As a ballroom dancer, I count myself among the millions of Americans who are devoted fans of the ABC show, Dancing with the Stars. Recently, I found myself particularly moved by Derek and Julianne Hough’s performance to “Unsteady,” which they used to portray the feelings of isolation and emotional instability that children often feel during the divorce process, allowing dance to help them cope.
It is imperative that parents not overlook their children’s needs during their divorce. With so much going on – and so much potentially at stake in terms of finances, property rights, and parenting time – it is easy for parents to become consumed by the process. But, a divorce will often be among the first and most difficult emotional challenges in a child’s life and children of all ages need guidance and support every step of the way.
How Dance Can Help Children Cope with Divorce
Throughout my life, I have taken classes in a wide variety of forms of dance, from salsa and cha-cha to Hustle and West Coast swing. I am an avid dancer to this day, and I credit dance with much of the strength and confidence I have cultivated over the years, both in my personal life and in my legal practice. Dance is certainly great fun and great exercise, but for young children who are still developing their sense of self, it can also be so much more.
As outlined by the organization, Advancing Dance Education in the Arts, participating in dance offers children:
- Physical Development – Physical development can be important to children’s confidence, and it can often encourage children to continue to progress in their chosen pursuit (i.e. dance) while also spurring interest in new activities.
- Emotional Maturity – Dance gives children the opportunity to express their emotions in a creative and judgment-free environment. This allows for a more rapid development of emotional maturity, which is a key attribute for coping with difficult circumstances such as divorce.
- Social Awareness – Children who participate in dance often find it easier to interact in social settings and to overcome challenging circumstances. As a method of expression, learning dance often helps children develop their other communication skills as well.
- Cognitive Development – Dance presents many unique challenges, and it is overcoming these challenges through physical, emotional, and social maturity that offers some of the most satisfying benefits of dancing. This ability to overcome challenges can translate into all other aspects of the child’s life, including coping with their parents’ divorce.
Helping Children through the Process with Child-Centered Divorce
One of the best parts about Derek and Julianne’s performance was that it culminated with a focus on the children. Derek and Julianne lifted two young children into an embrace, while themselves embracing the parent figures who were facing their own struggles attempting to cope with their changing lives.
As a divorce lawyer, to me, this was reflective of what is known as “child-centered divorce.” In the vast majority of cases, it will be in everyone’s best interests to actively make the children’s needs a top priority in the divorce. This includes (i) making sure the children have the tools and support they need to cope with the process, (ii) putting child-related issues such as parenting time and financial support first, and (iii) preparing the children to transition into their new lives once the divorce is final.
Contact MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC for an Initial Consultation
At MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we focus on helping divorcing parents make decisions with their children’s needs in mind. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of combined legal experience, and we rely on this experience to provide thoughtful, insightful advice that will benefit our clients for years to come. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about your divorce, we invite you to call 201-880-9770 or request an appointment at our Hackensack, NJ law offices today.