The Intelligent Divorce: An Introduction
Saying Hello to the Psychology Today World
Posted Sep 02, 2011
The Intelligent Divorce:
When you see the word "divorce", what comes to mind? Do you think of a broken home and an unhappy family? Do you think of parents who fight too much and talk too little? Do you see the words "adultery", "abuse" and "dishonesty" in your mind's eye?
Perhaps you think of liberation: one adult is no longer bound to another. One adult, who has spent years in an unhappy, unfulfilling, or for some reason un-"right" relationship, is finally free to lead a new life. In this light, a divorce can be a consensus, an opening of possibilities, a rebirth.
Now that you are thinking about divorce, I want to introduce an idea. We are lucky enough to live in an age and in a part of the world that celebrates personal freedom. Individuals are encouraged to explore their very individuality, and for that reason, divorce is here to stay. As long as people value their own happiness and safety, and recognize that these goals are achievable, spouses will continue to get divorced. With that assumption in mind, I want you to think of divorce as another stage in an ever-evolving familial relationship.
Children Benefit When a Marriage Ends Well:
The end of a marriage does not mean the end of a family. You do not abdicate responsibility for your children when you nullify your marriage: rather, your duty to your kids becomes all the more important. Divorced parents remain parents to their children. Spouses can get divorced, but, for the sake of the children, families cannot.
For the past 20 years, I have been an expert witness in custody disputes. I am a trained child psychiatrist, a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. In 1998 I developed the Intelligent Divorce Project: a multi-faceted approach to discussing and dealing with divorce. This program is not designed to point fingers or assign blame, but rather to help parents negotiate this complicated and sometimes unbearable subject with grace, compassion and intelligence.
The core of the Intelligent Divorce Project is a three book series. The first looks at taking care of your children; the second at taking care of yourself (so your kids don't have to); and the third (available in 2012) at the difficult problem of an impossible ex. Each of these books emerges from the idea that children are the most important part of any family, and are the most vulnerable during any divorce. Their innocence is something that we as parents and adults have to respect and protect.
Good Boundaries Make Good Ex Partners:
Any parent going through a divorce must maintain the Intergenerational Boundary (an idea that I will return to time and again in upcoming posts) that separates adults and children. Your child's bill of rights is a perfect jumping off point for how to respect this boundary, and for how to begin an intelligent divorce.
I am so excited to join this particular family, Psychology Today. Thanks to venues like this, the Intelligent Divorce Project can continue to become a comprehensive, multi-media program for counseling and support. In addition to the three book series, I have created an on-line Family Stabilization Course designed to help divorced parents test themselves on whether they are doing right be their children.
Through Twitter, Facebook, and media outlets ranging from the Huffington Post to Politico to CBS News, I hope to begin a worldwide discussion of what it means to conduct an intelligent divorce for both yourself and your children.
For more from Dr. Banschick:
The Intelligent Divorce - Taking Care of Your Children
The Intelligent Divorce - Taking Care of Yourself
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