Single Parent, Divorced and Blended Families Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Single Parent, Divorced and Blended Families Deck (31):


Important to assess custodial rights of parent when they inquire about services.


Advantages of Growing Up in "non-traditional" family.

-Adaptability and flexibility
-More opportunities for finding a charismatic adult.
-Kids have more responsibilities in single parents households which can help them to develop important life skills.


Who Gets Divorced?

-couples who marry under 20.
-people who are less educated or have less income.
-people in the west have higher divorce rates than people in the east.
-divorce rate among AAs is twice that of whites and latinos.
-Asian Americans have the lowest divorce rates.
-Catholics and Jews have lower divorce rates than protestants.


Divorce as a Life Event

-Not necessarily a disaster nor inconsequential.
-Ranks at the top of list of stressful life events.
-A transitional crisis that interrupts developmental tasks and requires adjustment from family.
-A traumatic decision to make; the process of disengaging from one's partner starts before the decision is made.
-rarely a joint decision between partners.


Process of Divorce

1.5 to 3 year transition process.
-Can bring out the worst in people.
-results depend on how it is handle.


The Transition Framework (Disorganization-->Reorganization)

Individual Cognition
Family Meta-Cognition
The Separation
Systemic Reorganization
Systemic Redefinition


Individual Cognition

The Decision
-A process of leave taking may go on for years
-May come in for couples therapy to ease guilt or hand off their partner for caretaking.
The leavee is more vulnerable and angry.


Family Meta-Cognition

The Announcement
-Sometimes this shocks the system into taking steps towards change.
-Betrayal is common
-Vacillation is common and confusing for children-encourage parents to not share with kids until they are sure.
-Loss of idealized family.


The Separation

Dismantling the Nuclear Family:
-orderly separations are the least destructive
-clear boundaries are helpful
-keeping things as stable as possible for children.
-Children need to know what the structure will be!


Systemic Reorganization

The Binuclear Family:
-The family remains a family but with a different structure.


Types of Co-parenting relationships

-Perfect Pals
-Cooperative Colleagues
-Angry Associates, have trouble separating parental from marital issues. More structure needed for this type of relationship.
-Fiery Foes- cannot co-parent
-Dissolved Duos-one parent has left completely.


Systemic Redefinition

The family remains a family. New rules and rituals that are flexible with life transitions must be established.


The Binuclear Family

-Establish ground rules for living separately
-Rules within and across various subsystems.
-How rigid or flexible will depend on how the parents cooperate. Greater conflict=more rules and rigidity.


The Good Divorce

-The Family remains a family
-The negative effects on children are minimized
-The ex-spouses integrate divorce into their lives in healthy way.


Children's needs at divorce

-To have basic economic and psychological needs met.
-Support in maintaining relationships with members of their extended families.
-Parents who are supportive and cooperative.


Legal Issues

-still remain largely adversarial
-decide on as much as possible prior to legal involvement
-mediation as an alternative
-women in traditional long term marriages may need to have their interests protected more.


Gender Issues

Traditionally women have been socialized to invest their identity in the quality of their relationship so divorce often equals a personal failure.
-Men have worked harder to not become marginalized parents. They must take concrete steps to stay connected with their children after divorce.


Emotional Pressure Points

-When the decision is made
-The announcement
-When money/visitation/custody issues are discussed.
-The physical separation.
-The actual legal divorce
-As children graduate, marry, have children, or become ill.
-As each ex-spouse forms a new couple relationship, remarries, has children, moves, becomes ill, or dies.



Emotional loyalties come into play.
-Stepfamilies have no good models.


Tasks of stepfamilies

-giving up old model of family and accepting the complexity of the new form.
-Maintain permeable boundaries to permit shifting of household membership
-establish and maintain open lines of communication between all parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.


A New Paradigm

-Blended families will not work if they attempt to replicate the intact nuclear family or brady bunch model.
-The biological parent has to be the parent in charge of their own children.
-stepparent-child relationships need to develop over time and be what they grow into without expectations.
---They are to be treated as parent's spouse and deserving of respect.
---The younger the child the more likely relationship can grow into a parental one.
---latency age children may struggle the most with loyalty issues
---with adolescents a parental relationship may never develop, but a positive one can.
-Step parent can not compete with children for attention
-stereotyped gender role expectations can cause big problem.


3 Sets of Emotional Baggage (at remarriage)

-First Marriage
-The aftermath of separation, divorce, death and the period before the second marriage.


Common Mistakes

-Parents are preoccupied with their own emotional experiences and neglect their children's
-Treating new marriage as an event rather than a complex process that will take time to transform into a working family
-Trying to get children to resolve multiple loyalties by trying to sabotage or cut off from one parent to create clarity in the other.



Emotional Issues or acting out
-pseudomutuality or fusion
-loyalty conflicts
-Children need to access their full range of positive and negative feelings
-It is unrealistic to expect the step parent to love their spouse's children as much as his/her own.
-Triangulation: children do best with regular contact with both parents.


Family Connection vs. Dysfunction

Most complex when both spouses have children.
-Easiest if the previous spouse has died
-Hardest if new spouse has never been married
-Developing a sense of belonging tasks most families 3-5 years.
-Abuse and violence is more common in stepfamilies
-Finances and child rearing issues are the most common problems.
-remarriage of either spouse tends to decrease contact between biological children and fathers.
-Need to work on balance



-Stepfathers may be caught in double bind but should not take on role of disciplinarian
-stepmothers who are expected to step into role of caretaker are set up for failure.
-stepmothers and step daughters tend to have most difficulty
-daughters who are close with their mothers have difficulty with stepfathers
-divorce appears to be harder on boys and remarriage on girls.



-New spouses and ex
-New spouses, the ex, and the children
-Parent, biological children and stepchildren
-New Spouses and the parents of either spouse.


Clinical Guidelines

With Child focused problems be sure you have consent for treatment from all. And have contact with all parents.
-Work to establish co-parent cooperation
-Biological parents are in charge of their children
-Email communication can take the emotion down and provide documentation
-Working to help families have realistic expectations
-work to help families be comfortable with children's negative emotions.
-Keep emphasizing the importance of children having contact with all family members.
-Help parents have structure around visitation.
-FOO work as needed.


Single Parent Families

Resources is the major factor in what makes parenting work. Poverty plays a big role in stress about parenting. What role does loss play in the families structure? Parental death or abandonment?
Stigmatization of single parent families.


Parental Tasks

provide structure and nurturance
-managing day to day tasks.
Meet own needs for intimacy, companionship and community
-positive sense of family identity.
-maintain contact with missing parent when possible and extended family.
---idealization of missing parent is common.


The Parentified Child

-Older siblings may assume responsibility for younger ones.
-Harmful if the child is being asked to sacrifice own