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Dates to remember

Oct. 18: Backgrounding cattle seminar, New Salem fairgrounds

Oct, 20: SPLIT showing and discussion, 2 p.m., Morton Mandan Public Library

Nov. 8, 15: Parents Forever, Mandan

Nov 15: 4-H volunteer training, Glen Ullin

Many of us know a family that has experienced separation or divorce. It can be a time when parents and caregivers feel lost or unsure what steps to take or how best to support the children involved. The dictionary defines divorce as the “legal dissolution of a marriage that results in a complete or radical separation of closely connected people.” However, this definition barely describes the change, emotion or stress often linked with the divorce or separation. For children, it is not just family members moving or schedules changing, but it is a period of time filled with strong emotions and major family changes.

Divorce launches children into the experience of living in two worlds with parents who may have differing values, interests or ways of living. As much as possible, parents who can sustain some consistency such as similar rules or expectations for their children can help them adapt. When seeking to understand a child’s experience of divorce, adults must be aware of the experience from a child’s point of view rather than an adult’s perspective.

Some of the issues adults must face in the process of divorce are:

* Deciding where to live as a family member.

* Planning what school the child(ren) will attend.

* Managing court processes and decisions.

* Dividing property.

* Providing for household expenses.

* Giving sufficient daily care to children.

In contrast, children may face more internal issues that include the following:

* Grieving about the physical absence of a parent.

* Coping with the stress of multiple changes at once.

* Seeking some sort of control over the situation.

* Accepting reassurance that they are not at fault.

Adults must understand that the issues occupying them may be quite different than the concerns of their children. One thing we know, children of all ages need to hear frequently that they are still loved despite the changes in family life. There are many resources available to learn more about how to support children during these changes.

The Morton Mandan Public Library will host a viewing of “SPLIT: A Film for Kids of Divorce” (and their parents), which gives the children’s perspective on divorce. The showing is at 2 p.m. Saturday. Liz Larson from the Parent and Family Resource Center will lead a subsequent discussion and suggest books, resources, etc.

A two-night series for parents called Parents Forever is scheduled in Mandan on Nov. 8 and 15. This is an opportunity to gain additional information while meeting other parents going through a separation or divorce. Registration is required; call 701-667-3342 or email Liz.Larson@ndsu.edu.

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Liz Larson is the parent educator for the NDSU Extension Parent Resource Center Region VII. Larson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Luther College in Iowa and started with Extension in 2016.

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