Successful Program for Divorced Moms and Kids

May 25, 2012 by  

Divorce has a real potential to disrupt the children involved. A new study sought to intervene early with the mothers and children and then, over time, follow their progress and measure the effectiveness of the intervention program.  The program was called New Beginnings and targeted 240 high risk

divorced families with children ages 9-12 years old at the time. It worked and the effects lasted. This is what they found 6 years later:

1. Kids had improved educational goals and job plans (although this could just be the effect of getting more mature)

2. The quality of mother/child relationship went UP

3. Better discipline

4. Arguing and acting out DOWN

5. Kid’s self esteem UP

6. Academic competence UP


What was the intervention plan?

1. 11 group sessions (5 specifically for mother/child relationship; 3 specifically for disciple)

2. 2 individual sessions for mom

3. Groups in which the kids practiced role playing, skill building as games, watched educational videos

4. Books for mom.

To me, this seems like a reasonable, simple, cheap plan that has a good chance. Why aren’t we doing it more often?

Source: Amanda Sigal et al in J. of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 41(2) 150-165, 2012.

Divorce Reading List For Kids

November 18, 2011 by  

People often ask me if I can recommend books for their children to read when the family is going through a divorce.  There are many out there and lots of useless ones so, when I find good books, I keep track of them. For starters, here is a list of good books about divorce compiled by Dr. Melissa Perrin.

An Egg is an Egg by Nicki Weiss       (ages 2 to 6)

Two Homes by Claire Mazurel         (ages 2 to 6)

Mama and Papa Bear Are Divorced     by Cornelia Spelman      (ages 3 to 8)

My Parents Are Divorced Too by Jan Blackstone et al

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary    (ages 7 – 12)

What Children Need to Know When Parents Get Divorced by William L. Coleman  For parents and kids to read together           

How It Feels When Parents Divorce     by Jill Krementz    (ages 7 – 17)

It’s Not Your Fault Koko Bear; A read-together book for parents and young children during divorce    by Vicky Lansky

What Can I Do?  A book for children of divorce  by Danielle Lowry  (ages 9 – 12)

If you are an early career clinician, a professor who teaches interviewing skills, or a clinical supervisor, you will find my newest book, “What Do I Say? The Therapist’s Guide To Answering Client’s Questions” (with C. Waehler, published by John Wiley, 2011) a  practical, useful addition to your library. 


Rebound Relationships

June 11, 2011 by  

I like the term rebound.  It has the feel of an automatic bounce which aptly describes rebound relationships.  Ricochet, recoil, return, spring back.  One thesaurus defines rebound as, “The act of flying back after collision.”  for our puposes, collision refers to the prior relationship as it crashed and burned.

Have you noticed that no one calls their next relationship a “rebound” until it fizzles under the weight of impossible expectations and assumptions?  During the time when the new and glorious relationship is in the discovery phase, the story is something like, “I learned from my break up. I knew what I was looking for.  I am not going to make the same mistake.”  That’s true – it is now time for new mistakes. After the rebound stops bouncing and falls flat, the story changes, “Oh yeah, sure that was just (the word ‘just’ diminishes the importance) a rebound.”

But let’s be honest here.  Rebound relationships are needed – they are healing, they fix up some of the hurts from the prior collision.  They are wonderful band aids.  When a relationship falls apart, it rarely falls peacefully and quietly.  Break ups are marked by pain, hurt, diminished self-esteem, serious questions about yourself, your ability to be a good partner, and loud recriminations.  You find yourself soul searching to figure out what went wrong.  Before or after you have finished blaming your partner, you also ask, “What’s wrong with me?”  You need solace and nothing, (except maybe chocolate and ice cream with raspberries) is better than reassurance in the form of another person who is different from your former love and who thinks that you are wonderful.

Generally, rebound partners, whether they are permanent or temporary, possess all the traits that you have been starving for – all the attributes that your prior love (or your prior relationship) did not have.  That is a lot of the appeal. Enjoy it! Feel desirable, loveable, smart, kind, helpful, or whatever you have been missing. Don’t even label it although I just did. You will learn a lot.  You will find some ways of being, feeling, and thinking that you missed so take it all in and say thank you.

Midlife Divorce

September 17, 2010 by  

Should you start over at midlife? Get a divorce and reinvent your life? This article asks the question, “Should I remodel my marriage or should I remarry? She  tries to present all sides. I was interviewed and took the position that self-reflection is necessary before making those types of major life decisions. You can read it by going to…