The effects of divorce on children

Child Psychiatrist, Joshua Sparrow, MD, explains the common effects of divorce on children as well as how to facilitate the healing process in order to help the child through the process
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The effects of divorce on children

The main point I’d like to make about divorce is that there is hope. First of all, we used to think that if there were a divorce, that it necessarily would have bad long-term effects on children. And what we’ve learned more recently is that although that can happen, it’s not necessarily the case. And the second kind of hope I’d like to offer to parents who are going through a divorce is that it is possible to get to the other side to be able to partner with the divorce parent with regard to the children that they share. But that’s a huge expectation and it’s really important for everybody to give separating, or divorcing parents a chance to heal before. And it’s tough, because children will suffer while the parents’ healing is taking place, but I just don’t know of a way around it, except to recognize that it’s got to happen. The most obvious thing that everybody sees in a divorce is the anger. But the other things that parents almost always feel are terrible sadness at this loss of the family and this loss of the dream for a future, and also, terrible fear and anxiety. Suddenly, my life is going to be completely different than what I thought it would be. And I think, if we can make room for parents to have all of those feelings, we may be able to support the healing process, so that they can get to being able to turn back again to their child’s interests.

Child Psychiatrist, Joshua Sparrow, MD, explains the common effects of divorce on children as well as how to facilitate the healing process in order to help the child through the process


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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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