Susan Cook Mediation and Family Counselling Services York Region, Simcoe County and Canada Wide

About the Children
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With the unfortunate, yet consistent rise in family breakdown, it is evident that the significant victims in this trend continues to be our children.


The effects of family breakdown on children are many fold with the major contributors being:


1. PARENTAL LOSS-- divorce often results in the loss of a parent for the children and with this loss children also lose the knowledge, skills and resources (emotional, financial, etc.) of that parent.

2. ECONOMIC LOSS-- another result of divorce is that children living in single parent families are less likely to have as many economic resources as children living in intact families.

3. MORE LIFE STRESS-- divorce often results in many changes in children's living situations such as changing schools, child care, homes, etc. Children often also have to make adjustments to changes in relationships with friends and extended family members. These changes create a more stressful environment for children.

4. POOR PARENTAL ADJUSTMENT-- generally how children fare in families is due in part to the mental health of the parents, this is likely to be true for children in divorced families as well.

5. LACK OF PARENTAL COMPETENCE-- much of what happens to children in general is related to the skill of parents in helping them develop. The competence of parents following divorce is likely to have considerable influence on how the children are doing.

6. EXPOSURE TO INTERPARENTAL CONFLICT-- conflict is frequently part of families and may be especially common in families that have undergone divorce. The degree to which children are exposed to conflict may have substantial effects on children's well-being.

Children's Bill of Rights

The AAML's booklet entitled "Stepping Back from Anger" contains a Bill of Rights useful to both parents and children. Make copies for you and your kids to read.

1. You have the right to love both your parents.
And you have the right to be loved by both of them. That means you shouldn't feel guilty about wanting to see your dad or you mom at any time. It's important for you to have both parents in your life, particularly during difficult times, such as divorce.

2. You do not have to choose one parent over the other.
If you have an opinion about which parent you want to live with, let it be known. But nobody can force you to make that choice. If your parents can't work it out, a judge may make the decision for them.

3. You're entitled to all the feelings you're having.
Don't be embarrassed by what you're feeling. It's scary when your parents break up, and you're allowed to be scared. Or angry. Or sad. Or whatever.

4. You have the right to be in a safe environment.
This means that nobody is allowed to put you in danger, either physically or emotionally. If one of your parents is hurting you, tell someone -- either your other parent or a trusted adult, like a teacher.

5. You don't belong in the middle of your parents' break-up.
Sometimes your parents get so caught up in their own problems that they forget that you're just a kid, and that you can't handle their adult worries.

6. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are still part of your life.
Even if you're living with one parent, you can still see relatives on your other parent's side. You'll always be a part of their lives, even if your parents aren't together anymore.

7. You have the right to be a child.
Kids shouldn't worry about adult problems. Concentrate on your school work, your friends, activities, etc. Your mom and dad just need your love. They can handle the rest themselves.

www.Families in Transition

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