Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Next week you will turn in a Assignment on the theology of marriage and divorce. Present your thoughts to the class, what are your theological perspectives on divorce and rema - Writingforyou

Next week you will turn in a Assignment on the theology of marriage and divorce. Present your thoughts to the class, what are your theological perspectives on divorce and rema

 Next week you will turn in a Assignment on the theology of marriage and divorce. Present your thoughts to the class, what are your theological perspectives on divorce and remarriage? Respectfully challenge your peers who may have a different position from yours. Challenge your peers on their beliefs, considering alternative sides to help build their own arguments. Be sure to cite it all through the lens of Scripture and be respectful of one another on this potentially heated discussion.   

must be 400 words , APA format 3 scholarly sources (including 1 biblical source)

 Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships. Taylor & Francis. 

Chapter 7 The Fifth Challenge

Ex-Spouses Are Part of the Family

Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships. Taylor & Francis.

DOI: 10.4324/9780203813645-7

By definition, stepfamilies include at least one other parent, alive or dead, outside the household, who is an inextricable part of the new family. Meeting this challenge requires stepfamily members to find the best in themselves under circumstances that sometimes pull for the worst.

Available vocabulary no longer reflects the realities of this challenge. Sharp increases in cohabitation and surging numbers of children being born out of wedlock (Cherlin, 2004) have rendered the lexicon of “marriage,” “divorce,” and “remarriage” obsolete. This book stretches the terms “post-divorce,” “postdivorce parenting,” and “ex-spouse” to include both previously married and never-married co-parenting relationships. To reflect rising rates of joint custody, this chapter generally refers to the child's “other parent,” without the quotes, hoping not to confuse “other” with “less important.” The terms “nonresidential parent” and “noncustodial” parent will refer only to an ex-spouse who does not have joint custody.

The Challenge

The Problem for Children Is Not Divorce. It Is Conflict

Repeated exposure to affectively arousing events compromises children's ability to regulate their own physiological arousal.

(Fosco & Grych, 2008, p. 844)

Stepfamilies often begin in the early years post-divorce when interparental conflict remains highest. Even when legal proceedings have ended, recoupling can rekindle, or provoke, tensions between ex-spouses.

The Children's Story

It is not whether children live in a first-time family, single-parent family, or a stepfamily that most powerfully predicts their wellbeing. It is the level of conflict, combined with the quality of parenting practices. Indeed, some family scholars feel that conflict is the most robust predictor of post-divorce outcomes for children.1 The drawing in Figure 7.1 was created by a focus group of young adult stepchildren. It vividly captures their experience of feeling torn between the people they love.

The pressure may come from outright battling, snide comments, or inadvertent “leaking.”2 For several years, Heather Kramer was her mother's confidante. (Genogram on page 73.)

My Mom Was Leaking

After my dad met Vivian, my mom was having a really hard time. She would talk to me about all the bad things that were happening between her and my dad and Vivian. Part of me wanted to know every single detail. Part of me didn't want to hear any of it. My stomach would hurt for hours each time we talked. Finally my friends convinced me that I had to tell her to stop. Thank goodness she listened.

What the Research Says about Conflict and Kids

Three decades of empirical research details the impact of conflict on children, in first-time families, post-divorce, and in stepfamilies. Negative outcomes include lower levels of self esteem, compromised social and cognitive competence, lower academic achievement, and poorer subsequent romantic relationships. Even moderate tension between parents exerts significant negative effects on children's attention, academic achievement, and immune systems (El-Sheikh, Buckhalt, Cummings, & Keller, 2007). The damage continues well after children have left the parental home. Adult and young adult children of chronically conflicted, never-divorced couples, especially girls, report significantly lower wellbeing than their peers with low-conflict divorced parents (Amato & Afifi, 2006).3 4 5

Stepcouples Form in the Presence of Former Spouses

Parental conflict does not just affect the children in stepfamilies. Stepparents find they have married their partner and their partner's previous marriage! For good or for ill, the pathways by which ex-s pouses respond to each other become firmly entrenched. While some parents become accustomed to this emotional choreography, new partners like Sandy Danforth want change. (Genogram on page 5).

“I Also Married Eric's First Marriage!”

I knew when I married Eric that his daughter Elyssa was part of the deal. What I didn't count on was that I also married Eric's marriage to Bonnie. Eric is usually such a calm, steady guy. But when he was upset with Bonnie, he’d turn into a total crazy man. For a few years there, they couldn't talk about a thing without a big blowup. I tried to adjust. But I couldn't stand it. It took me a while, but I finally managed to tell Eric that it had to stop.

On the other end of the spectrum, highly collaborative ex-spouse relationships can also be challenging. Parents have been making decisions together about their children for many years, first as partners, and then as divorced co-parents. Including the stepparent in decisions that affect them requires detouring from well-worn pathways. (Genogram on page 3.)

Ellen Wants to Switch Weekends

Kevin Anderson and his ex-wife Ellen had established a very cooperative postdivorce relationship. In this spirit, Kevin gladly agreed to Ellen's request to take the children for an extra weekend, but forgot, yet again, to consult Claire. In addition, instead of a few days alone with her husband, Claire now confronted yet another weekend in her stuck outsider position. She was both hurt and disappointed. Kevin was embarrassed. He was also torn: Taking care of his wife required that he not only break the deal he had made with his ex-wife, but give up some treasured extra time with his kids.

Very collaborative ex-spouses engage in a web of joint activities that are supportive to children and comforting to single parents. Some of these may now feel intrusive or threatening to a new stepparent. Vivian recalls the first two years of her marriage to Hank. (Genogram on page 73.)

“I Had to Share Hank with the World”

It was so hard in the beginning. Hank's ex-wife Cheryl was calling all the time and asking Hank to go to dinner and fix her plumbing, and her car, and every other thing. Just when I finally had a partner, I felt like I had to share Hank with the world.

Recoupling Affects Ex-Spouses

The recoupling of one former partner impacts the other. Children's concerts, sports events, birthdays, graduations, and weddings now include the new partner as well as his or her children and family. Even in the friendliest of circumstances, an ex-spouse's recoupling can awaken old feelings of rejection and provoke fears about being replaced as a parent. Hank's remarriage created a fundamental change in his post-divorce relationship with his ex-wife Cheryl. It also unleashed a flood of old feelings for her. Hank's new wife Vivian's need to establish a rigid boundary around her own new family only increased the pain.

“I Went Really Dark”

When Hank told me about Vivian, I got really depressed. I’m the one who left, but I guess it churned up a lot about feeling like Hank never really loved me. It didn't help that Vivian is eight years younger than me and she managed to get pregnant right away. She's also skinny and gorgeous, even now, after two kids. I felt so threatened. The worst was, she put a complete stop to Hank and me doing things together with our daughter Heather. I went really dark for a long time.

Moms and Stepmoms: Colliding Needs and Views of Reality

Like Vivian and Cheryl, moms and stepmoms often have some of the most emotionally fraught cross-household relationships. Many factors can contribute to this “perfect storm.”

Despite many changes in women's roles, identity and self-esteem remain firmly tied to mothering for many. Both mothers and stepmothers fear being marginalized or labeled as a “bad mother.” Stepmothers who move prematurely into a parenting role can exacerbate mothers’ fears of losing their children to another woman.

When both moms and stepmoms can manage their own feelings of insecurity and make room for each other, children gain. When they cannot, everyone suffers.6

Dads and Stepdads Seem to Have It Easier

Dads and stepdads generally have a much easier time with each other than moms and stepmoms. The majority of stepchildren form positive relationships with both their nonresidential father and their stepfather (Ganong, et al., 1999; White & Gilbreth, 2001). In a large random sample, increased contact with noncustodial fathers did not affect stepfather—child relationships. In fact, children with the best outcomes were close to both their stepfathers and their nonresidential fathers. Those most at risk were close to neither (King, 2006).

Nonresidential Father-Child Relationships Are Vulnerable

Even though rates of joint legal custody are rising in the U.S., women are still awarded primary physical custody most of the time (Singer, 2009; White & Gilbreth, 2001). This means that most divorced dads are nonresidential parents. Empirical support for the central role of fathers in children's wellbeing is now unassailable. Increasing numbers of men are eager to remain involved with their children and the percentage of those maintaining regular contact is also rising.7 8 Sadly, however, nonresidential father—child relationships are vulnerable to deepening cycles of disconnection. For the first year after Hank and Cheryl separated, Hank Kramer saw his daughter Heather regularly but still he could feel their connection eroding.

Hank Starts to Lose His Daughter

I’d call Heather and she would be doing homework or in the middle of texting a friend. I knew that was normal. But it was so hard. I couldn't talk to her in the morning over breakfast, or sit in the living room and watch a game with her. I even missed knowing she was sleeping upstairs. I knew I was losing her.

About two-thirds of children do maintain some connection with their nonresidential dads. However, somewhere between a quarter and a third of school-age children report no contact at all with their noncustodial dads in the previous year (King, 2006).9 School activities and peer relationships can make it increasingly difficult for kids to shift houses every other weekend. Like Heather, adolescent girls are particularly at risk for losing connection with their nonresidential dads (Coleman, et al., 2000; Pasley & Moorefield, 2004).

When Dads Become Stepfathers: Losses and Loyalty Binds for Men

About two-thirds of nonresidential dads recouple (White & Gilbreth, 2001). When a nonresidential dad partners with a woman with children, the losses for dads can be compounded by loyalty binds. Recoupled dads may find themselves more involved with their new partner's children than with their own. To add to the pressure, when nonresident dads spend time alone with their own children, their new wives feel may abandoned. The financial needs of the first and second family may also be in conflict.10 The toll of loss and loyalty binds can be heavy.

Hank Feels Doubly Alone

I miss Heather every single day. Sometimes every single hour. When I play with Vivian's kids, or I hold our baby Holly, I am thinking of Heather at that age. It's like I’m not here and I’m not there. When the child support check goes out, Vivian gets mad that my income isn't being spent in our household. I feel torn as a dad and inadequate as a provider all the time. Vivian has her own upset about all this, so I can't talk about it with her. It's like I’m doubly alone.

What the Research Says about Co-Parenting Arrangements

Many stepfamilies begin taking shape while co-parenting schedules are still being worked out. Arrangements also change over time,11 Empirical data can help support wise choices.

Joint Custody?

While there is general agreement that joint custody is not appropriate where there is violence, mental illness, or extremely high conflict, the data suggests that joint custody generally provides better outcomes all around (Bauserman, 2002), irrespective ofthe level ofsocioeconomic status and pre-divorce conflict (Seltzer, 1998).12 13

Collaborative Co-Parenting Is Best for Kids

Highly collaborative co-parents insure the most positive outcomes for their children (Hetherington, et al., 1998). They communicate easily and often about childrearing issues and they resolve their differences constructively. Some continue to celebrate birthdays and some major holidays together, often with new spouses included (Ahrons, 2004).

Low-Conflict Parallel Parenting Is Next Best

The vast majority of divorced parents practice “parallel parenting,” running their households quite separately from each other. Although less optimal than highly collaborative co-parenting, low-conflict parallel parenting serves children quite well (Hetherington, 1993; Hetherington, et al., 1998; Pryor, 2004; White & Gilbreth, 2001). Not surprisingly, this is especially so when parents are nurturing and provide adequate supervision (Furstenberg & Cherlin, 1991).

Supporting Young Children in Two Houses

Feelings run especially high when decisions about parenting schedules involve young children. Sleepovers, even for very young children, support wellbeing by strengthening father—child relationships (Pruett, 2000; Pruett, Ebling, & Insabella, 2004).14

More predictable and consistent parenting plans produce better adjusted children in both high and low conflict families. Consistent weekday schedules are important for children under three. Weekends can be flexible (Pruett, et al., 2004). Children with more sensitive temperaments, and those who have difficulty planning and keeping track of their belongings, are also better supported by consistent, predictable schedules.

When Stepcouples Form as the Result of an Affair

All five challenges, including this one, are intensified when stepcouples form as the result of an affair.

Hold the Complexity

Americans, particularly, have a knee jerk tendency to condemn the person who stepped out of the marriage. However, the reality is very often more complex. Affairs are rarely the best way to resolve a marital deadlock. However, they usually (not always) result from a long series of events in which both partners have contributed to widening gaps in understanding and closeness.15 16

Insiders and Outsiders When There Has Been an Affair

Insider parents in these families have to a lot to juggle. They must balance their new partner's desire for acceptance with not only their children's pain but their ex-spouse's feelings of hurt, anger, and confusion. They also have to make room for all of their own competing feelings. Joy and relief may sit right next to heavy guilt, and enormous grief.

Stepparents often become the focus of blame for both ex-spouses and children. They often will need to remain in a more extreme outsider position, and for longer, while the insider parent rebuilds trust with children, and the ex-spouse begins the recovery process.

Children After an Affair

I generally discourage “telling the truth” about affairs to children. Affairs, and all of the events that lead up to them, fall in the “sordid details between ex-spouses” category, not in the “kids need to know” category. When children do know, the healing process becomes infinitely more complex. The new stepcouple's desire for a fresh start will diverge even more starkly than usual from children's need for time to work through their own hurt and betrayal.

Parents’ relationships with their children are often deeply compromised in these cases, especially when the ex-spouse involves the kids. Loyalty binds after an affair can be especially tight for children, who often side with the parent they feel is more vulnerable. Some begin refusing visitation. The urge for parents to explain rather than empathize, to give up entirely, or to press children to “get on with it,” can be strong. The repair process with children is often long and slow, but for those who can hang in, healing does happen.

Parents will often need to see their children alone, without stepparents present, for a very long period of time. Clinical work with the parent often focuses on enabling the parent to remain truly present to children's feelings of anger and betrayal. When children refuse contact, I suggest that parents write an “I’m still here” letter. “I know you are hurt and very angry with me. Right now you are siding with your mother/father, who is hurting a lot. When you are ready, I am here and we will work this through, a little bit at a time.” In my experience, when parents can hang in, relationships do eventually heal.

Ex-Spouses Are Especially Raw

A custodial mom who has been left is especially likely to withhold visitation. I am often asked whether parents (usually fathers) should go to court to enforce visitation. My concern is that even if fathers win, children arrive in the new household with agonizingly tight loyalty binds, which may actually compromise the repair process. Clinical work with the ex-spouse begins by differentiating the adult's needs from those of the children. “Do you love your kids more than you hate your ex?”

Parents and Stepparents Have Different Burdens

Recoupled parents who have had an affair, especially fathers who tend to lose custody, often suffer enormous losses. Reaching for a loving adult relationship often costs them not only their children, but long-term relationships with in-laws and friends. This cost is also born by stepparents who find themselves living with a partner who is awash with grief and guilt. Stepparents may also carry their own load of guilt. They may also be more outraged than parents are by the behavior of children and ex-spouses. Those who are able to provide support and compassion can play an important role in the healing process.

Easy Wrong Turns

Keeping Children Caught in the Conflict

It should be clear by now that divorced parents who cannot stop fighting with each other fill their children's lives with tension. Parental conflict all too often transforms life cycle events from “occasions of pride in growing up” to “reminders of continuing pain and loss” (Whiteside, 1988b, p. 35). Some parents attempt to avoid conflicted communication with their ex-spouses by passing messages through their children. This strategy adds unbearably to children's experience of being “the bone between two dogs” (Braithwaite, et al., 2008).

Circling the Wagons

One way to dispense with the awkwardness of ongoing ex-spouse relationships is to draw a tight boundary around the new family. Heather Kramer describes the devastating consequences. (Genogram on page 73.)

“I Really Lost My Dad”

For the first two years after the divorce, my mom and dad got along pretty well. We would have dinners together, and we would all go out for my birthday. It felt like I still had a family. My dad and I were kind of disconnected, but at least I knew he was there. After my dad met Vivian, everything changed. Vivian wouldn't even let me see my dad unless she was there, too. She put the kibosh on mom and me and my dad getting together. It was like another divorce. Only this time, I really lost my dad.

Moms Close the Gates

Sometimes a rigid boundary between a child's two families is drawn not by the new stepfamily, but by a threatened ex-wife. While some mothers do refuse contact due to real concerns about their children's safety or wellbeing, others acknowledge that, all too often, their reasons have nothing to do with their children. We need to differentiate between the former, who need validation and support, and the latter, who need compassionate, firm help to resolve their anxiety or anger in a different way.17

Cutting Off One Set of Grandparents

Especially for adolescents in single-parent families and stepfamilies, close relationships with grandparents are linked to fewer emotional problems and more positive social behavior (Attar-Schwartz, Tan, Buchanan, Flouri, & Griggs, 2009; Hetherington, et al., 1998). Unfortunately, paternal grandparent—child relationships are especially vulnerable to post-divorce cut-off by former daughters-in-law (C.L. Johnson, 1998).

Stories of Stepfamilies Fostering Co-Parenting Relationships

Helping Kids Feel Centered

When the adults step up to this challenge, children feel centered and safe, rather than caught between the people they love. Unlike the child in Figure 7.1, here is Sabina Danforth at 12, reaping the rewards of positive relationships with both her dad and her stepdad.

“I Love My Dad and I Love My Stepdad”

My dad is the best cuddler ever. Even though I’m pretty big now, I still like to climb in my daddy's lap and get big hugs from him. My dad is pretty emotional, like me. Eric, my stepdad, is real calm most of the time. He helps me and my mom when we get mad at each other. He teaches me about things like organic food and how to organize my room.

Sabina also feels free to enjoy the widening differences between her two homes.

Both Twinkies and Tofu

At first it was hard. But now I really like my two houses. If I want to laze around, eat Twinkies, and watch TV, Dad and Lydia's is definitely the place to be! If I want to be really active and eat healthy, my mom and Eric's is the place to go. It's like my family has helped me get to know different sides of me.

Communicating Constructively about Kids

Successful ex-spouses, even highly conflicted ones, communicate directly with each other, not through children. They circumvent conflict by using brief phone calls, texts, emails, short notes focused on the mundane, factual exchange of information about schedules, activities, and health appointments, not their personal relationship.18

Cross-household communication about adolescents can be particularly challenging. Adolescents often prefer more flexibility and longer time periods with each of their parents. However, “I’m spending the night at Dad's” all too easily becomes a cover for an unsupervised sleepover. Adolescents fare best when co-parents honor the need for flexibility, but still maintain consistent monitoring and supervision between households. Mona Hoffman Heller describes how she and her ex-husband, Fred, stepped up to the challenge (Genogram on page 47).

A “Parental GPS System” for Maddie

Fred and I don't get along that well. We run pretty separate households. But the girls, especially Maddie when she got into her teens, were taking advantage of our communication gaps to get into some big trouble. Finally Fred and I had a pow wow.

We agreed that whenever one of the girls shifted houses or had a sleepover plan, we would text each other with the contact info for where she was going. We called it our parental GPS system. If she wasn't where she said she’d be, we agreed that we’d tell each other. No matter whose house she was at, she lost her cell phone for a week.

Successfully Negotiating Holidays across Households

In a stepfamily, holiday celebrations can require coordinating with not only an ex-spouse, but his or her entire kinship network. Sandy Danforth demonstrates the recipe for meeting this challenge: flexibility, some creativity, and enough generosity and self-control to put children's needs first. (Genogram on page 5.)

“Chosen Christmas”

Before their divorce, Sandy and Dennis Danforth and their daughter Sabina had a much loved tradition of spending Christmas Eve with Dennis's sister Maggie. After the divorce, Sabina had continued this tradition with her dad, switching to her mom's for Christmas Day. Then Aunt Maggie's husband landed a new job 700 miles away in North Carolina. Sandy was faced with either allowing Sabina to spend the whole holiday with her dad in North Carolina, or ending this treasured ritual.

Sandy said, “Giving up Christmas Day with my girl felt so hard, but it seemed like the right thing for Sabina. And for Dennis. Eric suggested that we use those four days to go to our favorite B and B in Vermont. That year, we began celebrating “Chosen Christmas” with Sabina and Elyssa a few days after Sabina returned from North Carolina. We have done that ever since. In return, Sabina is with us every Thanksgiving and Dennis does Chosen Thanksgiving. I still miss Sabina on Christmas, but it has become a really special time for Eric and me.”

“In retrospect, two Christmases in two days was way too much for Sabina. She almost always had what we called her holiday meltdown. Last year we realized that the meltdowns had stopped completely. When I asked her about it she said, ‘Now on Christmas and Thanksgiving, I can breathe, Mommy.”’

Stepparents and Parents Supporting Each Other

Helping Nonresidential Dads Hang In

Stepparents can exacerbate the distance between nonresidential dads and their kids, as we saw with Vivian and Hank Kramer. Or they can help their partners move closer to their children.

A Larson Hug Is Not a Hug

Tom Larson complained frequently about missing his three young adult children. His third wife Gloria's response was, “But you don't call them!”

“They should call me!”

“So call them!”

“They don't return my calls.”

“Right,” said Gloria, “you call once and then you give up. Text them! All kids return text messages.” “What would I say?” “Ask them about them!” said Gloria. She added, “And, Honey, a Larson hug is not a hug. Give them a real hug.” After a visit to his newly married daughter Trisha's house, Gloria added, “You want a better relationship with Trisha? Cut the negatives! The first thing you say is not, ‘Your deck needs staining.”’

Like Hank Kramer and Tom Larson, fathers often miss their children terribly. And like Tom Larson, they often need extra support to keep reaching out.19

The Need for Support Goes Both Ways

Especially for residential stepmothers, staying involved without usurping or threatening a child's mother can be a tricky business.20 A supportive partner helps immensely.

“I Couldn't Do It without Eric”

Even when Elyssa was still barely talking to me, I was shopping for school clothes with her and baking brownies for the class picnic. Bonnie did not none of those things, but she needed the credit for being a great mom. If we were at a school function together, Bonnie definitely needed to be front and center, right next to Elyssa. For Elyssa's sake, I would just step back and let Bonnie be the mom.

It was the right thing. But it was hard. At first Eric would start ranting about Bonnie, which didn't help at all. Finally, he calmed down and got his head on straight. After that, I could go home and he’d put his arms around me. Knowing he’d be there when I got home made it much easier for me to stay on the sidelines. When Bonnie was especially horrible to me, he would take me out for a really nice dinner and we’d always order the two most sinful desserts on the menu.

Managing Old and New Relationships with the Extended Family

Recoupling often requires some renegotiation of longstanding relationships with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friendship networks. This was the case for Connie Chen and her mother, Carol. (Genogram is on page 5.)

Connie and Her Mom Rework Their Relationship

“My mother is part of me and Cody,” Connie had announced with the case-closed tone she often used early in her relationship with Burt. Connie had not been close to her mother as a child. However, when Connie's husband Larry died, Carol, by then a widow herself, had moved in with Connie and Cody for a full year. In the years since then, Connie and her mother had talked several times a day, often late into the night. They also spent all of their holidays together. Now, however, the late night phone calls intruded on Connie and Burt's time alone together. Carol was also firmly allied with Connie in painting Brandon as the source of the family's problems. The mother-daughter relationship that had been so sustaining in single-parenthood now threatened to undermine Connie's new family.

Over several meetings in various configurations, we set about reworking the boundaries and integrating Carol in a different, more supportive way. Many different factors contributed to the success of this effort. Carol had adored Larry. In our first joint meeting, Carol divulged “a crazy fear” that if she welcomed Burt, she would be “un