Separated couple consider reconciliation for child's sake

Parent Q&A

August 09, 1998|By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. | T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q. My daughter is 3, and my husband and I have been separated for about two years. We are thinking about getting back together but want to wait until we are certain, so as not to disrupt all our lives.

Do you think it is advisable for a couple to remain married for the sake of a child? Is it more painful for a child to see her parents in a loveless marriage or for them to be divorced?

A. My advice is to go slowly. Losing half her family all over again could be very difficult for your daughter.

I can't answer your second question without saying that each family is different. Living in a family that is full of hate and anger would be destructive to any child. However, if you and your husband could bury the hatchet and put the 3-year-old first, she could profit from it.

Dr. Judith Wallerstein, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco, studies divorce and its effect on children. She says something you might want to consider: All marriages are made up of three participants - the husband, the wife and the marriage. You need to be committed to the third to make it work.

If you are not willing to be committed to the marriage, you'd better get advice from someone who knows you both. Your commitment to your child is important in any case. Children need two adults who are passionately in love with them.

Q. I am a speech/language pathologist and am writing with regard to the letter in your column concerning delayed speech and language development of a 4-year-old boy.

Your advice to parents who suspect their child may be exhibiting delayed speech/language development was to seek the nearest early-intervention project. This is solid advice. However, you should also have noted that federal law requires a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) for all children ages 3 to 21. This means that not only are the speech/language diagnostic services available and free through the public schools in this country, but the therapy services are also free.

A. Thank you for this important information. We must all fight to protect these funds from congressional cuts by politicians who don't understand how devastating - both emotionally and financially - a delayed child can be. Their families need and deserve our help.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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