What is Positive Psychology?
Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living.” (Peterson, 2008)
“What Is Positive Psychology & Why Is It Important? [2019 Update].”
It is the scientific study of human thoughts, emotions, and behavior with their strengths in mind, not weaknesses. It’s about what it takes to build on the good life instead of repairing the bad by focusing on positive events and influences on lives. We need to be spending more time thinking about topics such as character strength and not what we’re lacking. These topics are studied to learn how to help people flourish and live their best lives (“What Is Positive Psychology & Why Is It Important? [2019 Update].”)!
Martin Seligman is widely seen as the father of contemporary positive psychology for he created the acronym PERMA. PERMA stands for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. While all of them are important, positive relations is one of the most essential parts for children dealing with the divorce of parents (“PERMA – A Well-Being Theory by Martin Seligman.”).
Focus Group: Teenagers Living with Divorced Parents
While I can not personally relate to this group, many of my friends have gone through this themselves so I wanted to truly understand what it was like for them. I wanted to get inside the brain of my best friend and see exactly what her experience has been. With a multitude of questions I asked during an interview, I started to see it – live through it in her eyes.
When she told me about the divorce in eighth grade, I was heartbroken for her. I was at a complete loss of what to say or do to comfort her and help her through it. This is the reason for choosing this topic as my project, I was unable to help her out before so now I want to help anyone else who feels alone and sad for their parent’s divorce.
Parents don’t always know what their kids are thinking because…they keep their feelings to themselves”Afifi
Around 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce! I know it’s shocking, but those are just the facts. Like you all probably know, divorce can be a very traumatic experience for children (American Psychological Association). Parents need to recognize divorce is stressful for children and results in an increase in sadness, anger, and anxiety. If parents are fighting, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the children because the child feels torn between the two, but it’s not child’s fault! They then internalize it and stress level goes up even further (Afifi).
Children have 3 major responses to fighting parents:
- Avoid emotions (not good) because they don’t want parents to see them feeling sad/guilty
- Mimic conflict → aggressive to other kids/people
- Confront parents and ask them to take them out of middle (best option for kids) (Afifi)
There has been research done that states that in a year or two they eventually adjust, but that is only with the right circumstances. Furthermore, recent research also states that children who have a poor relationship with one parent may have an extremely hard time dealing with divorce. (American Psychological Association)
Here’s a TED Talk on the impact of divorce on children:
What parents and teens can do to make divorce easier on both
- Keeping peace – teens can ask parents to try calling truce to any bickering/unkind words they might say to each other
- Be fair – teens shouldn’t take sides to the divorce favoring one parent or the other
- Keep in touch
- Work it out – helps if parents can figure out a way to make this work, especially because you may need to feel the support and presence of both parents even more during divorce
- Talk about the future – tell your parents about your concerns — when there’s enough time to sit down with one or both parents to discuss how the divorce will affect you
- Figure out your strengths – divorce can help them learn about their strengths, and put in place some new coping skills
- Live your life – make sure to participate in as many of your normal activities as possible
- Let others support you – talk about your feelings and reactions to the divorce with someone you trust (kids health) (“Dealing With Divorce (for Teens).”
Divorcing parents and children can benefit from speaking to psychologist to deal with emotions and adjust to changes such as group therapies (American Psychological Association). Here is a link to one of the websites: www.teencounseling.com is an online platform where teens from ages 13-20 can get help from a licensed therapist online.
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Doing a gratitude practice is one of the most effective ways to help children cope with their parents divorce. Join me in making a gratitude journal!
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Afifi, Tamara. “The Best Possible Thing You Can Do to Help Your Child through Divorce.” Ideas.ted.com, Ideas.ted.com, 25 Jan. 2018, ideas.ted.com/the-best-possible-thing-you-can-do-to-help-your-child-through-your-divorce/.
American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/divorce/.
“Dealing With Divorce (for Teens).” Edited by D’Arcy Lyness, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Jan. 2015, kidshealth.org/en/teens/divorce.html.
“PERMA – A Well-Being Theory by Martin Seligman.” Jane Taylor | Confidence Coaching | Wellbeing Coaching | Emotional Intelligence Coaching | Gold Coast | Mindfulness Teacher, www.habitsforwellbeing.com/perma-a-well-being-theory-by-martin-seligman/.
“What Is Positive Psychology & Why Is It Important? [2019 Update].” [2019 Update], 8 Apr. 2019, https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/what-is-positive-psychology-definition/.
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