Children whose parents are going through a divorce in Broward County, Florida have a tough time dealing with the breakdown of their family. M. Gary Neuman, a Florida psychotherapist, is the creator and founder of The Sandcastles Program, which helps South Florida families cope with the inevitable stress resulting from divorce.
Sandcastles originated in Miami-Dade County, Florida and is now mandatory for families seeking a divorce. The Judge will not enter a final divorce decree if the minor children have not participated in the Sandcastles Program. Unlike Miami-Dade County, Florida, minor children are not required to take the Sandcastles course when there parents get divorced in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Sandcastles is a three-and-a-half-hour, one time group session for children of divorce between the ages of six and seventeen. The children meet in a group where they find solace in other children who are also going through divorce in their home. For three hours the children role-play, draw pictures, write poems, compose letters to their parents, and answer questions about their experience. The last half hour includes the children's parents and focuses on improving communication between them. The Sandcastles program has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Therapists there are working on making the Sandcastles Program a priority in other states such as Washington. In Broward County, children are left out of the picture during divorce proceedings. Children should be given an opportunity to voice their stress and emotions during their parent's divorce. It is quite obvious that the children are hurting. In a recent divorce, there was a distressed elementary school child whose parents are currently going through a divorce. This child, while participating in the Sandcastles Program, was asked to draw a picture of his feelings. He drew a handgun with the caption "I wish I could kill my problems."
Making programs such as The Sandcastles Program a priority for families struggling through a divorce gives the children a voice and an avenue to be heard.