|Each year 25,000 divorces occur in Missouri -- one of every two marriages -- and the majority of these involve children. These figures reflect a national picture in which almost one million divorces occur each year, a rate that the U.S. Census Bureau says will likely continue.
"Children's reactions to parental divorce are related to how parents inform them of their decision. Research shows that how parents handle a divorce is the key predictor of how the children will adjust," said Dr. Kim Leon, University of Missouri assistant professor of human development and family studies.
Leon heads a statewide program called Focus On Kids, which has helped more than 10,000 divorcing parents understand the feelings children may have and provides tips for talking to children about the divorce.
Focus on Kids is conducted in cooperation with Missouri's circuit courts. It satisfies a Missouri law that requires parents who are divorcing to attend an educational program.
"The key issue we emphasize is communication between parents and children so the children know what's going on. They need to be assured that their parents will still love them and that it's not their fault," said Leon.
Parents attending the course have already filed for divorce. The program does not attempt to change the parent's decision to divorce. It does provide information about mediation, counseling and other services that may help parents and children through the divorce process. Parents must attend the class separately.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Focus on Kids program (including times and locations) can find this information online.