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Marital and Family Law Perspectives

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Parenting In Tough Times

Not one of my clients has ever felt that going through a divorce with children is easy. Professionals concur that the end of a marriage is traumatic enough for adults so that some of the emotional stress spreads to the children. Gary Neuman, a licensed psychotherapist and rabbi, is the creator of the Sandcastles Program that helps lesson the trauma of divorce for children, and supports parents during those tough times as well.

In an interview for Parenting with Spirit Magazine, Neuman shared his observation about parents involved in family court disputes: “The cruel irony of divorce is that when a child needs their parents the most, the parents are most likely to be emotionally unavailable.” He says a five-year-old child cannot “just grab the car keys and go exercise at the gym” to blow off stressful feelings about the break up of their family.

As a result, Neuman designed his Sandcastles Program to provide children with problem-solving skills, including appropriate means of expressing anger. The program includes identification of each child’s unique qualities and strengths, to equip them to overcome obstacles they face during the divorce and beyond. The parents’ portion of the program helps fathers and mothers co-parent, even when they think they can’t, and gives practical advice on how to stop fighting with an ex-spouse. In many jurisdictions, including Miami-Dade County, this program has become mandatory for parents getting divorced.

Neuman has also been a frequent guest on Oprah, Good Morning America, and The View. One tip from Neuman on parenting in tough times: “Playing with your child is one of the most important things a parent can do…because that’s their therapeutic place.” He explains that cooking with your kids, chopping vegetables, mixing ingredients, and playing simple games like checkers and cards gives kids a calm, safe feeling, with the opportunity to ask questions and talk while mom and dad are just “hanging out” with them.

For more parenting tips, check out Neuman’s web site where you can also find more details about the Sandcastles Program, his “Marriage Turnaround Day” and many other resources for parenting in tough times.

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