What to tell the kids
November 30, 2010 4:29pm

The Tulsa World has one of those 'ask Abby' type column.  This one caught my eye, and I felt it had a very good message. 

Dad wonders when to disclose details of divorce     By Ask Amy

Published:  Tulsa World



Dear Amy:  My
6-year-old daughter recently asked me why her mother and I divorced. I didn't
know what to tell her. The truth is that my ex-wife left me for another man
whom my daughter has grown quite fond of. While I was incredibly hurt by how
the marriage ended, I do not want to be responsible for introducing issues
between my daughter and her mother (or the other man).I ended up saying that
she should talk to her mother about it. While that satisfied her for the
moment, I know the question is bound to come up again. Should I have just told
her the truth? If not now, would there ever be a time when she should hear why
her mother and I really split? I have always been honest with my daughter and
try to answer all her questions. I am disappointed in myself for copping out
and would hate for her to think she can't come to me for a real answer to her
most serious questions.  - 
Devoted Dad

Dear Dad:  I agree with you that you should
always tell your daughter the truth. Your
job is to be honest but also to protect your daughter's other
relationships  -  as well as you can.
At age 6, she is
too young to learn that her mother left you. You should discuss this with your
ex-wife. You and she should agree that you
want your daughter to emerge from any conversation with either of you feeling
positive about her own life and secure about her changed family. 
Don't wait for your daughter to bring
this up again. You can say to her, "Remember when you asked me about
divorce? I didn't really know what to say, but I've thought about it and I want
you to know that Mommy and I loved each other very much and will always love
you."We decided we couldn't be
married anymore. None of this was your fault. The divorce made me sad,
I feel like things worked out OK for us and I don't feel so sad anymore."

(emphasis added by me)


Posted by Barbara Bartlett

What Does It Take?
January 16, 2010 7:36am

 Today I met a lovely lady who had a story to tell about her parent’s divorce.  They divorced when she was 5.  She is now 30.  When did they stop fighting? When did they stop putting her in the middle?  When their grandchild was being born.  Not just the year, but that moment. 

She explains that as she lay in labor, her mother sat to her left, and her father sat to her right.  Her husband was in the middle.  Her parents were taking potshots at each other as always.  That is why her husband had strategically placed himself in the middle. 

She could have just had one of the parents there, but that would mean she would have to choose one over the other.  She could have chose to have neither of them there, but she craved both of their support. 

So there they were, but still bickering.  Until, thru the pain, she finally yelled what she has been waiting to yell since age 5. “STOP IT.  JUST STOP IT.”

Maybe they finally figured out what they had been doing.  And what they were doing at that very moment…they had not been able to set aside their differences at one of the most important times of their daughter’s life. 

Maybe a light bulb went off.  Maybe they needed someone to call a truce for them.  But whatever it was, they figured out how to be co-grandparents.  And quit bickering.  Quit saying things bad about the other.  And had now maintained that peace for their grandchildren’s sake. 


 My goal would be that your child never has to be in the middle so long.

Posted by Barbara Bartlett

Be a Role Model
July 4, 2009 4:04pm

When you are a parent, everything you do is watched by your kids.  Studies show they will do as you do, not as you say.  So, what are you going to do in your divorce?  What will you teach your kids about difficult transitions?  About how to deal with anger?  relationships?

Luckily in collaborative divorce, you will have a coach to keep you balanced.  To keep you working towards that role model you want your kids to have.    

Posted by Barbara Bartlett

New Study Links Problem Behavior in Children to Divorce
May 21, 2009 2:48pm

According to, a new study by Brian D'Onofrio (an assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University) shows that "certain problem behaviors, such as skipping school, getting into fights and stealing, could be traced to divorce." Another study he did also revealed that an unhappy family, whether divorced, divorcing, or considering divorce, can be linked to a child's future alcholism.

Studies like these are just more reasons why you should choose collaborative law for your divorce. Michael Goldberg, a psychology instructor at the Harvard Medical School, says that "One of the best predictors of how children will do after a divorce is the level of parental conflict."

Collaborative divorce is a peaceful, respectful way for a couple to resolve their issues by sitting down with trained professionals and discussing their issues. Collaborative divorce is less stressful, less demeaning, and less harmful to a family's well being because the parents aren't in a courtroom tearing each other down. It is also comparatively cheaper than litigation. According to the advice of the experts mentioned before, collaborative law is your only choice if you want your children to be as happy and healthy as possible during and after your divorce.

Don't fight about it. Make a choice to save your children. Choose collaborative law.

Posted by Barbara Bartlett

Tulsa custody fights
May 21, 2009 2:48pm

In Tulsa, as in all other family courts, a judge is often called upon to decide when a child should spend time with each parent.  What tools are given this judge to make this decision?  Mental health professionals in the Tulsa area provide the service of 'custody evaluations' in divorces.  This involves having the parents do personality tests, and for the family to be interviewed by the professional.  But no science exists that can conclude who is the better parent.  Listen to NPR's All Things Considered of 11/21/07,
Evaluators in Child-Custody Cases Scrutinized.  In the article, they point out that the science is ambiguous.  The tests given are flawed for the purpose of figuring out who is the better parent. 

The best 'decider' for your kids is you, the parents.  Both of you.  If you can put your divorce anger aside, and do what is best for the kids.  No fair fooling yourself that what is best for the kids is not to have contact with the other parent.  Only in extreme cases is that the right thing to do. 

This article said something that really hit home with me.  In the war of divorces, the children are the prisoners of that war. 

Posted by Barbara Bartlett

Aspects of Divorce You Don't Hear About in the News
May 21, 2009 2:47pm

As a high school student, I get to see the things parents don't get to see when their children are going through a divorce. Many children and teenagers hide their emotions of loss and confusion while at school, but many cannot contain them. I have many friends who have divorced parents, and some that are divorcing currently.

During a divorce, parents don't see the complete change in their child's personality when they are outside the home. Many children who were once the bright, uplifting student in their class become bitter people who either get involved with the "wrong crowd" or just don't talk to anyone. They struggle to find someone to identify with their pain. Teens often turn to drugs and alcohol because they feel that there is no hope left for themselves. I have seen all of these situations too many times. Though I live in the Tulsa area, the effects on children in a divorce are the same around the world.

This is why I believe that collaborative law is the best way to settle a divorce. A child watches their parents' every move, and if they see their parents respectfully settling their differences, they will feel so much better about their parents splitting. If they see their parents tearing each other down and emotionally harming each other constantly, then they are likely to act out. Collaborative divorce provides for a respectful, more peaceful divorce. It also costs less money than other divorces, which leaves more money for the children.

Take it from a girl who sees your children when you are not around.

Don't fight about it. Settle your divorce respectfully and keep your children happy.

Posted by Emily Mapes
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