Yes, You Can Raise Happy Children after Divorce

When we first started discussing divorce, our son was the reason I told myself we couldn’t do it. Yes, my own parents divorced when I was five, and I’m fine. Or fine enough. I’m certainly as fine as most people I know. When I look around at my friends, I can’t point to any divide in happiness, success or marital status between those whose parents divorced and those whose didn’t.

But still. Wouldn’t our son be more fine if we stayed married?

Not according to four decades of research. Ideally, perhaps, we’d all awaken to a happy, harmonious marriage simmering on the hearth, casting a protective net over our children, but if you’ve reached the point of divorcing, this is not your other option.

Nor is it what kids need to thrive. Research shows that about 80-percent of children of divorce do well in life. They adapt, and see no lasting negative effects on their grades, social adjustment, or mental health. These findings arrive from a variety of sources, including a 20-year study done by psychologist Constance Ahrons, published as the book We’re Still Family. (For help on your own divorce, check out Ahrons’ book, The Good Divorce.) 

Read More
Getting Along Better, Post-Divorce, Self-Care

The Principles of Parting

As you start on this path, you may find yourself scared or overwhelmed, and forget your vision of a more positive future. Principles are guideposts that help keep us on course in trying times. I developed my principles over the first two years of my separation. Yours may be different, but having them is important.

I finally settled on Seven Principles of Parting. Here they are:

Principle #1: Commit to self-compassion

A composite idea borrowed from Buddhism, self-compassion includes seeing your problems as part of the universal human struggle, remaining calm and mindful in the face of a negative experience rather than letting it overwhelm or define you, and viewing yourself with understanding and forgiveness.

Read More
Family & Friends, Parenting

Five Tips for Parenting, Post-Marriage

Divorce is no one’s Plan A. But it is possible to create a fabulous Plan B — even for your children.

As parents, we can establish rhythms and routines for our newly-structured family that preserve many of the treasured aspects of the old — and create new ones. Some people say that they’ve become better parents, post-marriage. One reason? They treasure their time with their children even more, and pay more attention while with them.

Parenting while divorced may require new education, extra attention paid to your own mental and physical state, and to your children’s. You don’t want to take a “head in the sand” approach, being so enamored of your aspirations for a good divorce that you fail to notice when your kids need help. But nor should you consider them lifelong victims because their parents did not stay married.

There are a lot of reasons to feel hopeful for our children. Here are five Good Parenting Intentions we can set for ourselves:

Read More