Divorce and Children/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on October 14, 2012

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I recently found an article written by Rosalind Sedacca that can be found at Chabad.org regarding 5 things to tell children about divorce.

The five items are:

This is not your fault/Mom and dad will always be your parents/This is about change not blame/Things will work out OK/Mom and Dad will always love you.

I subscribe fully to the premise that children need re-assurance and messages of love. The fact that Mom and Dad will always be the parents is why amicable divorce is so important. Contested divorces have a way of pulling children into private battles.  I therefore give full approval to 3 of the 5 items mentioned. I have some reservation about the remaining two items and will explain why this is so.

THIS IS ABOUT CHANGE NOT ABOUT BLAME

I do not know how this will sound to your child, but I worry about platitudes and easy assurances. Change is feared by many adults; moreso by children. If divorce is about change, how do we let the child know that the change will work out fine. The phrase that appears above might be more frightening than a simple reminder: We will work on the changes that life will bring together. I believe this is undoubtedly true in virtually all cases and is intellectually honest and emotionally cogent.  Say what comes from the heart in this regard and you will be helpful.

THINGS WILL WORK OUT OK

This becomes a matter of taste. Since we do not know the future, these words may raise false hopes. In addition, losing quality time with one parent, due to divorce, is probably not OK. Why not engage the child. Ask them what they fear about the future and address each issue honestly and constructively. Let your children talk and then react as an adult. This is what our children likely expect and need.

The article, though written a while ago, raises some interesting points. The full article is found at:

http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/799363/jewish/Five-Things-To-Tell-The-Kids.htm

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