At a recent continuing education seminar for San Diego family law attorneys, a family court judge was asked what, if anything, the court tries to do to minimize the harmful impacts of divorce on children. The judge responded that she often refers families in her courtroom to a program called Kids’ Turn San Diego, and that she has found the program to be very beneficial for children whose parents are going through a divorce. I began to do some research on the program out of my own curiosity, and I’ve decided to share a bit about the program in case any of our readers with children are also interested in knowing more about what they can do to help their child cope with divorce or separation.
Kids’ Turn is a nonprofit organization that was begun in San Diego in 1996, and is affiliated with the Kids’ Turn program of San Francisco that was already in existence at the time. The program’s stated mission is “promoting, supporting and securing the well-being of children who are experiencing the challenges of family separation.” It seems that the basic premise of the program is to give children a place to express their feelings and discuss their experiences with other children around the same age who are going through the same thing. The children’s groups are divided by age into 3 separate groups; the first for ages 5 through 7, the second for 8 through 12 year olds, and the third is for teenagers. They also have groups for parents.
Each workshop session stretches 4 weeks, for 2 hour sessions over 4 Saturdays. In the groups, the children are encouraged to talk about their feelings. By joining together children who are going through the same or similar experiences, the program is trying to mitigate feelings of alienation that they might feel in their typical peer group; where they might feel like they are alone and that they are the only one facing these challenges. In the parent’s group, they are taught about healthy communication with their children and with the other parent. They also learn about their children’s behaviors from a developmental perspective. The ultimate goal is to build positive parent/child relationships that result in increased self-esteem for the children, which in turn creates children that “are more likely to do well in school, have positive peer relationships, and less likely to experience mental health issues, use drugs or alcohol or engage in risky behaviors.” Kids’ Turn also offers other services for military families as well as counseling services for children.
Please be informed that I am in no way affiliated with Kids’ Turn, nor have I ever had any personal experience with the program as of yet. However, as a divorce attorney, the struggle of the children whose parents are going through divorce, especially of a divorce that is highly contentious or litigious, always weighs heavily on my mind. I find that all too often, parents get so wrapped up in their divorce and disagreements with their spouse that they forget what is in the best interest of their own children, and don’t realize the impact that their actions are having on their child’s life in both the short and long term. For that reason alone, I am happy to investigate and promote a program that is finding ways to help families cope with this major life change in a very positive way.
If you are interested in either participating in or supporting the Kids’ Turn programs, you can access their website here. And, if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation, please contact us. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.