Divorce is a stressful time for all-concerned. Depending on the personalities involved, the transition can move along on co-operative lines, via angry skirmishes or by plain suffering and doubt on all sides.
In a so-called ‘co-operative' divorce, both parents work together to restructure their own relationship and their family to allow the children as normal a relationship with each of them as possible. This means co-operating with each other as to finances, logistics and family commitments as well as actively supporting the children's emotional relationships with the other parent and the extended families. In co-operative divorces the parties consciously try not to engage in behaviour they understand to be inflammatory to the other side.
However, an angry divorce doesn't have to be an alienating one. Alienation occurs when both parents use their children to meet their own emotional needs or as innocent pawns to inflict retribution on the other side. The focus in determining whether or not there is alienation in an angry divorce must be, not on the degree of rage or loss expressed, but on the behavioural willingness to involve the children.
There has been a tide of media interest in young people recently - from fathers at thirteen, to earlier and earlier sex-education in schools, to the cervical infections surrounding the tragic Jade Goody.
Sex is once again in the news, if ever it really left.
The sexual conduct of young people has long been vigorously debated, but what of the inevitable mental health issues that are caused by such behaviour?
I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write or text me, make phone calls and ask me lots of questions. When I don't hear from either of you, I feel as if I'm not important and that neither of you really love me.
Please stop arguing and work hard to be friends. When you argue about me, I think that I must have done something wrong and I feel guilty.
I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. I feel as if I need to take sides and love one of you more than the other.
Please communicate directly with each other so that I don't have to send messages back and forth.
When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don't say anything at all. When you say horrible, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side against the other one.
Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I desperately need both of you to bring me up, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.
Most children feel angry, sad and frustrated about the prospect of their parents splitting up for good. How you deal with the situation will have an effect on your child throughout their life.
Ways to help your children
As well as reminders that they will be loved and cared for, reassure them about what they may fear. For example, "I know you are upset about moving, but we will make sure you can stay in the same school".
Posted by: Uticopa in stress, children on
Mar 20, 2009
What is stress?
Stress is a feeling that's created when we react to particular events - called stressors. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a difficult situation. The hypothalamus in the brain signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. Blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, putting our muscles on alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases some of its stored glucose to increase the body's energy, and sweat is produced to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare us to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.
Stress, or ‘the fight or flight response', is critical during emergency situations, but it can also be activated in a milder form at a time when the pressure is on but there's no actual danger - like that school exam or job interview. Of course, a little of this stress can help us rise to life's challenges. Also, the nervous system can quickly return to its normal state, standing by to respond again when needed. But, it's the abnormal levels that cause concern, and it seems that this is often set way back in early childhood.
Posted by: Uticopa in children on
Mar 01, 2009
In the press recently has been an account of how Julie Myerson, an author mother, wrote the true story of her anguish in ordering her drug-taking son permanently from their home. If nothing else, it shows the huge gulf between the mindsets of parents and their offspring. But, who is at fault: the mother for apparently ‘failing to understand' her son's behaviour and for failing to nurture him no matter what, or the son for his supposedly narcissistic attitude to life? The mental anguish on both sides can lead - if not checked - to bouts of severe depression and even suicide.
Narcissism is the term used by psychologists to define often-disparaged youthful mindsets. We all recognise the syndrome and remember it well from our own youth. There is that inflated self-esteem, imagining yourself to be cleverer or more attractive than everyone else, as you chase that elusive future glory for yourself. Whilst in this syndrome, young people don't want to show that they seek warmth, intimacy and commitment in relationships - that would look weak. They go to great lengths to boost their value in the eyes of others by ‘me, me, me' attention-seeking, taking credit where it's not due, courting high-status trophy partners and friends, and constantly chasing public acclamation.
Although complaints about ‘today's youth' have been recorded in history ever since the beginning of time, recent studies have shown that there is a definite rise in narcissism this century. Arguably, the advantages are that narcissists tend to report high self-esteem, happiness and life-satisfaction. They are also often likeable, are good at performing in social situations, tend to win in brief competitive tasks and will put themselves forward as leaders (though they do not tend to make good ones in the long term).
Posted by: Uticopa in IQ, dementia, children on
Feb 04, 2009
As Gordon Brown unveils his new package of proposals offering special dementia ‘memory clinics' where the man in the street can go to check out his own susceptibility to the disease, it is interesting to note how even our childhood can have an effect. So now, as people are asked to ‘count backwards progressively from 100 by 7 each time' - making them recall their mental arithmetic lesson from school - there may be further links hitherto unrealised.
Scientists have now discovered a link between childhood IQ levels and a type of dementia. The discovery could help scientists better understand what causes the form of the disease which affects more than 100,000 people in Britain.
A study by Edinburgh University has found that lower intelligence levels in childhood increase the risk of developing vascular dementia later in life by as much as 40 per cent.
Posted by: Uticopa in children on
Feb 04, 2009
Modern technological advances have brought hitherto undreamed of possibilities for young people today. From Facebook to i-Pods to i-Phones, the world is your oyster today. But are we deluding ourselves? Have we introduced our youngsters to dangers that many of us don't even realise yet alone understand?
In post-war Britain, children had a ready-made structured society where there were definite limits and guidelines to their well-ordered lives. Whether they liked it or not, society was geared so that everyone recognised those who were in positions of authority: those such as policemen and teachers whom you looked up to as sources of respect and information.
But then came the advent of the cyber-age, one-parent families and working mothers, robbing many children of support and parents to look up to, with the result that they now turn to celebrities as role models.
Posted by: Uticopa in children on
Feb 04, 2009
Many years ago, long before the advent of the computer age, the upbringing of our young children during school holidays and weekends followed a similar pattern. Children would be sent out to play and told to return at tea-time.
Those of us who remember such a time recall long, long days of imaginative play with other children who lived in the same street. Rarely did a child have something constructive to play with; rather, children constructed their own games using local amenities such as playgrounds, parks and alleys between houses as simple backdrops. Yes, there probably were dangers out there in those times, but because they weren't constantly trumpeted from every media outlet available, parents used their common-sense and relied on their instincts a lot more. Back then, particularly in the immediate post-war years, children were simply happy to be free of restrictive parental controls, relishing the freedom to run, jump and enact elaborate role-playing games. Playtime was a time to live in that vast, creative, imaginative world where anything was possible. But, unfortunately, that world seems to have disappeared.
It was therefore interesting to see a recent independent report on the state of childhood today. It was commissioned by The Children's Society and carried out by Lord Layard, the Labour peer, and Professor Judy Dunn, a child psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry.