Dan wants Amy to play soccer with him, but Amy said, “Dan, I’m feeling sad and I don’t want to play right now. My mom and dad don’t want to live together anymore. My dad put his things into his car and left last night. I told him not to go. I was so mad when he left, but before my dad left he said he’s always going to be my daddy. I will live with my mom part of the time and my dad part of the time.”
Dan said, “Amy, my mom and dad got divorced. I live with my mom and I miss my dad. I’m so glad when he comes to see me. My mom and dad used to fight a lot, but now they don’t fight so much and I feel much better.”
Amy said, “Dan, I don’t know what will happen now. We might move away. My mommy is looking for a job. Who will take care of me?”
Dan said, “Amy, my mom works. I play at a fun place after school, then mom comes and takes me home. My dad coaches my soccer team and I see him every week.”
Amy said, “Dan, I wish my mom and dad could live together but they said they can’t. My mom and dad told me we’ll all feel better soon. They told me they both love me very much and will always take care of me. I still have my mom and dad.”
Then Amy kicked the ball way up into the sky.
A Message for Parents
This brochure has been developed specifically for young children, ages 4 to 12. We suggest that for children, ages 4, 5, 6, 7 and even 8 years old, this brochure be read to them. Afterward, they may enjoy looking at the pictures on their own. Children in third grade and up can read this brochure by themselves or with a parent.
Guidelines for Parents
For better or worse, children survive divorce, but some never recover from the emotional scars inflicted by parents who remain in conflict. These scars handicap many of them from forming deep, lasting relationships in adult life. This need not happen. The solution is cooperation. This is possible even when the marriage relationship wasn’t a good one. Cooperation creates the kind of environment in which children feel safe, satisfied and loved.
- Settling on a workable parenting plan that provides children time with both parents
- Being consistent in following the parenting plan
- Keeping ongoing contact with the children so they don’t feel rejected or abandoned
- Preparing the children beforehand for the separation whenever possible
- Reassuring children that they can still count on both parents
- Rarely canceling plans with children or rescheduling at the last minute
- Each parent establishing a home for the children with a place for their clothes, toys, etc.
- Maintaining telephone contact with the children
- Encouraging the children’s telephone access with both parents
- Having the children ready on time for the other parent
- Being home to receive the children on time
- Picking the children up and dropping them off on time
- Calling the other parent when it is necessary to be late
- Communicating openly about serious matters concerning the children
- Not using the children to get information about the other parent
- Not trying to control the other parent
- Not using the children to carry angry messages back and forth
- Not using the children to deliver child support payments
- Not arguing in front of the children
- Not speaking derogatorily about the other parent
- Not asking the children with whom they want to live
- Not pressuring or expecting the children to take sides
- Not using the children as weapons to hurt the other parent
This brochure, developed for AFCC by Florence Bienenfeld, Ph.D., M.F.T., contains excerpts from My Mom and Dad Are Getting a Divorce, a 124-page healing book about divorce for children 4 to 12, by Florence Bienenfeld, Ph.D., M.F.T., with illustrations by Art Scott, published by 1stBooks, 1-888-280-7715 or www.1stbooks.com, or through your local bookstore and www.amazon.com
© 2003 Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
All rights reserved.