Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 10, 2013

Focus on kids if divorce is imminent

TAHLEQUAH — 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.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks