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Divorce Parties: Progressive or in Poor Taste?

Just when you thought you'd heard it all, couples who have decided to end their marriages are spawning a new trend: divorce parties. These celebrations range from amicable fetes, planned and attended by both halves of the couple, to spouse-bashing soirees that feature armed-bride cakes.

While the idea of a wedding in reverse may seem funny, you also have to wonder how the children involved feel as their parents celebrate the dissolution of the family.

Interestingly, MSN reported on the trend and interviewed one parent who not only eagerly embraced the concept of toasting the end of his marriage, but also felt he was helping his kids move forward in a healthy way. Texas dad Steve Wolf says, "We wanted to do something that expressed the fact that we were doing the divorce not so much as an end of our relationship but as us moving into things like co-parenting."

In fact, a common theme among the newly single revelers was that these celebrations are focused on turning a negative into a positive. So, instead of grieving the end of a marriage, they suggest embracing it.

Certainly, this is a noble thought, but Miranda Goodman-Wilson, an assistant professor of psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., who has studied attachment issues in infants and children, cautions that a party like this may trivialize what is often a very traumatic experience for children.

"There is definitely empirical evidence that divorce, even under the best of circumstances, is experienced as a stressful event for children as it is occurring. A celebration, even tastefully done, might feel disrespectful to the child's perspective and the real loss that they are experiencing," Goodman-Wilson says.

She cautions that parents should be especially mindful of how they speak about or represent their spouses during these parties. "Attempts by one parent to criticize or estrange the child from the other parent would generally be harmful," Goodman-Wilson says.

Of course, how divorced couples interact and co-parent will have the biggest impact on the well-being of their kids, party or no party. "The quality of parents' relationship, even after the divorce has taken place, is going to be a predictor of the child's successful adaptation," Goodman-Wilson says.

So what do you think? Are these end-of-marriage bashes progressive or in poor taste?

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