Single People, Ameristat, Public Agenda)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHILDREN AND DIVORCE

By: Felicia Ann Tralongo, Psy.D.

Introduction

Divorce is an extremely stressful time for all members of the family.  Children are particularly vulnerable to very high levels of stress because, unlike adults, they often do not have the coping skills to manage their stress, the emotional resources to tolerate their pain, or the cognitive skills to make sense of what is happening. Unlike adults, they may not see that divorce may be the “right” or “best” thing to do for the family in certain circumstances.  They also have a difficult time maintaining a sense of hope and envisioning that things will eventually get better.

What is My Child Feeling?

Typically, children experience a great sense of alienation, loss, and grief.  Children may feel personally abandoned by a parent, may fear that their relationship with a particular parent is in jeopardy, or feel angry that their parents have made a decision that will alter their life in numerous ways.  It is not uncommon for children to hold on to fantasies that their parents will re-unite, even long after the divorce and even in spite of re-marriages.  It is also not uncommon for them to believe they have some level of responsibility for the divorce, even if they are re-assured otherwise.  Kids want to understand what is happening to them and may find very imaginative ways to fill in the gaps.  Talking to our children about the divorce is critical in helping them understand. 

What Are Some Signs To Look For That My Child Is Not Handling The Divorce Well?

The vast majority of children experience feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, and often guilt.  Children may become irritable, act out at home or school, cry, struggle with eating or sleeping, or have difficulty concentrating.  Their grades may fluctuate.   They may become angry or uncooperative, appear tense, or become more clingy.  All of these behaviors are normal

However, take note if they persist, become intense, and/or interfere with their normal functioning.  Signs that the divorce is being experienced as particularly traumatic includes withdrawal, excessive somatic complaints, a persistently pessimistic view of the future, significant irritability or aggressiveness, a fear of being alone or difficulty in separation situations, and regressive behavior. 

What Can I Do To Help My Child?

The key to helping children is making an effort to understand the divorce through their eyes and communicating with them consistently and creatively.  First, it is important that parents initiate the “divorce conversation” together.  Deciding beforehand what will be said and how questions will be answered will prepare you best for this difficult conversation.  Be prepared for all kinds of emotional and non-emotional reactions, remembering that your child’s age, personality, and coping style will dictate their response.

Continued conversation with your kids throughout the divorce process is essential. This means not waiting for special moments to communicate.  The talk they need can happen during playtime, car rides, even grocery shopping.  Avoid direct questions such as “how do you feel about the divorce?”.  Instead, allow them to express any and all feelings in whatever way fits them.   Parents must be good listeners and keen observers.  Remember that communication is also nonverbal, so be aware of the various ways your kids are expressing themselves. 

Conclusion

With patience and persistence, parents can understand their child’s unique experience of this difficult transition.  What kids need most from their parents is this understanding and a validation of their pain, combined with a consistent supply of emotional support, love, and a sense of security.

Parents must think proactively and preventatively.  Seeking professional help can avoid chronic and severe reactions, facilitate your child’s coping and adjustment, and ensure you maintain the best relationship with your child.  Remember, parents serve as powerful models of how to cope with difficulties, so your own emotional well being is paramount to helping your children.  Finally, remember to keep any turmoil or conflict away from the children and act as a co-parenting team to best address your child’s needs.

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To learn more about Dr. Tralongo click here or for additional information or assistance in meeting your child's needs during this difficult time, you can contact Dr. Felicia Tralongo at (954) 227-2700 or (561) 347-0997.

 

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