It’s been said that spending time with children is more important than spending money on children.
The active presence of a parent in a child’s life is vital in ensuring that child’s well-being, and when parents divorce, the child often blames himself for the marriage’s dissolution. That’s why it’s important to put children first when mom and dad decide to go separate directions, said Oklahoma State Department of Health Child Development Specialist Diane Weston.
“Every parent should keep in mind that a child’s greatest fear is the loss of a parent. So a child’s first concern will likely be if they will ‘lose’ one of their parents,” she said. “The child should be reassured that both parents love them, and that they will be safe. Parents should reassure the child that nothing they did caused the divorce.”
Because people living in Oklahoma are more likely to marry, the chance of divorce increases, according to online reports on the topic. A Census Bureau study released in 2011 placed the Sooner state at the top of the list for divorce, ahead of states like Arkansas, Alaska, Alabama, Kentucky, Nevada and Arizona, to name a few. The study showed divorce in Oklahoma is closely associated with families living in poverty.
Staying together “for the kids’ sake” is never a good idea, said Weston.
“Children don’t learn appropriate coping skills and communication skills when growing up in a dysfunctional home. To a certain extent, arguing in front of the children can be good if they see problems can be resolved in an effective and respectful manner,” Weston said. “However, if there is violence in the home or constant fighting with no resolutions, divorce may be one solution.”
Weston said couples can have a healthy divorce if the focus is on the children and not on “winning.”
“If a parent’s goal is to win, the children become objects, and therefore are often used as a manipulative tool in the divorce,” she said. “A healthy divorce should allow the children to have access to both parents. Parents should understand that no matter how much they may dislike their exes, their children should always be allowed to see their other parent.”
Weston noted children “will grow to resent the parent with whom they live,” if they are not allowed to spend time with the parent not living in the custodial home.
“If there are safety issues during visitation, the custodial parent should make arrangements for the visit to be supervised,” she said.
Cherokee County Special District Judge Sandy Crosslin doesn’t have an opinion on how parents should inform their children about their decision to divorce, but she does hold certain beliefs on what they should and should not do.
“The No. 1 priority to keep in mind is what’s in the best interest of the child when there are children involved in a divorce,” she said. “[Parents should] think about their actions, and how they will affect their children, rather than just how it affects the parent. Keep the child out of the middle. Don’t use the child as a middle person or as a sounding board on adult issues. That’s what I see what would make a huge difference on the children, if the parents would just try to keep adult things adult. They’re not divorcing their children. They’re divorcing each other. If they would look at what is in the best interest of the kids, I think everybody would be better off.”
Knowing how to make decisions in life-changing situations shouldn’t be taken lightly, said Cherokee County Court Appointed Special Advocate Executive Director Jo Prout.
“Parenting and marriage are the two of the hardest things in the world, in my opinion, for any individual to accomplish with grace and confidence,” she said.
Prout and CASA recruiter, trainer and part-time advocate coordinator Sandy Macauley regularly help families experiencing life-changing and sometimes traumatic situations, and they urge parents to always be mindful of their children.
“I’ve been here almost 4-1/2 years, and I’ve learned one of the most traumatic things for a child is separation from a parent, whether it be through an abuse case, divorce or through a death,” said Macauley. “I think parents need to be realistic. They also need to prepare the child [for the divorce], and probably get the child into some counseling during this whole time. They think they did something wrong. A parent can reassure them, ‘It wasn’t you. It was us,’ but that doesn’t necessarily take the belief away from the child.”
Even when the divorce may be viewed as a the right move, mental pressure is still experienced, said Macauley.
“It could be the divorce is a good thing, especially if you’re always fighting with each other and there’s always tension. The children may feel some relief, but they’re also still going to feel some stress,” she said. “I think really have an appropriate, open communication with your children. Be consistent. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t put the kids in the middle. It’s not your kid’s place to tell you what’s going on with your ex-spouse. We’ve seen cases like that and ... you can’t do that to that child.”
For families unable to afford counseling, Weston and Macauley recommend seeking guidance from a school-based social worker or counselor, or even a church minister.
“The Zoë Institute also has some resources available, and the First Baptist Church in Tahlequah offers divorce care for children and adults,” said Weston. “The First Baptist Church also has a licensed professional counselor on staff who has extensive experience in helping families with divorce. In most cases, Sooner Care Insurance will also pay for counseling services with a licensed counselor. There are several private agencies in Tahlequah that offer counseling services for young children.”
It’s been said that spending time with children is more important than spending money on children.
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NSU students observe Earth Day
Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).
Rural smallholders host annual show
More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.
Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop
Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.
Communiversity Band performs Sunday
Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
“Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
“We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”
Council concerned over reports of land contamination
Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.
Council tables cell tower permit apps
Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.
Walk a Mile 2014
Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
“It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”
Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl
A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.
Police take down pair on pot distribution charge
Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.
Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips
Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.
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