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Life After Divorce

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What About the Kids?

Taking the sting out of divorce for its youngest victims.
By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey

In a perfect world, most parents would like to envelop their children in a protective bubble—safe from sadness, fear and harm. Nothing can burst that bubble like divorce.

“Children tend to take for granted that their home life and routine will be predictable, and that both parents will be there to take care of them,” says Dr. Alan Wofsey, chief of psychiatry at Lankenau Hospital and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. “When the parents separate, children are initially in a state of shock, not knowing how to feel, think or react.”

In many families, kids—particularly younger ones—have no idea their parents have been having problems. “So it hits them like a thunderbolt,” says Dr. John Rusk, a pediatric/adolescent psychiatrist in Ardmore.

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Fresh Start

A former divorce attorney weathers her own failed marriages on the way to self-reinvention.
By J.F. Pirro

There are two ways to look at the world, according to Carole Goldstein. You can look at what’s not working and what you don’t have, or you can look at what you want and what you can have—and by doing so, affect not only yourself but also everyone around you.

“This is no gift of birth,” she says of the latter option, which is her positive approach. “I’ve had to learn through the experiences of life.”

As Goldstein has learned, she’s evolved—and what perfect timing. These days, she says, we’re “living through transformational times” in which the old structures and paradigms are no longer working.

“That’s why there’s so much chaos,” says Goldstein. “The dinosaurs—the boomers once on the vanguard—can’t just learn to flow with it. The young are already integrated into the shift, so it doesn’t seem so chaotic to them.”

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No Fooling Around

Dating after divorce isn’t exactly child’s play.
By Ellie Slott Fisher

Divorce attorney. Check. Custody Agreement. Check. Property Settlement. Check. Dating as a single parent. Checkmate.

Forget what you recall about dating as a younger, carefree adult whose concept of a playdate meant drinking shots, partying till dawn, and maybe waking up in someone else’s bed. Today you’re drinking juice boxes, throwing Disney-themed extravaganzas, and hosting seven 12-year-olds with sleeping bags.

Dating as a parent is a whole new experience. For one thing, your dad won’t be wondering where you are—your son will. The influence your parents had over your choice of a mate will seem tepid compared to the role your kids can play.

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