Be Smart About Divorce and Creating Bi-Nuclear Families
Intelligent Divorce and What’s so Smart About It
Children of divorce experience a slew of side effects from poor grades, to psychological problems to lower employment and higher divorce numbers of their own. For a long time, parents considering divorce beat themselves up, assuming they were condemning their children to a lifetime of unhappiness simply because they couldn’t save their marriage.
But research has shown that it isn’t just the divorce factor that leads to problems for the children involved. It’s the quality of the relationships with their parents that can determine whether a divorce has long-term damaging effects on the children or not.
Intelligence in Divorce
There’s been a lot of talk recently about intelligence. We commonly identify three different types: emotional intelligence, academic intelligence (high IQ) and social intelligence. There are smart cars and smart homes that make your investments safer and more secure.
But what about divorce? What’s smart about divorce?
My guest this week is Dr. Mark Banschick, child psychologist with training from Georgetown University and New York Presbyterian Hospitals, expert witness in custody disputes, author of The Intelligent Divorce: Taking Care of Your Children, and writer for Psychology Today. He has been featured on the CBS Early Show and quoted in The New York Times, CNN and USA Today. He recently launches a comprehensive online course, Intelligent Divorced Parenting to help parents deal more effectively with divorce even when confronted with a difficult former spouse.
Ask Hard Questions
The first step in entering an intelligent divorce is to see if you really need it. You may feel like you’re at your limit. You may be angry and frustrated. Or you may feel beholden to some “boundaries” that you put in place before you ever got married—eg.: “I’d never forgive someone for cheating on me.” Dr. Banschick advises that you “take a hard look at your marriage and see if it could be done better”. You will feel better about yourself whichever path you take, if you feel like you’ve given it your all.
Dr. Banschick draws on an idea from Contance Ahrons, “binuclear families”. This is an extended, expanded concept of family. These “binuclear families” are the product of divorce, but they’re deconstructed and reconstructed in new ways into something that looks completely different. Children may be able to count on support of older generations (grandparents) and step-siblings. There may even be a place for the exes of their step-families. It’s an expansive approach to family that actually grows the net of support for children. It requires creative thinking about what can work for the child and the family, but the payoff will be supported, confident and happy children.
Dr. Banschick advises based not just on research into divorce, but on his real-life experience seeing hundreds of families experience it. This series with Dr. Banschick is more than just a review of an expert’s tips. In many ways, it will be a guide to how you can successfully navigate divorce with children in the kindest and most productive way.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.