Emotionally Healthy Divorce in 5 Easy Steps

The 5 Critical Emotional Needs in How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is the foundation to help create an emotionally healthy divorce instead of an experience that can be extremely difficult for the entire family. In this article, Nicole Witt explains Dr. Newmark’s 5 Critical Emotional Needs that need to be met to maintain healthy relationships, including healthy post-divorce relationships.Emotionally Healthy Divorce

It is so important for our children’s emotional health that the parents, whether together or not, maintain a peaceful and respectful relationship. Granted, it is always harder to achieve when the split– and the hurt–is fresh, but you can work toward a harmonious family life — even after divorce!

Nicole writes:

Today, I am going to talk about the 5 critical emotional needs that every person needs to have fulfilled in order to have productive and peaceful relationships. In his book How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too! Updated Edition,

Gerald Newmark, Ph.D discusses these 5 emotional needs in relation to children, but as we are all just grown-up children, they can apply to adults as well and to any relationship.

When going through a divorce it is important to keep these needs of yourself, your ex, and your children in mind in order to have as peaceful an experience as possible.

1. The Need to Feel Respected

Respect is a word we throw around a lot.  But if you ask someone to define what respect is, they may have a hard time coming up with a black and white definition.  We tend to think of it as a “I’ll know it when I feel it” kind of thing.  And we definitely know when we feel disrespected by others…Read More

About Nicole Witt, from her website:

My name is Nicole Witt and I am a Mediator and Conflict Resolution Specialist in Los Angeles, California.  In 2004, I went through my own high conflict divorce.  Things were so bad that one night during a phone conversation with my ex, the amount of tears I was crying actually fried my cell phone!  Now – 8 years later – my ex, my son, my new husband, and myself actually find ourselves sitting down to dinner together fairly often for special events and after football games.  It still amazes me that we have been able to come this far.

That is why I started this website – so you can be amazed too.

Order How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children from Amazon.com


WHAT IS CONFLICT? (or “What’s REALLY going on here?”)


Written by Nicole Witt for The Children’s Project

What is conflict? The simple answer is that conflict arises when there is a difference of opinion. However, people can “agree to disagree” without any negative conflict arising, so it must be something more than that.

I would venture to say that 90% of all conflicts are due to one or more parties feeling that their needs are not being met or are being violated in some way. Yes, on the surface the conflict may be about money or property or some other material object, but if we are willing to go deeper and take the time to peel back the layers, there is usually more going on.

Dr. Gerald Newmark, Ph.D in his book How to Raise Emotionally Heathly Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents too!, lists the 5 critical emotional needs of children as the need to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure. Dr. Newmark suggests that in reality we all have these needs even as adults and I would have to agree.

In digging into a conflict and getting beyond the parties “positions” and into what is really driving them (their interests) in almost all cases you will discover that at least one party feels disrespected, not important, unaccepted, not included, and/or not secure (scared) in some way. Once you get to this “heart” of the conflict you can not only begin to resolve the conflict at hand but hopefully bring about a change in the underlying relationship. At the very least, the parties should walk away from the mediation feeling better about the situation than when they walked in.

So how might the lack of having these needs met in an interaction end up in conflict and how do they present themselves in the process of mediation? One of the most common complaints you will hear in the course of a party telling their story is that the other side disrespected them. What does this mean exactly? Dr. Newmark defines disrespect as treating others in an uncivil manner or with rudeness. In addition, lying is also seen as disrespectful. Disrespect is often in the “eye of the beholder” meaning that what one perceives as disrespectful behavior may, in fact, just be thoughtlessness or distracted behavior on the part of the other person. The problem arises when the aggrieved party takes such behavior personally as an affront against them. The interesting thing about someone’s perceived lack of respect is that it tends to elicit a response that is out of proportion to the actual incident as discussed by Rick Garlikov in Disrespect and Disproportional Retaliation (www.garlikov.com). Road rage is one such example.

A party might feel that they are not being accepted when their opinions or ideas are met with ridicule or are simply ignored or they may feel left out or not included when they are not involved in making important decisions. This can lead them to push in a negative way to have their voice heard. This also coincides with feeling unimportant. We have all heard that children act out when they feel ignored because even negative attention is better than none. Often times this behavior can carry over into adulthood as well.

Feeling insecure can manifest in many ways that are common when discussing the cause of a dispute. Safety is a big one. People can be afraid for their physical safety as well as that of their family (as seen in Civil Harassment type cases) or in many cases involving monetary issues, they can be afraid of not having enough financial security in the future and this drives them to push a conflict forward.

So, as mediators we can use our awareness of these issues not only to make sure that the actual mediation takes place in a respectful, inclusive, and secure manner where everyone feels important and accepted, but we can also keep these 5 Critical Needs in mind when exploring what brought the parties to mediation in the first place and how they can now solve their conflict and go forward with their relationships in the future.

About Nicole Witt
Nicole is a Mediator, Conflict Resolution Coach, and founder of SerenityAfterDivorce.com where she aims to bring peace to divorced families. To find out the biggest mistakes women make after a divorce, grab her free special report. To find out more about mediation, please visit take5forpeacemediation.com

About The Children’s Project
The Children’s Project (TCP) started with a book: How To Raise Emotionally Children, then added a program, followed by a project and now has become a movement. It is dedicated to awakening American consciousness as to how failure to meet critical emotional needs of children, and adults too, is a root cause of our recurring crises in schools, families, communities, businesses and society at large. Resources and training provided by TCP has enabled a wide variety of populations, from all walks of life and ethnic groups, to have their emotional needs satisfied. The result is more persons growing up, living and working in emotionally healthy environments – at the same time developing persons who are more likely to become independent, reliable, self-confident, thinking, civic-minded and caring individuals.

For more information about The Children’s Project go to: www.emotionallyhealthychildren.org

Order How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children in English or Spanish and learn more about the 5 Critical Emotional Needs

FREE Webinar with parenting experts! February 7th, 1pm EST


UPDATE 2/8: Were you unable to join us for our How to Raise Emotionally Healthy ChildrenWebinar? No problem! It was recorded and is available for you to view online at your convenience!


How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
Presented by Dr. Gerald Newmark, Jody Martin, and Kathleen Pickering, IBCLC
February 7, 2013 • 1:00 pm (EST) / 11:00 am (MST)
(brought to you by InJoy Birth and Parenting Education


Do you work with families of young children? Want to learn how you can provide them with a blueprint for better parenting? Join us for an exciting webinar that will feature the research of Gerald Newmark, PhD, author of the acclaimed book, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”.

This one-hour webinar will guide you through the five emotional needs – to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure. Our panelists will discuss common challenges and show you how to help parents modify their interactions to meet the emotional needs of their young children. You’ll also learn why it’s important for parents to maintain their own emotional health. Read more and REGISTER!

Emotionally Healthy Schools, Emotionally Healthy Cities

Babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, parents and grandparents all have the same emotional needs. Meeting these needs in childhood provides the foundation for success in school, work, relationships, marriage and life in general. Failure to meet the emotional needs of our children is one of the most serious and under-recognized problems facing our country.

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children, a parenting guide by Gerald Newmark, PhD, shows parents and teachers how to nourish emotional health at home and at school. This book enables parents to recognize and satisfy the critical emotional needs that all children have: to feel respected, to feel important, to feel accepted, to feel included, and to feel secure and, in the process, parents will have their own needs satisfied too.

Through a program called the Salinas Project, the book will now be incorporated into the curriculum of all 12 schools in the Salinas City Elementary School district and given to any interested parent for free. This is part of a larger plan to encompass the entire citizenry of Salinas, including all segments of society: business, education, civic, social, and medical organizations, and the at-risk and gang communities. Through such an effort, emotional health can be sown into the fabric of daily living in Salinas.

The Salinas Project – Emotionally Healthy Cities  (A 9-minute video of Dr. Newmark speaking to residents of Salinas, CA)

(This article originally appeared on CASP’s For Our Future / Para Nuestro Futuro website)

Our book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook in both English and Spanish.