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Court ordered program teaches divorcing parents how to help children cope

Couples divorcing in Coldwater, Michigan, must attend a court ordered educational program to draw attention to the effects their decisions have on their children, according to the Daily Reporter.

Branch County officials are running the program, dubbed SMILE, or “start making it livable for everyone.” Parents learn about how their marital conflicts affect their offspring and how to best manage the dissolution of their marriages. Not all unions can be saved, but the community in Coldwater is hoping to minimize the impact on the littlest divorce bystanders.

In a recent column for the Huffington Post, child psychologist Joseph Nowinski explained that some key factors can help children survive the emotional impact of a divorce. While he says that divorce “represents a crisis of major proportions for children,” this life change does not have to result in depression, low self-esteem and other issues.

One way parents can spare their children a lot of pain is to resolve conflicts in a counselor’s office rather than in front of the kids. Even before a divorce occurs, relationship issues should be tackled out of view from children.

Mom flees with children violating visitation plan

A Michigan father is waiting nervously after the mother of his children has reportedly fled with their 11-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, according to WOOD News.

Wendi Carpenter of Holland, Michigan, was supposed to return the children to their father at the Holland Department of Public Safety building after a scheduled visitation during the summer. The agency was asked to help with the exchange of the children.

The news source reports that the woman is believed to have fled the state with the children, Luke and Cambria. Authorities were looking for them in a 2006 Toyota Highlander, but that vehicle was recovered in western Missouri where Carpenter has a family member living. A nationwide warrant has been issued by the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s office for custodial interference.

The father has custody of the children in Colorado, the Holland Sentinel reports.

Holland Police spokesman Captain Bob Buursma told the publication that law enforcement officials do not have any information that would lead them to believe that the children are in great danger, and Carpenter’s motivations are not known.