I explained divorce to my children two years ago when the concept was new and am constantly reinforcing the same messages:
1. Divorce is never the childrens’ fault.
2. Mommy and Daddy wanted you to have two happy homes instead of one unhappy home.
3. Even though a marriage can end a parent’s love for their children never does. We will love you forever and ever, no matter what.
But when I was recently sent a book called “Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children” by clinical psychologist Dr. Azmaira H. Maker, I thought it was worth reading to my kids.
This storybook has a cute bunny on the cover, and, boys being boys, I wasn’t sure how my kids would respond when I read it to them on a recent rainy afternoon. I was prepared for, “This book is for babies,” or “Boring!” but instead, I got a completely different response. They sat and listened to Zoey the bunny’s worries about her parents’ separation. She kept getting tummy aches and felt sad about having two homes. Zoey’s parents help her work through this difficult time, until at the end of the book, the bunny seems to understand the changes in her life.
The last page of the book offers a list of questions, or discussion points, parents can use to talk to their kids about divorce. I attempted the questions with my boys and we ended up having a really nice and unexpected discussion about things like:
What does divorce mean? Is divorce forever? Why do parents sometimes get separated/divorced? Is it my job to make my parents live together? How do I feel about moving between and living in two homes?
I constantly worry about the effect of my divorce on my children. Research shows that it can produce short and long-term effects, like depression, anxiety and anger to name only a few. At the same time, says Dr. Maker, “How you divorce and how you work with your child through it can make an enormous difference in the outcome.”
Available online and at major booksellers, I would highly recommend this book to divorced parents with young children… even boys.