Lesson 5 of 7 - evolve a high-nurturance family

Keys to Managing
a Divorcing Family

Balance multiple problems

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts' Council

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/fam/divorce.htm

Updated 03-10-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.  

      This YouTube video summarizes some of what you'll read in this article. The intro mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this site. I've reduced that to seven.

      This is one of a series of Lesson-5 articles on evolving and enjoying high-nurturance families. The series exists because the wide range of current U.S. social problems suggests that most families don't function very well. That illustrates the toxic effects of the epidemic [wounds + unawareness] cycle proposed in this educational Web site .

      Most cultures and religions value the institution of formal marriage to protect unborn children and stabilize society. Cultures vary widely on their attitudes and practice about legal divorce. In recent decades, Psychological and legal divorce has reached epidemic proportions - at least in the U.S. This implies (a) widespread family dysfunction, and (b)  major stress on millions of average adults and kids.

      This article offers suggestion on how to optimize family functioning  (nurturance) during the multi-year separation and divorce process. The suggestions are based on Lessons 1 thru 4 in this Web site. The article assumes you're familiar with...


      Here, "divorce" means...

  • one or both committed, cohabiting adult partners deciding they need to permanently reduce or end their relationship. This causes...

  • their home and family-system roles, rules, and rituals to change, and...

  • may result in on adult moving out to set up a new home, with or without one or more kids.

  • if the partners are legally married, divorce usually causes a legal and perhaps a church procedure to formally end the union and change the marital and parenting responsibilities of each mate. And divorce means...

  • a web of inter-related losses for all bonded family members.

      "Divorce recovery" means each person adjusting to many personal and family system changes, and grieving significant losses over time. . 

    There are many types of divorcing-family systems. This article focuses on families with one or more minor children and both bioparents, which split into two households.

      Premise: all families exist to nurture (fill the primary needs of) each of their three-generational members. Families range between very low nurturance ("dysfunctional") to very high nurturance ("functional"). Divorce is most apt to happen in low-nurturance families.

      My professional experience over 30 years suggests that five common hazards promote family dysfunction and divorce: This brief YouTube video summarizes these hazards:

Does this idea seem reasonable to you? If it's true, then all adults in a divorcing family (including grandparents) will profit if they commit to studying, discussing, and practicing the principles in lessons 1 thru 6 or 7 here.


      If you're an adult in a divorcing family, what can you do to strengthen the nurturance level of your multi-home family over time? Four groups of options are:

  • stabilizing your personal wholistic health;

  • stabilizing the relationship between divorcing parents;

  • filling the normal and special needs of the young people in your family; and...

  • upgrading the nurturance level (functioning) of your multi-generational family system over time.

Let's look briefly at key options in each of these interrelated areas. An overarching choice for all family adults and supporters is to adopt a family-system point of view as you choose among these options. I) suggest you read this whole article before following any links:

1) Stabilize Your Wholistic Health

      Each family adult...

_  inherited psychological wounds (a disabled true Self);

toxic attitudes;

addictions, including codependence;

_  personal strengths;

unawareness of key topics; and...

_  good-grief requisites and incomplete grief.

  • Patiently study and apply relevant topics in online lessons 1 thru 6 or 7.  Begin by working patiently to free your wise true Self to guide you in doing each of these vital tasks.

2) Options for Stabilizing Co-parenting Relationships

  • Ensure that your true Self is guiding you with these options (Lesson 1);

  • Adopt a patient long-range (multi-year) attitude;

  • Study these requisites for a healthy relationship (lesson 4);

  • Study and assess your relationship for these barriers;

  • Learn the seven communication skills in online lesson 2;

  • Apply the skills as appropriate with your ex mate;

  • Assess your ex's wholistic health (per the above). ;

  • Learn these options for analyzing and improving key relationships;

  • Study, discuss, and apply these articles on ex-mate relations;

  • If/as appropriate, discuss these 16 alternatives to divorce;

  • Invite your ex to work at these options with you for your kids' sakes;

  • Selectively inform your parents and key relatives and supporters of your progress with these options. Invite their support, as appropriate.

      Recall - we're summarizing options for managing a divorcing family.

3) Options for Filling Your Kids' Needs During Divorce

      Parenting minor kids during a family restructuring from psychological and legal divorce includes filling a number of special needs as well as normal developmental needs.

4) Options for Strengthening Your
 Family System During Divorce

  • Baseline: all adults adopt a family-systems point of view

  • Clarify and confirm who belongs to your multi-home ("extended") family. Option - draw and discuss structural maps of one or more of your family homes.

  • discuss and agree on your family-system's mission statement (purpose)

  • help each other learn how to hold effective family meetings;

  • all adults patiently study and discuss online lessons 1 thru 5;

  • identify and update key family roles and rules in and among your related homes, as needed;

  • put patient, cooperative effort in doing the three concurrent sets of divorce-adjustment options above;

  • discuss, agree on, and implement healthy family grieving and anger policies. Explain the policies to your young people and key family supporters.

  • study and discuss how to analyze and resolve "relationship problems" together, including these three common stressors.

  • Review these ideas for having "good enough" family gatherings and celebrations while you all are adapting to your many changes and losses.

  • Intentionally build and use a wholistically-healthy support network for you each and all.


      This Lesson-5 article offers four overlapping sets of options for managing a multi-generational family effectively during a divorce. Most of these options are useful in adapting successfully to any major family-system losses and changes (traumas).

  • adults help each other maintain your wholistic health.

  • optimize co-parenting relationships;

  • identify and fill your kids' normal and special needs; and...

  • strengthen your multi-home family system over time.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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