Laurie separated from her ex when her daughter Sammy was two and a half years old. When Sammy, at the age of ten, saw Laurie working on her website, Laurie asked her if she had anything she wanted to share with parents who are divorcing. Here’s what Sammy wanted to share, almost word for word. Laurie’s comments are in parentheses.
- Make sure that the children know the divorce is not their fault and that everything will be okay.
- Help them to know all the good things about having two homes, like having two New Year’s celebrations, two birthday celebrations, Santa comes to both homes, and a chance to make more friends.
- Let them bring something of their choice from each parent’s house to each home to remind them of their parents. (Sammy liked bringing about 50 stuffed animals back and forth. Difficult to pack, but that was okay, they gave her security.)
- Parents also need to tell their kids that they will get used to the situation. Sammy recommends a calendar for the children to look at so that they can see when they will be at each parent’s house.
- It is important for the parents to let their children talk to the other parent when the children ask.
- Books (on divorce) are good. (Sammy really liked the book, “It’s Not Your Fault KoKo Bear.” The book is by Vicki Lansky. Laurie liked it as well because the book started some great conversations between her and Sammy.)
- Neither parent should say anything negative about the other parent. And if you’re going to fight, don’t let the kids hear, it can hurt the kids, it makes them feel caught in the middle.
- Parents sitting together at school and sporting functions is a good thing! (They don’t have to like each other. It’s good for the kids to know that their parents are willing to sit together for their sake.)
- It’s also important for the parents to spend one-on-one time with their kids roughhousing, playing games, or just talking for fun so that the kids feel comfortable talking to them.
At the age of ten, Sammy is obviously not a mental health expert, but she is a happy girl, she does well in school, and she believes in herself. Children of divorce can be just fine when parents focus on the best interests of their children. Mediation and collaborative divorce will help you make it happen.