As intelligent and caring coParents, we have the knowledge and potential to turn the corner and change our cultures of blame into cultures of learning skills.
We just need enough reasonable people to learn the skills – and teach them to the kids. These three big skills are:
- Flexible Thinking
- Managed Emotions
- Moderate Behaviors
These are the skills for handling a rapidly changing world and an unknown future. They are the key skills for close relationships, decision-making and leadership. Children who learn these skills will have unlimited potential, because they will be able to handle problems without becoming overwhelmed or distracted by blaming others. The children who learn these skills will be the problem-solvers of the future.
So how do we do this? First, we all need to really understand that the problem isn’t about bad parents, but about bad behaviors – many people’s bad behaviors. Then, all of us need to be involved in working on the solution. No one person – parent or professional – can prevent or repair alienation. It has to be a change in these cultures (family, court, society) surrounding the child.
What really give me hope are three new developments:
- Abusive cultures can change. For example, a recent comprehensive study by the U. S. federal government showed that child abuse reduced between 1993 and 2006 at a rate of 23% for physical abuse, 33% for emotional abuse and 44% for sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the economic downtown since 2008 has increased child abuse once again – but we now know that we have the ability to make a large scale change for the benefit of children when enough people work at it.
- Brain research has new discoveries about how children learn. There are new discoveries which can be used to help parents help their children develop skills for resilience, rather than alienation.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy methods are having success in changing people’s behavior. Even some people with personality disorders can change, by learning small skills in small steps with lots of structure and encouragement.
For these reasons, I have hope. It is urgent that we work together to help children learn these skills now. The future of our society may depend on it.
Excerpt from Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High-Conflict Divorce. By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. Published by HCI Press.