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The kids are alright

The holiday season often prompts us to look back at the year and try to figure out how it all went. For newly-divorced fathers, and even some who have been out of their marriage for years, wondering how the children are doing with their new lives might be a source of anxiety. Divorce is rarely easy and many fathers worry that the "I'm fine, dad" response to questions about home life and school life aren't telling the whole story. Some reassuring words from life-after-divorce columnist Erin Mantz sheds new light on why sharing custody of the children may not be so bad.

Mantz says many people still harbor out-of-date ideas about what it means to be a "child of divorce." The title alone is scary, not to mention all that talk of "broken homes." The stereotype is that kids from divorced families are bullies, have social problems, can't cut it at school, suffer poor health and are generally setting themselves up for their own divorce at some point down the road. What's more, Mantz says, people are just dying for divorced parents to make mistakes. That doesn't have to happen.

So here is her advice on how to show the world that the kids are alright. Home life is different now so start making new traditions, and make sure love and laughter are in the mix always. Kids will learn to be more organized when they have to move their things from one house to another for visitation. Two homes mean two schedules and two routines, but children are more flexible than adults and they will make the adjustment. Speaking of adjustments, Mantz suggests embracing the social media world and using Skype and Facetime if a child needs an unscheduled "mommy fix" or "daddy time." Among the thousands of apps for smartphones are schedulers to keep track of which weekends are mom's and which are dad's. The children will still play games to get one parent to overrule the other, but effective co-parenting will cut down on the number of "But dad said I could" episodes. Mantz says, "These divorced kids - most of them - are alright."

There's not a lot of law or courtroom strategies in this particular post. Instead, there's encouragement and some permission to relax a little, at least for a few days. All the troubles in the world will still be there a week from now. Focus on how well the children are doing in spite of all they've been through, and take some credit for that success.

Source: Huffington Post, "Do divorced parents have something to prove?" Erin Mantz, Nov. 15, 2012

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