Challenging the Conventional Wisdom Around Divorce
Statistic: Nearly 50% of marriages in America end in divorce.
While the number of marriages that end in divorce is sobering, there are all kinds of associated statistics related to children and divorce. Children from divorced families are 2x more likely to drop out of high school. Children from divorced families are more likely to have behavioral and psychological problems and have lower academic achievement. 25% of adolescents in divorced families become disengaged in their families.
Recognizing the impact that divorce has on children, many US states require parenting classes as part of the process of being granted a divorce. Like most things that are mandated, people’s participation in these courses is perfunctory and related to as just another thing to be done to get thorough the process. The children these courses are intended to make a difference never get the benefit they deserve.
About twenty years ago, two former Landmark staffers, Juli Hall and Mark Kamin, divorced.
“It was incredibly upsetting, especially for our youngest daughter, that we were getting divorced,” said Mark Kamin, “and when I put myself in the world of a seven year old whose family is disintegrating, it became clear to me that very little could have been more upsetting than our little girl’s parents relationship, and home, collapsing”.
Juli added, “I don’t think most parents are selfish when it comes to putting themselves in the shoes of their children. However, we are often so consumed and absorbed with the emotions that come along with divorce, and we simply don’t know how to reduce the impact on ourselves and others. And, of course, the real impact on our children is not always apparent.”
Although the courts required a parenting course for all couples with children going through a divorce, it was clear to us at the time that there were few that really dealt with transforming the anguish that divorce inflicts on the entire family.
Both long time Communication Course leaders, Mark and Juli started working intensively over several years with Werner Erhard (the creator of the ideas that Landmark’s programs are based on) to come up with a Transformational Course for parents to that allows people to divorce in a way that actually works for their children.
Co-Parenting Into The Future
The course developed over 17 years. During those years, Mark and Juli’s daughters matured into successful, self sufficient, compassionate and competent young women. They were deeply loved by both parents and they were raised by both parents who cooperated and co-parented with their best interests as the focal point. A sharp contrast to the more common “broken home.”
The development of the Course involved legal input and numerous pilot Courses. The program has been well received with scores of contentious custody cases resolving with couples able to communicate and take responsibility for their own part in the divorce. More importantly being able to ensure their children thrived in the aftermath.
Mark explained that the course, Co-Parenting Into the Future, both addresses the fundamentals of effective communication between the adults and is designed to enable participants to see the decisions they made in the relationship and their own responsibility in the breakdown of the communication. Juli explains, “People learn a breakdown need not always be a life-altering moment. There are breakdowns in communication every day, over things both great and small. Learning how to communicate effectively in the small matters, and to make corrections if necessary, insures that the small matters do not become big ones.” While originally intended for divorcing parents, it is now often recommended for any parent.
To learn more about the course, people can watch a 36 minute video: password: parent4ever