Few things traumatize children as deeply as divorce. And yet divorce is startlingly common, especially in Oklahoma.

Last year, 4,007 parents completed one of Family & Children’s Services’ Helping Children Cope with Divorce programs. The four-hour seminar is mandatory and court-ordered for divorcing parents of minor children in Tulsa, Rogers, Osage and several other northeast Oklahoma counties.

“If you have children, the end of your marriage doesn’t signify the end of your relationship,” said Claudia Arthrell, senior program director of professional and divorce services. “The dynamic between the former spouses certainly changes, but maintaining a respectful, cooperative connection is vital to the well-being of the children.”

During Helping Children Cope with Divorce, participants learn how best to respond to children’s most typical reactions to divorce and techniques for positive co-parenting.  Nearly three-quarters of seminar attendees report the information they’ve learned will help them reduce co-parenting conflicts.  

Though required once divorce proceedings begin, couples can – and should, according to Arthrell – attend a seminar before permanent changes to their relationship.

“Ideally, couples will attend together – when they’re thinking of divorce, before they’ve filed – to get a good idea of how to tell their children and how to work through the process together, rather than letting an adversarial court system dictate their relationship with their kids,” explained Arthrell.

Family & Children’s Services holds dozens of Helping Children Cope with Divorce seminars each year in Tulsa, Owasso, Broken Arrow and Claremore. Since the program’s inception in 1994, 80,569 divorcing parents have completed a Helping Children Cope with Divorce seminar at Family & Children’s Services.