Sometimes we struggle with “good” ways to talk to children about difficult situations, especially young children who might have a difficult time expressing their “bad” feelings about a divorce and living in two homes. It is disruptive for children to develop the new “two homes system” – typically one with Dad and one with Mom. Even in the most amicable of divorces, there is a LOT for children to deal with.
My friend and colleague, Jodi Hassler, has masterfully addressed many of the concerns that children have expressed to her in play therapy – such as how to deal with:
- different beds, furniture, food at each home;
- different rules and trying to keep the rules straight while at each home;
- family members fussing about who loves them more (said in a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways);
- listening to people they love fighting about who takes care of them the best way (each parent might have a different idea about what is “best” for the children),
- the unsure feelings that result from how to manage the “new” life,
- their wish to return to “the way it used to be”;
- missing the other parent while with one parent;
- how they might have expressed their anger and frustration in destructive ways;
- missing friends that they might enjoy at one home while with the other parent;
In an ever-so-clever way, Miss Jodi points out in her book ways that children can learn to entertain themselves and self-soothe when feeling ignored or when they are uncomfortable or sad for a variety of reasons.
In the story, Chip wanders into a garden after getting in trouble for expressing his negative emotions in “bad” ways. While there, Chip gets advice from the wise Owl who helps him see various situations in a new light.
The purpose of the book is summed up best, I think, by quotes from the last page of the book: “In his dream, Chip had exchanged some of his old worrisome thoughts for those that left him feeling good about his own capabilities and his two homes. . . And off Chip went, feeling happy, excited, and ready to enjoy all the love that he received in both of his homes.”
And there is a GREAT bonus! Jodi recorded and included in the book a CD that can be played for children who can’t read – or for those who really enjoy hearing the audible version of the story while they look at the enchanting pictures of the book. What a great find for divorcing parents with young children – a way to entertain and educate the child to self-create a sense of peace. This book is wonderful for a child age 3 to about 8; it is designed to help children cope with a really difficult place – experiencing their parents’ divorce. You can find it on Amazon here.
Hope you enjoy – please let me know if you see this book helping a child!