Monday, January 14, 2008

Broken Homes

As a child of divorced parents, I can attest to the trauma a child can go through during this time of extreme emotion. Even if this subject isn't applicable to your family, you more than likely know families in this situation. You may be able to offer some guidance by suggesting some of these books or reviewing them yourself to be able to counsel a child of divorced or separated parents.

One particularly excellent book I have is Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown. It has the following acknowledgements in 1986: It was an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, New York Times Notable Book, School Library Journal Best Book, and Publishers Weekly Choice--The Year's Best Books.

It includes reasons why parents divorce, living with one parent, celebrating holidays, having stepparents, stepbrothers and stepsisters, and most importantly, it describes the child's feelings and needs. Suggested age 4-10 years old.

Often times young children believe their parents divorce because of something they did such as make a mess with chocolate pudding. Was It the Chocolate Pudding?: A Story for Little Kids About Divorce by Sandra Levins (2006) is a story that reaches out to children who may share similar fears and is also about a family where the mother moves out, and the children live with their father. Suggested age 3+ years old.

I Don't Want To Talk About It by Jeanie Franz Ransom is about parents who try to tell their young daughter they are getting a divorce, and the daughter explains her feelings through comparisons to animals.

"I wanted to be a fish, so that my tears could fall into the river and no one would know how much I wanted to cry."

The story not only values the feelings of the child but shows the importance of communication between parents and children. Suggested age 3+ year old.

It's Not Your Fault Koko Bear by Vicki Lansky, suggested age 4+ years old is similar to the dinosaur book in that it's a story about an animal family, but it has a lot more words. It also has helpful suggestions at the bottom of each page to help parents.

Loon Summer by Barbara Santucci, Illus. by Andrea Shine, is a book about a father and daughter who visit their summer cottage without the mother for the first time. The illustrations are intriguing, and it's a good pick for a close father and daughter.

Lastly, At Daddy's on Saturdays by Linda Walvoord Girard, suggested age 5+ years old, also has a lot of words, but it offers a deeper explanation of life for children of divorced families and the struggle children have going to two different homes to visit their parents. My parents divorced when I was about 8 years old, and this book would have been the best book for me at that age.

"Even with Trisha (the child's doll) and the children near, Katie felt alone. And her thoughts were a jumble. One minute she tried to pretend Daddy was on a little trip. He hadn't really GONE AWAY. The next minute, she didn't care how far away he was. If he wanted to leave her, she'd just erase him, like a problem from the blackboard. The next minute, she worried that Daddy would be all alone at Christmas! Most of all, she was confused that Daddy and Mommy could stop loving each other. If that could happen, Daddy could forget her, too."

Children can have many mixed emotions and don't have the ability to make sense of them. Through a lot of discussion, listening and reassurance, you can help children process their emotions and put things into perspective.


Jeff Kahl said...

Cherith, my Princess,

In addition to everything else, this blog gives me one more reason to be proud that I am your husband.

I love you unconditionally and always will.


Your Handsome Prince

Sarah Eckels said...

These look like excellent books and your reviews totally made me cry. You are right that these books would have been extremely helpful as a child. One morning in Sunday School, I had a little girl about age 6 or 7. She was talking about doing something at her daddy's house. I paused and looked in her eyes and said, "does your daddy live in a different house?" And she quietly nodded. I remember feeling like I was staring into my own eyes and feeling everything she felt inside. I said a quiet prayer for her and her family. I have never forgot that moment. Thanks for the ideas.