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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A stitch in time
They may be seasoned sewing veterans, but local members of the Oklahoma Home and Community Education clubs learned a new stitching craft Monday morning.
Beth Corn led the class, and the objective was to create decorative items from strips of fabric and cotton clothesline cord. Corn and fellow OHCE member Ann Lamons had several completed items on display, including coasters, trivets, throw rugs and even baskets with lids.
“I learned how to do this just watching TV, but I found some instructions in a book and printed them out for everybody,” said Corn. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes while learning, but that’s part of the fun. Once you learn how to do this today, you’ll be able to branch out and use the technique for all kinds of things.”
The class was well-attended, with so many mem bers some attendees ended up having to share sewing machines.
Sheppard takes place of Tinnin on TPS board
Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education reorganized, swore in a new member, and passed a further adjustment to the 2013-14 school calendar.
TPS has missed 13 days during the school year due to inclement weather, and classes will not be held on March 31 for a professional development day approved by the school board in the consent docket.
The district has invited teachers, parents and community leaders to attend the Oklahoma Education Coalition rally at the state capitol to demonstrate support for increased education funding.
Cherokee Nation touts minimum wage hike, credit rating upgrade
Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. made an appearance at Monday night’s tribal council meeting, as both Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden were out of town.
“As you know, it’s a very busy and crucial time at the state capitol this week,” said Hoskin. “As such, Chief Baker is in Oklahoma City tending to issues that relate to the tribe. Joe Crittenden in Washington, D.C., this week, attending the National Congress of the American Indian.”
Hoskin touted the recent executive order raising the tribe’s minimum wage, as well as news that the Cherokee Nation’s credit rating has been upgraded to triple B.
Greenwood Elementary’s fourth-grade robotics team headed to world competition with innovative project
When five Greenwood Elementary School fourth-graders volunteered to be part of a newly-forming robotics team this past October, they never dreamed that six months later, they’d be competing in a world championship tournament in Anaheim, Calif.
Bryson Page, Lyndsie Kinney, Rylee Jafrie, Ryan Mattox and Ashton Kinsey, along with two robotics teams from Tahlequah Middle School, fared well enough at VEX robotics team regional and state competitions to earn slots among 72 other teams competing for world recognition.
“Back in October, we received a donation for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum from the Cherokee Nation,” said Nikki Molloy, Greenwood parent liaison and robotics team coach. “The donation was a robotic kit, and each elementary site, along with TMS, received kits. The first time we gave the kids the kits, we just let them have at it.”
Seizure issues growing more controversial
Aside from the texts and the rights they enumerate, there are some stark contrasts between the Third and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Virtually no one disagrees about the Third Amendment. There are only rare instances of its being litigated, and it has never been the legal basis for a decision of the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, litigation and dissension over the Fourth Amendment is routine.
Education and consolidation topics at forum
State legislators enter the final week of bill hearings and committee meetings next week, and education and agency consolidation remain key concerns for local residents.
Friday morning, five area legislators made presentations and fielded questions from constituents during Legislative Focus at Go Ye Village. Lawmakers included Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee; Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove; Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Westville; Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove; and Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah.
Plea deal arranged for ex-fire chief
A former Cherokee County volunteer fire chief has agreed to plead guilty to forgery and embezzlement charges in exchange for a suspended sentence and payment of restitution.
Third Thursday Art Walk
Shoppers will have a chance to visit downtown merchants in the evening during the Tahlequah Main Street Association’s first Third Thursday Art Walk and After Party on Thursday, March 20.
Participating downtown businesses will keep their doors open to offer specials until 8 p.m., and artists will display their work at different locations. Art exhibitors, including the Cherokee Art Center’s Spider Gallery, will stay open late.
Sex offender bill reaches House
By a unanimous 44-0 vote of the Oklahoma Senate, a bill that would make it more difficult for registered sex offenders to change their names has reached the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1421, authored by Kyle Loveless, Oklahoma City Republican, underwent its first reading in the House on Feb. 27.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said he did not know of any instances, during his service with the department, of registered sex offenders evading detection with new names for any length of time.
SB 1497 may aid transparency
Government transparency advocates were pleased, and some were surprised, when a proposed bill designed to strengthen Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act passed the Senate Judicial Committee recently.
Senate Bill 1497, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, would allow citizens who are denied access to public meetings to bring civil lawsuits, and if the court rules in favor, to collect attorney’s fees. A continuing resolution has already been filed.
Should the legislation pass into law, it would become effective Nov. 1 this year.
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