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Children and Divorce- A Major Adjustment

We’ve seen the statistics- almost 50% of marriages in America end in divorce. Sometimes divorce is needed for safety reasons, sometimes couples may not know how to communicate to work through differences, and sometimes there may be other issues. No matter the cause, children are affected. There is much evidence pointing to the potential difficulty that divorce can post for children.  Children who experience their parents’ divorce have increased risk of the following:

  • Physical issues such as asthma and headaches
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Speech problems
  • Developmental issues
  • Dropping out of school
  • Leaving home early
  • Fewer skills and
  • Lower future pay.

Children who experience their parents’ divorce are 4x more likely to have relational issues with friends and peers than children whose parents stayed together. Even years later, children of divorce have shown a tendency toward being more unhappy, lonely, insecure, and anxious.

It is important to remember that these are statistics- likelihood, risk, and potential. Not all children who experience a family divorce will experience these negative effects…but many do. We want to partner with you and your family to help lessen the likelihood that they will have more difficulty.  IDEALS counselors have resources that can be helpful for couples who want to work to develop their relationship (and therefore help parents not divorce) or for children who may need help adjusting to the major life change of divorce. We work to strengthen the parent-child bond and help a child work through emotional issues. Contact us for more information about how we can be of service to you and your family.

“That Milkshake Is Calling My Name!”

“I have an itch I MUST scratch!” “I just HAVE to check Facebook/email/Twitter…again!” “I NEED that drink!”  “I just HAVE to tell that person what I think about them right NOW!” “That milkshake is calling my name; I MUST answer!”

How many times have you had these or similar thoughts? Maybe it was less of a cohesive thought and more of a strong, urgent feeling.  That strong, urgent feeling is just an impulse. There are times when giving in to an impulse may be ok, but many times, giving in to our impulses can get in the way of us reaching our goals, changing habits, or making more constructive choices.  What can we do when an impulse strikes again? Let’s use the example of someone wanting a large milkshake but also wanting to make more healthy choices.

1) Recognize that that strong desire to (insert undesirable action here) is just an IMPULSE.
“The milkshake is NOT actually calling my name. (Milkshakes can’t talk!) This feeling is just an impulse. I do not have to give in right now.”

2) Think about your choices.  Since it is just an impulse, you do have a choice of what to do.  What are your options?
“I do not have to get the milkshake. I could distract myself until the urge lessens.”

3) Imagine what is likely to happen if you follow each option.
“If I drink the whole thing, I might enjoy it for the moment, but I may regret it later. If I distract myself, I may gain a better sense of self-control, feel proud of myself, and be closer to my health goal.”

4) Make the choice that seems best at the end of the day and follow through unless you have good reason to change your mind.
“I choose to not give in to the impulse and get the milkshake. I believe that, at the end of the day, this is the best choice for me today.”

5) If you get upset, take a small time-out to calm yourself down and think about the greater reward to come.
“I really want that milkshake, but I’m going to do some deep breathing and imagine how I will feel a month from now if I keep it up.”

Recognizing that an impulse is JUST AN IMPULSE can be a very freeing experience, and with practice, it can become a regular way of thinking. As you recognize impulses for what they are, you may find yourself seeing your options more easily, taking time to weigh your options, and making decisions that will get you closer to your goals.

(Adapted from our Back On Track resiliency curriculum by Mary Ortwein, Sharon Bryant, and Benita Peoples)