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Friday Club Helps Children of Divorced Parents

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The Friday Club at the Douglas Alternative School in Columbus, Ohio, may sound like something a lot of students would want to join, but it's for only a select few: the children of parents whose marriages are breaking up.

"We wanted them to feel it wasn't their fault," said Kay Noble, principal of the K-5 public school. She said she formed the club in March at the urging of parents who were watching their children suffer the effects of their divorces.

The 17 children in the Friday Club met together for their lunch and recess periods each Friday through the end of the school year in June, Ms. Noble said. She hopes to continue the group in the fall, depending on the children's interest and whether she can obtain3funding for special materials and the services of outside family counselors.

Talking to Parents

In their sessions, club members discussed such issues as why people get divorced, how children can communicate their feelings to their parents, money problems, and step-families, Ms. Noble said.

The children's primary concern in confronting their parents' divorce, she added, was "'what's going to happen to me?"'

Ms. Noble, who has degrees in guidance and counseling, said she stressed to the children that both of their parents would still love them, that they would probably see both parents, "but not always," and that the children would survive the experience because each was "a real strong person," she said.

"We went over and over that until they began to process it," she added.

One 9-year-old boy said the Friday Club helped him with his parents' divorce because "before I got in the club, I though that I was causing it, and now I learned I wasn't."

"A lot of people were like that," he said, adding that he learned in part because "Miss Noble just said that, in front of everybody" during a club session.

Helps Communication

One mother whose son and daughter were in the club said the program helped the children "to talk with me more openly and more frankly."

The children's group, and a related group for parents that met Tuesday nights, have both helped all involved learn to live "from day to day, as normally as possible," she said.

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