"It's Not My Fault" helps children of divorce or separation

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to a representative with the Better Life Counseling Center, Arkansas ranks number two in the country when it comes to divorce, with Northeast Arkansas identified as the largest area in the state. It's a statistic that leaves a number of children forced to adjust.

"Whenever a divorce occurs, it's not just the adults lives that are involved. The children are impacted as well," said Jeff Cline, who works at the Better Life Counseling Center in Jonesboro.

But a new program called "It's Not My Fault" is now available to hopefully give children the support they need.

"An African proverb says that when two elephants fight it the grass that gets hurt and so often times children are the innocent by-standers," said Cline.

Cline leads the "Parenting Separately" class at the center for divorced or separated parents.

"We were getting so much positive feedback about the help we were able to provide parents. It made us realize that there really isn't anything being offered for children to deal with this life change," said Cline.

He says "It's Not My Fault" came out of the need to give kids a platform to cope.

"Children are having to adjust to now living in a single parent situation or sometime eventually a step parent situation. The program just gives them a voice," said Cline

"They don't really understand the why behind what is happening to their family. Sometimes their world just falls apart and this is just going to help them navigate that process," said Lauren Orbison, who is going to coordinate the program.

She says the outlet is not designed as therapy or counseling but more as a support group.

Orbison says research has found people who have support, tend handle a big transition, like this, better.

"The biggest thing it does, which is why we are calling it, "It's Not My Fault" is just so kids can know that this is not something they caused or created, which is a very common misconception," said Orbison.

Kids will meet once a month for six months, at no cost. Orbison says they also want to help children be able to recognize a successful marriage or relationship.

"Give them tools that they can take with them when they grow up and use in their own relationships to hopefully be more successful," said Orbison.

The program will start the beginning of January, and will be funded through the United Way of NEA. It's open to children between kindergarten and the sixth grade. Cline says if the program show success, they hope to eventually branch out to the adolescents and teenagers.

For more information about signing up, just go to http://www.betterlife.org/pages/notmyfault.htm

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