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Maybe 6 R's can help children navigate divorce

Life is complicated. It always has been, but it seems more so now than in the past. Still, as the old saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Getting down to the fundamentals is a strong driving force. As an example, consider the common abbreviation, the three R's. It refers to what many consider educational basics - reading, writing and arithmetic. Never mind that the words don't all start with R. The gist is that these are fundamental.

Over the generations, many have developed similar references to other facets of everyday live. For example, a couple of years ago we offered up a post that suggested a possible three R's that parents might want to rely upon to make divorce easier for children. They included establishing solid routines, creating new rituals and offering consistent reassurance that the children are loved amid the upheaval of divorce.

Most parents would agree that there is value in all of those suggestions, but at least one expert believes that there is room for three other R's. And the suggestion from this doctor is that these tenets can apply in any situation that life might throw at us - not just divorce.

Included on this list by Deborah Gilboa, MD, are:

  • Respect: This is the characteristic of being able to recognize value in people - ourselves as well as others. But Gilboa goes further to stress the importance of teaching children how to demonstrate and communicate respect for others in order to nourish positive relationships.
  • Responsibility: Single parenting has a way of requiring that children take on more responsibility than they might in a two-parent home. This might trigger feelings of guilt in parents, but Gilboa suggests fostering a view with children that new responsibility is an opportunity. Her argument is that responsibility expands learning and teaches confidence, which is an important life lesson.
  • Resilience: Life is not a garden. Things won't always go the way we expect. Divorce certainly is not something parents anticipate when they start a family. Gilboa suggests parents can help children learn resilience by being more mindful of when to protect a child and when it might be OK to step back.

There are surely more R's to consider, but perhaps these are enough for now. 

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