As most adults (and many of their children) know, dissolutions of marriage can inflict heavy, sometimes immobilizing, emotional pressure on the members of a family. Often one, some, or even all, of the family members will experience emotions ranging from rage to depression.
I do not have nor claim any academic or professional training in psychology, but I do have significant professional and personal experience in the area of marital dissolution and the impact on the family. Here are three common sense, intuitive, self-improvement measures that can be undertaken by the family, from the parents down to the younger children, for a positive influence in their daily lives.
First, increase exercise and fun activities. Adults can enjoy the improved self-image and release of endorphins derived from a good work-out at a local gym or health club. Most of these establishments are available to the public at anywhere from $20-$40 per month, with some offering family packages reducing the cost of adding your older teenagers. Younger children in most parts of the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Conejo, and Simi Valleys, and other localities, have YMCA and Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation sports, dance, crafts, and other entertaining programs available for very low or no cost.
Luckily, along with community-based activities and programs, many school districts have many after-school and weekend, athletic, dance, theater, cinema, art, debate, and science clubs, which our older children and teenagers can join. These programs not only give them involving, fun, educational, and constructive outlets for their mental and physical energies, but they also bring together old and new friends who often share many of the same family problems and challenges. This provides our children with an avenue of emotional self-expression and sharing that can be cathartic and, in many cases, relieve the loneliness and sense of isolation for teenagers.
Spiritual exploration and enrichment can also provide much understanding and comfort to the confused and frustrated members of a divorcing family. Everything from religious sectarian to “New Age” metaphysical books, seminars, retreats, churches, and other groups, exist that offer open access to adult and older teenage members of the family in conflict.
While dissolution of marriage and paternity-based litigation are a common part of modern society, family-based disbanding and disputes, in one form or another, they have been part of human society from the beginning. The wisdom and experience of thousands and thousands of years can be tapped into to guide our maturation beyond our present challenges.
Finally, with the frequency of family dissolutions in our modern society, the medical and psychological community has developed, educated, and trained an army of caring and experienced family counselors and therapists. These sensitive and deeply-committed professionals can assist in moderating, if not alleviate completely, many of the tensions and stresses separating the members of a legally divided family.
As with the other channels of self-improvement and discovery discussed above, the psychology community has a wide spectrum of individual, group, and institutional resources available to the public with an affordable cost range from very low income providers to those catering to the very high end clientele. As complicated as modern life has become, a family should never deprive itself of the wealth of knowledge and help available from these dedicated counselors and therapists.