Helping Parents Help Children Through Divorce
Children First Program
The Children First program provides divorcing parents the opportunity to learn about and discuss the effect that divorce and changing family situation had on children. With the assistance of a video tape presentation and discussion, parents are introduced to methods of minimizing the negative consequence of divorce on their children. Particular focus is on making parents aware of the various ways their children may express their reactions to the changing family structure.
Children First Classes are Required by the Courts There are two very important reasons: 1) At the time parents approach a legal divorce, most are emotionally upset and primarily involved in the changes in their lives. Even though they care greatly for their children, most parents find it very difficult at this time to recognize and to respond to the needs of their children. Therefore, classes are most helpful for parents and children at the beginning of the divorce experience. Also, we know that divorcing parents who do NOT cooperatively try to meet the needs of their children, are often parents who return to court time and time again in an attempt to resolve their differences. When parental conflict continues, it usually leads to "battles" over the custody and visitation of the children. These battles are not only costly, but usually result in ongoing conflicts and difficulties for the children. 2) The Judges and the Children First staff have found that if children experience negative consequences as a result of their parent's divorce, these same children have an extremely high probability of having difficulties later in their adolescent and/or adult years. The Court hopes to minimize these negative consequences by requiring parents to attend the Children First classes.
Both Parents Must Attend Since it is necessary for divorcing parents to be aware of how to avoid destructive/negative behaviors toward their children during the divorce process, and since we know that active parenting of the children by both parents must continue even though the marital relationship is ending, the court requires both adults to attend. Note: Divorcing parents will be scheduled for different sessions unless they specifically request the same class.
Cost For Children's First Classes Each parent will be assessed a fee based on that parent's annual taxable income and number of children. The fee will cover the cost of both sessions.
Children First Hopes to Help Parents Experience has shown that divorce often includes a variety of conflicts between spouses that can continue well beyond the legal divorce. When parental conflict is present, children are adversely affected and may suffer for long periods of time. We know that when parents work to develop cooperative plans in the best interest of their children that children can continue to grow and develop in positive ways. The Children First program believes that given information and guidance, parents will move beyond their differences to consider the best interest of their children. The program believes in assisting parents to anticipate future events and/or problem creating situations in the life of their family both during and after the divorce. Children's birthdays, holidays, vacations, with whom children will spend these days and how the parents must share responsibilities for their children are all issues which must be anticipated and planned for. "Children First" recognizes the importance of your parent-child relationship and will promote and encourage your continued parenting of your children even though your marital relationship is ending. Please contact the Children First program for more information and/or an appointment.
Some Instructions for Children First Classes Please do NOT bring children! There are no facilities at the classroom site for children. The subject material in the video and class discussion does not provide for a suitable environment for children regardless of how well behaved they may be. We have found that they do disrupt class and that the parents become distracted and less attentive to the course the material. If you cannot find someone to watch you child(ren), please reschedule your class date. Parents who bring children to class will not be allowed to participate. Do Not bring unregistered adults to class. Every parent attending scheduled classes must be pre-registered! The class moderator has been instructed to turn away any person who is not a confirmed participant and on the class list. Parents wishing to attend together, must request to be scheduled for the same class. Please understand that this restriction is for the protection of the class participants. It is for that reason that unregistered adults will not be allowed to be present in the class area. Do Remember that your children did not ask for this divorce and that they need all the help they can get to understand what has happened to their parents. Do Remember that these are not "small adults" endowed with the wisdom of maturity. These are children and they do not understand why their world is being turned inside out. Do Remember that they may not share the anger you have for the other parent. Do Remember that patience, love and understanding will almost always be the best way to help your children survive this life experience.