Approximately one million children experience their parent's divorce every year in the U.S. Additionally, some estimates indicate that 40 percent of children born today will have divorced parents by the time they are 16 years old. While most children eventually overcome the impact of divorce, 25 percent go on to have major long-term mental health and behavioral problems.

Even among those who adjust well, many experience sadness, anger and emotional pain that is associated with risky behaviors such as delinquency, depression, suicide, school dropout, substance use and early sexual activity. In addition, the effects of divorce can last into adulthood. Adult children of divorce have been shown to have increased difficulty in establishing intimate and lasting relationships and are at greater risk of divorce themselves when they do.

So, what can you do to help your children deal with divorce or separation? The Co-parenting for Resilience program was designed to help divorcing parents encourage resilience in their children. The curriculum was developed by specialists at Oklahoma State University and the class is taught by OSU Extension Educators statewide. It is centered on the latest research on divorce, remarriage, parenting, and child development and follows system theory regarding how to motivate behavior change through and educational program.

The program focuses on expanding alternatives to divorcing parents who become "stuck" in patterns of behavior that do not promote healthy adjustments to the challenges their children are experiencing. Basically, the objective of this program is to take the focus off the divorce and place it directly on parenting that produces resilient children.

The class is a combination of lecture, hands-on activity and discussion. Parents are provided a workbook with information to take home. The fee to attend the class is $30 and the next class is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Cherokee County Community Building. Participants must pre-register one week prior to class.

Parents who have already taken this class have said the class provided them basic information they needed to help get started. Program evaluation indicates that most parents who attend the class begin to work together better and have increased their use of positive parenting strategies.

Obviously, there could be a variety of reasons why any parent may want to attend this class. The class was developed on principles that can be applied to almost every situation including: first marriages, stepfamilies, abandonment, incarceration, addiction, and even for extended family members who may want to attend.

For more information on food safety or to schedule a program locally about financial management, nutrition, health & wellness, parenting education, OHCE contact Heather Winn, at the OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County by phone at 918-456-6163 or e-mail at heather.winn@okstate.edu.

Heather Winn is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.

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