Separation, or divorce, can be hard for everyone involved. It can be particularly difficult for children who may not understand why Mum and Dad are parting ways.
As adults, we’re more easily able to see the big picture, and know where fault lies. But for children, this is much harder, and they can blame themselves for what’s happening with their family, as they try to understand it.
To your child, the partnership of parenthood is the centre of their world, and it is hard to explain why that relationship needs to end. You have to make sure, for example, that you avoid feelings of bitterness and hurt, which can be damaging to your kids. As parents, we have to remain focused on, and sensitive to the children’s needs and well-being through this transitional period.
When parents separate or divorce, children may end up thinking “if they were ‘better’, Mum and Dad wouldn’t break up” or “if they weren’t there, things would work out”. They may also feel angry at both or just one of the parents – wanting to put the blame on someone. There may be feelings of worry that the absent parent will forget them, or that the parent they are now living with will leave them as well. It really can be very stressful for a child to process and know what is happening and what the future may bring for them.
While we try to keep the open conflict away from the children’s presence they can pick up on the tension and change in energy in the home and between the parents. It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that the children know they are loved and that they are safe. In times when we think we as adults just can’t take anymore, we need to remember there are little minds who are scared and need our guidance and support.
There are several books available to help children dealing with separation and divorce that may help them to understand their emotions and the new, unfamiliar situation they are facing. Here are ten books about divorce for children to understand what’s going on!
1. It’s Just Different Now (By Linda Espie)
‘Its Just Different Now’ uses a story format to help young children whose parents may have separated or are going through a divorce. It deals with feelings of grief and loss. This book is a fantastic tool that includes notes for parent and teachers.
2. The Suitcase Kid (By Jacqueline Wilson)
A children’s book about a young girl whose parents split up suddenly. Her world changes and she now spends one week with Mum, her new partner and his children and one week with Dad and his new partner and her children. All Andrea (the young girl) wants is just to go home.
3. Two of Everything (By Babette Cole)
Demetrius and Paula are really good kids but they have parents who do nothing but bicker and argue. Feeling sad and confused that this is all their fault, this book goes through their emotions and creates the feeling of “you’re not the only ones going through this.”
4. Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide For Changing Families (By Laurene Brown and Marc Brown)
This book goes through A-Z of situations and scenarios that may present themselves when parents are going through a separation or divorce. Using an empathetic style, Dinosaurs Divorce allows children to relate to similar problems and help find solutions or at least a sense of not being alone in this situation. Great guide for both parents and children alike.
5. Daddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (By Bernice Boesehold)
When Casey’s parents get a divorce, she is left wondering if it’s all her fault and tries to work out plans to get them back together.