She heard them arguing again and pulled her pillow over her head. Her Dad had come home after she was in bed. When she was little, he read to her at bedtime and they would travel to different worlds together on the colorful pages. When they started sharing chapter books, she loved exploring the prairie with Laura and the hills with Heidi as her Dad narrated.
Story time was in the past, and tonight she heard her parents "discussing" where he had been, and more significantly, where he was going now. She heard the door slam, and as she peeked out her window she saw the taillights of his truck as he drove away from the house. The next morning, she walked from class to class, knowing her family was broken, but not knowing why. When she got home that afternoon, her Mom said that her father was not coming home. He left without saying goodbye and it would be 6 months before she saw him, again.
She remembered all the story times they had shared and wondered why he did not love her enough to stay, or take her with him. She could not talk about how she felt with her Mom because all her Mom did was cry. She felt so alone.
The reality is that many kids share her feelings and confusion. Often, talking to their parents is not an option, and while they may find comfort with their friends, family, or in therapy, there will still be those quiet bedtimes when loneliness hits hard and there are no answers, no reasons.
Fortunately, she always found comfort in books and her Mom’s lawyer gave the family several books about divorce. She was able to keep these books in her room, read them at her own pace, and realize she was not alone.
There are several books lawyers can provide for their clients’ children, who live through their parents’ divorce. The important thing is to provide information so that children know that they are not the reason their parents are getting divorced, and that even though Dad moved away, he does in fact still love them.
The issues facing teenagers are tough enough. When complicated by changing circumstances beyond their control, they can feel isolated and unsure of how to cope. A book addressing their concerns, especially one written by kids their own age, provides comfort and guidance. Some options include: "Choices: Teens Talk About What Hurts and What Helps Surviving Divorce," by Trudi Strain Trueit, and "The Divorce Helpbook for Teens," by Cynthia MacGregor. These books are written for the teen-age audience, and can be picked up, flipped through, and taken in bite-size pieces. A teen hiding in her room can find a passage that applies to the situation she is facing with that day, and advice about how to handle it.
For younger children, "Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families," by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown, is a picture book that either parent can share with their child. It starts by defining many words that are used by adults involved in the divorce process, and also provides illustrations that help explain why parents divorce and how a child's life may be different now, including new "step-families." There are also picture books like "Two Homes," by Claire Masurel, with simple sentences about parents living separately that show a young child that she is not the only one whose family has two houses.
For middle school kids, books like "What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? (A Survival Guide for Kids)," by Kent Winchester and Roberta Beyer, "Mom's House, Dad's House for Kids," by Isolina Ricci, Ph.D., and "My Parents are Divorced Too: A Book for Kids by Kids," by Melanie, Annie and Steven Ford, are good options.
There are many literature choices for children surviving their parents' divorce. The goal should be to find a book that offers support and healthy coping options, and helps a child understand that they are not alone. There also are many books that parents can read to help them find ways to talk to the children about the changes they are facing and help them decide what is appropriate to share and what is better left unsaid.
The comfort of a book, especially in circumstances that can be filled with fear, anxiety, anger and sadness, should never be overlooked. Offer a child a book, and you offer her an outlet and insights that she may not be ready to accept from others.