For so many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a beautiful season sprinkled with festive events and family gatherings. For divorced parents sharing their children over the holidays with their other parent however, this can be the beginning of a very complicated time.
“I grew up as a child of divorce, was a single mother for eight years and am now remarried,” says author and marriage and family therapist, Tammy Daughtry. “I know firsthand how difficult and chaotic the holidays can be for children going between two homes, not to mention the emotional turmoil that can come from expectations of creating the ‘perfect Christmas.’”
Joey, now 41, recalls his saddest moments of Christmas: seeing his mom cry when he left to visit his dad.
“Like many children of divorce, Joey hated to see his mom fall apart when he left for the holidays with his dad,” Daughtry says. “Thinking that it was his job to make her happy, he felt sad and like it was his fault. He felt guilty about having fun with his father. At 9, he described feeling like he needed to call his mom every day while he was away to make sure she was alright. As an adult looking back, he wishes someone had been there to tell his mom to pull herself together and not place that kind of pressure on him. Joey said the mental image of his mom sitting at home crying, alone and sad caused enough guilt to last more than my lifetime.”
Daughtry not only has personal experience with this issue, but she also works with stepfamilies to help them navigate situations such as these.
If you are in the midst of the holidays as a divorced parent, Daughtry’s suggestions can help you make this shared Christmas bright for your children.
Confirm that your children feel loved and secure in both homes.
Allow your child to share the joy they feel at their other home. Affirm their joy with a healthy response.
Create a photo collage of your child with their other parent and give it to them as a gift this year. Encourage your child to hang it in their room at your house.
Purchase a large corkboard and encourage your child to put special tokens and mementoes of their other parent and their family on the board – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – as a way to celebrate both sides of the family.
Additionally, Daughtry has some ideas for making your own Christmas celebration brighter, especially if you’ll be celebrating Christmas without the children:
Invite a friend to be there as your children leave or to ride along as you drop them off so you won’t be completely alone initially.
Be kind to yourself by acknowledging the pain you may feel, but plan ahead to care for yourself. You might even create your own extra-fun experience instead of becoming an emotional trainwreck.
Don’t sulk at home alone. Make plans to be with family or friends.
Get together with a single parent who is also celebrating without the children this year.
Volunteer somewhere and give to others in need.
“We often don’t know what we are capable of handling until we have to do it,” says Daughtry. “Be intentional about taking care of yourself which will help you be strong for your children. Give yourself permission to re-frame and redefine your expectations as a parent. You might become surprised how much joy you actually experience this holiday season.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/chris-benson-8uL0fTOBJcQ-unsplash.jpg8351250Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-11-20 06:30:002021-12-21 17:51:16How to Navigate the Holidays as a Divorced Parent
What percentage of childhood sexual abuse victims know their abuser?
Where might you find someone who sexually abuses children?
What percentage of child sexual abuse victims tell someone about the abuse?
What percentage of child sexual abuse reports by children are false?
Unfortunately, most people don’t want to spend time thinking about this topic. But for the sake of children, it requires your attention. About 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before turning 18. And, it might surprise you to learn that about 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.
Perhaps you’ve been led to believe that child sexual abusers look like shady characters. If so, think again. According to Darkness to Light, a website devoted to ending child sexual abuse, those who molest children usually look and (mostly) act just like everyone else.
You can find people who sexually abuse children in families, schools, places of worship, recreation centers, youth sports leagues and any other place children gather.
And it’s important to realize that abusers can be and often are other children, although most youth sex offenders are not sexual predators and will not go on to become adult offenders.
Researchers estimate that 38 percent of child victims tell someone about their sexual abuse. Of these, 40 percent tell a close friend. This means that the vast majority of child sexual abuse victims never report it to authorities. Research suggests, however, that such disclosure rates may be increasing. And that people only falsify 4 to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports.
Who’s most at risk?
Family structure is the most important risk factor in child sexual abuse. Children who live with two married biological parents are at low risk for abuse.
Children living without either parent are 10 times more likely to be sexual abuse victims than children who live with both biological parents.
Those who live with a single parent who has a live-in partner are 20 times more likely to be victimized than children living with both biological parents.
Females are five times more likely to experience abuse than males.
While there’s risk for children of all ages, children are most vulnerable to abuse between the age of 7 and 13.
The risk for sexual abuse is tripled for children whose parent(s) are not in the workforce.
Who are perpetrators looking for?
First, you should know that perpetrators say they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single-parent or broken homes. Abusers frequently seek out children who are particularly trusting, working proactively to establish a relationship with them before abusing them. They might also seek to establish a trusting relationship with the victim’s family as well.
So, what are some ways to protect children from sexual abuse?
1: Learn the facts. Reading this is a great start.
2: Minimize the risk. Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease risk for abuse.
3: Talk about it. Have open conversations with children about our bodies, sex, and boundaries.
4: Recognize the signs. Know the signs of abuse to protect children from further harm.
5: React responsibly. Understand how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions or reports of abuse.
Everyone can take action against child sexual abuse.
Finally, if you want know more about how you can protect children from sexual abuse, visit Darkness to Light. You’ll find more resources, along with a downloadable booklet for families and communities that outlines the steps you can take.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/5WaysToProtectChildrenFromSexualAbuse-e1584130578997.jpg6051400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-10-16 00:00:002020-12-11 16:23:055 Ways You Can Protect Children from Sexual Abuse
Of the 76 million children living in the United States, a staggering 60 percent (46 million) of them will experience the effects of childhood trauma: violence, abuse, crime and psychological trauma before they turn 18. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Believe it or not, home life plays a huge part in these statistics.
Specifically, children from single-parent homes seem to be at higher risk for adverse childhood experiences than those who live with both parents.
The National Survey of Children’s Health asked parents of 95,677 children under 18 if their kids had ever seen or heard “any parents, guardians or any other adults in the home slap, hit, kick, punch or beat each other up.” Nineteen of every 1,000 children living with their two married biological parents experienced that type of behavior. Sadly, the exposure rate was seven times higher (144 children per 1,000) in homes with a divorced or separated mother. These comparisons are adjusted for differences across age, sex, race, family income, poverty status and parent’s education level.
In an Institute for Family Studies article, Nicholas Zill, a psychologist and child and family well-being researcher with more than 40 years of experience, writes:
“Experiencing family violence is stressful for children, undercuts their respect and admiration for parents who engage in abusive behavior, and is associated with increased rates of emotional and behavioral problems at home and in school. For children of never-married mothers who witnessed family violence, 58 percent had conduct or academic problems. Among children of divorced or separated mothers, nearly half of those exposed to family violence, 48 percent, had had conduct or academic problems at school.”
So, how do adverse childhood experiences affect children long-term? Do they set the stage for greater difficulty later in life? Are children resilient?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied more than 17,000 adults to find out. It examined the links between traumatic childhood experiences (abuse, neglect and family dysfunction including divorce, incarceration, substance abuse and mental health issues) and current adult health and well-being.
According to that study, exposure to adverse childhood experiences hinders the ability to form stable and healthy adult relationships. Plus, those experiences increase the risk for:
Experiencing substance abuse;
In contrast, healthy relationships at home, school and in the community can nurture a child’s physical and emotional growth. Children need these types of relationships from birth forward in order to thrive and grow into productive adults.
What can you do?
Create a safe and stable home for your kids.
Actively engage in your child’s life.
Learn skills to help you manage and resolve conflict.
Take parenting classes for various ages and stages.
Make sure your neighborhood is a safe place.
Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are among the most powerful and protective forces in a child’s life. So in order to promote healthy child development, we must be diligent in creating those safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. As a community, we all share responsibility for the well-being of our children.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***