continued "Let's say you have many members of a family living together. The father has been abusing the children. The mother wants out. She wants a divorce. But she doesn't want to go to an American therapist because she's afraid the therapist will tell the authorities about the abuse. The authorities will come to the house, and everyone will be arrested. So, they feel safer making the trip to Tijuana to see me.
"I usually see 14 to 20 children a week. I also teach. And I hold weekend workshops for families who are divorced or going through divorce. When I ask the children how they feel about their parents' divorce, the first thing they tell me is that they feel embarrassed. By the time their parents bring them to see me, the children are often withdrawn, depressed. They're having learning problems or problems with aggressive behavior. There's a lot of bed-wetting. I encourage the parents to speak to their children's teachers, to let them know what's happening in their children's lives. In Mexico, there's still shame attached to divorce. The children feel that shame, and so do their mothers. In Mexico, a divorced woman has a difficult time finding another relationship. In general, men are interested only in sexual relationships with divorced women. Families discourage their sons from marrying a woman who's divorced. Mothers say, 'She's had a marriage that ended in disaster. Don't go looking for trouble.'
"In my workshops, I try to encourage parents to be as honest as possible with the children. The important thing is that the children understand that they are not the cause of the divorce. So, I encourage the children to ask all the questions that they need, even if the questions are difficult or painful for the parents. 'Daddy, you left Mommy because you fell in love with another woman?' 'Daddy, do you ever miss me when you're at the other woman's house?' 'Daddy, did Mommy divorce you because you were beating her?' It's a very difficult process. I usually hold these workshops on Saturdays over two weekends. The questions and answers can be very tough. Sometimes the parents don't attend the second workshop.
"Marriages fail here for the usual reasons -- infidelity, abuse, drug and alcohol addiction -- but there are other reasons that are particular to Mexican culture. Often, extended families live together, and there can be tensions between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Sometimes marriages fail here because the husband's family and the wife's family just don't get along. Mexicans have a reputation for being very close to their children, for having close families, and that has its good points and its bad ones. When a child forms a very close relationship to his parents, he sometimes has difficulty establishing close relationships in the outside world...with a spouse, for example. It's almost an issue of competing loyalties. And when a very close family falls apart, it can be very hard for everyone. My job is to help the children. I can't reunite their parents, but I can try to help the children understand what has happened. I can try to help them understand that it wasn't their fault."