The world is changing.... fast! The societal context for children with divorcing parents bears little resemblance to that of the parents divorcing...
When parents decide to separate / divorce, their perspective is that of a relationship not working. Children have to be prepared for this event - but the parents decide the event. Of course, as parents, we consider the impact this will have on our children. The forum boards at Wikivorce.com are filled with posts from concerned partners, looking for advice on the best way to manage this difficult time for their children. However, and most significantly, the boards are equally filled with issues relating to this difficult time, such as contact issues / maintenance issues / housing issues... the list goes on. It is for us, the adults, to care for the children. But how to do that effectively in such a changing world? How to do that efficiently when we're not in control of these events? We meet, we marry, we have children together, we plan for the future. Then it breaks... what does the future now have in store? How do we continue to plan for the future of our children when we cannot agree the best way forward with our ex-partner, with whom we had the children? What happens to all those plans?
Only this week I heard, for the first time, about divorce coaching for children... what a concept! So what do the children see? What is their world like today? So many questions... Schools in Britain have long since had pastoral systems in place to manage such issues; to work with families in supporting their children through life's trials. This is also changing. Britain's social infrastructure is quickly changing to reflect the needs of modern society. Some changes are visible, some more subtle. Some we will rail against and some we welcome. For children, there is the pressure there has always been to learn how to take responsibility for themselves as they become young adults. For the last decade there has been an enormous shift as we moved up a gear in preparing our young for life in the 21st century. The short video below gives us a taste of what that life looks like in its current stage of evolvement: it's scary; it's exciting; it's real...
But how can the children focus on their own personal development in this context, if they have an unstable starting point at home? The 2 single, most significant, factors that affect a child's development from an educational perspective, are attendance and aspiration. Schools themselves are under enormous pressure to raise these levels in children. How to do this? It is a shared responsibility in any society for the growth of its young population. To return to the original point... What impact will divorce have now? Everything we do teaches our children something through modelled behaviour. They watch us more than, often, we think. They learn from us how to interact with others; how to communicate; how to manage challenging situations; how to negotiate; how to take responsibility; how to manage failing relationships. So, if they are learning from us, what is it that we are teaching them? Why is the attendance statistic so impactive in a school?
Well, there are 2 aspects to good attendance: one is obviously that children need to be there to receive the lesson; the other is that it teaches them about commitment. They have a responsibility to be there, it's a healthy routine to prepare them for a work ethic in future employment. The more difficult challenge remains the one of aspiration. To observe parents being unable to manage the conflict of a divorce is more damaging than it looks on the surface; it is to miss an opportunity to learn how it is done effectively; to prepare to manage their own conflicts in life; that there is a way that works. This is important information for every child to carry forward into their own future - a sense of believing in themselves, of having faith in their own ability to manage whatever life throws at them. To aspire to greater things... For children to thrive in the world, the following film allows us a glimpse into, they need to be secure in their ability to grow and have the aspiration to be the best they can be. Who can they learn this from?
Video: The World is Changing: Fast.
(originally released by UK Gov, 2010; updated 2012)