When parents get divorced, the children involved are often left feeling confused, torn, guilty, sad, and angry. Of course, those are natural emotions, but that doesn’t mean the children should be left to deal with them on their own. Even though the parents are grappling with their own range of emotions, it’s critical that they focus on their children to help them heal from the emotional trauma of the divorce.
When it comes to discussing difficult subjects, such as divorce, sometimes it’s hard to know what to say or where to start. The good news is that there are many resources available, including books geared toward specific age groups, to aid in starting a dialogue that will eventually lead to closure for the children. Here are three books, and a synopsis for each, that are powerful tools parents can use to help their children work through their emotions.
Written for children ages 4 – 8, Dinosaurs Divorce is a book about reassurance. This book, written by Laurence Krasny Brown and Marc Brown, affirms to the child that the divorce is not his or her fault and that everything will be okay. Another great feature of this book is that it uses bright picture graphics to reflect a range of emotions, including confusion, relief, anger, guilt, and sadness. It also shows how holidays may look from now on, it explains in simple terms what the new arrangements mean, and it touches on what will happen if dad or mom remarries.
What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce?
This book is written in an easy-to-read question and answer style, and it addresses questions such as how children can handle their feelings, how to navigate spending time with both parents, and why people get divorced. The book also touches on the fact that it’s okay and normal to feel strongly about the divorce (good or bad), and that the divorce is not the child’s fault. Written by Kent Winchester and Roberta Beyer, this book is for children ages 7 – 12.
The Divorce Helpbook for Teens
Geared toward teenagers,The Divorce Helpbook for Teens, written by Cynthia MacGregor, reassures teenagers that they are not alone in their struggle. The author gives practical advice to teenagers, including venting their emotions by writing in a journal, as well as turning to trusted friends and adults for support. In her book, Ms. MacGregor advocates for teenagers to find their own voice and decline to be a party to any unfair exploitation, such as when one parent asks the child to ‘report’ on another parent’s activities. Written in a nonjudgmental, informative and respectful tone, this book is perfect for that age when a child is too old to be treated like a ‘little kid’, but too young to navigate the trauma of divorce alone.
Even though the divorce rate in the United States is now considered to be ‘common’ (it’s at the 50% mark), that doesn’t mean it comes any easier to children. The more resources parents have to help them in guiding their children through the emotional upheaval caused by divorce, the easier it will be for the children to navigate through it.