Should “Divorce School” be mandatory for families that are separating?

A few weeks ago, Jose and I had our 3-year anniversary. We were able to go to Zacatecas, Mexico to celebrate and spend some much needed time away from our regular lives. This immigration thing has just taken a major toll on us. I never would have through that the process would be this long and frustrating. So, when the chance to get away came, we jumped on it to hit the refresh button. It’s amazing how much strength can come from a simple change of scenery. I’m a part of a support group on Facebook for families going through the waiver part of the immigration process. It has given us so much great information and has helped me realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, however today I wanted to talk about something that I have seen happen much too often in the group. At first there were minor comments that people would just make and fling away. They were so light, that I never noticed them. That is until about a week after we returned from Zacatecas. Maybe this hit me harder because I was still in the bliss stage from our beautiful weekend. A woman in the group stated that her marriage was over because of immigration. She stated that it had ruined her marriage and had torn her and her husband apart. The hardship had just become too hard to bare. She then went on to say that her husband had been approved, gotten his interview, and WAS AT HIS INTERVIEW. He was at the gate. He was almost home. So close, yet so ready to give up. He was coming home. Those interviews after you get approved are just basically to give you your Visa. The hard part is over, yet she had just let everyone know that she was filing for divorce because it was just too much. I was dumbfounded. How could a marriage end when he was literally days away from being free and able to cross the border to go home to his family. Now, obviously there is more to the story on their part, but that’s not the point. I understand there must have been other issues they were dealing with to have made just a big decision during such a hopeful time. But because it hit me so hard, I decided to look to see how many other families this had happened to. So, I did a search in the group for key words, and found several other families that had been pulled apart and divorced during the immigration process. As I was looking at these posts, I noticed that each of these families had children involved. So not only were they far away from their parent, but then there was a divorce that was the end for their little family. That’s when I knew that something had to be done.

I know that divorce is very common these days and anyone who is reading this blog post may be part of a divorced family. I do not wish to offend. The part that I really wanted to talk about was how it effects children. I recently learned about something that can really help kids as they are going through the transition. No matter the couple’s situation, divorce is hard and painful. And they are adults that are able to handle hard things and have the maturity to cope. Children on the other hand are often left confused and disoriented. I have seen how members of my own family have been open and honest with their children about certain things regarding the divorce with the children. I think this is so important. Children need to be able to talk about what they are going through. While studying in my marriage class, I was introduced to a video about a program called “Divorce School”. This idea touched my heart. My heart broke as I heard the children talk about their experiences, but I was quickly able to see the benefits. The kids learned big court words, they did therapeutic activities that helped them express and come to terms with what their new family dynamic would be like. In the long run, the kids came out with more positive outcomes than those who hadn’t had the chance to go through. I think that that type of school should be court-ordered for each family going through divorce with children. Divorce is a major life change. It is hard for adults, imagine how hard it is for children who are not developed completely. Their perspective and understanding is at a different level than that of adults. While divorce is hard for adults, it can be traumatic for children. Divorce school is a very good option for these children to go through a workshop where they learn to talk freely about what they are going through. At first, they may not want to go. There will be tears, but in the long run, the benefits outweigh the negatives. If a couple is going through divorce because of abuse, alcoholism, or adultery, Divorce school could be a way to produce more “Transitional Characters”. A Transitional Character is someone who breaks the mold. Often times abuse, alcoholism, and other negative characteristics are passed down through generations. If a child who has been exposed to those things goes through Divorce School, they will be more aware of the effects and outcomes. There could also be follow up classes or workshops that help children in those types of homes deal with their own emotions that come up. These follow up workshops would teach healthy coping mechanisms so that they truly can break the mold. Some types of coping skills that children would learn are meditation, communication, journaling, Dialectical therapy or emotional regulation, sports, music, creativity. There are so many different outlets that can be used to channel emotion rather than going to alcohol, drugs, sex, or abuse. The more we focus on the children in divorced homes, perhaps we can break the cycle of unneeded divorce in the future.

(This post is for FAML 300: 05. While I am writing this post for this class, I am in no way speaking for BYU-Idaho as an institution.)

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