Hurt to Hope - Post-Divorce Adjustment Program
- The Hurt to Hope program is designed to help children between the ages of 8 and 11 years manage the challenge of their parents' separation and divorce.
Children of 7 years and younger struggle to keep up during the program because they do not have the writing skills to participate in some of the exercises and children older than 11 years tend to have other pre-adolescent divorce-related issues to deal with.
- Any child of the right age will benefit from this group program, whether parents have just separated or have been divorced for several years already.
- Much research shows that it is at the onset of separation that children need to start dealing with divorce-related issues. Participation in the group avails the opportunity for children whose parents have just separated to be encouraged by children who have been in this life-situation for a while and no longer have such intense feelings, their lives have stabilized to a certain extent in their post-divorce situation; and it allows the children in the group whose parents have been divorced for several years the opportunity to resolve challenges being voiced by the children whose parents have just separated.
- Children in this life situation have psychological tasks to deal with over and above their normal developmental tasks at a time when other family members, especially parents, are dealing with their own emotional issues and are less available. These psychological tasks include conflicts of loyalties, adjusting to two separate parent environments, etc.
- The program evolves through three stages:
- The first stage focues on children's divorce-related feelings. Once children can identify what it is they are feeling they are more able to verbalize the issues they are dealing with.
- The second stage helps children learn problem-solving skills to deal with these issues. They learn to identify between problems they can't solve like finances, bringing parents back together again, deciding whether and if parents should date, etc. and problems they can solve and should spend their energy on: who they would like to play with, how to deal with difficult situations in the play ground, what activities they enjoy participating in, etc.)
- The third phase of the program helps children learn anger-control skills - how to express their anger (instead of keeping it inside and becoming depressed or explosive) in a way that does not destroy relationships or possessions.
In the final part of the program children are given hope for the future that even though their family structure has changed they can still experience love, trust, honesty, fun, etc. that happen in other family structures.
- Parents are requested to attend a pre-program meeting which is a supportive and educative environment for themselves, and can opt for mid-, and end-of-program, meetings where they come to understand some of the skills the children are learning so they can encourage their ongoing use at home.