How mom and dad break the news of a divorce to a 3-year-old must and should be different from that of an 11-year-old.
Two considerate parents sat a preschooler down to tell him about their upcoming divorce. With a lot of gentleness and love, they slowly told the little boy that mommy and daddy would stop living together and live in separate houses, but he would continue seeing both of them. In their minds, and honestly, they had done the most critical part of it all – affirming to the kid that they still loved him.
When the two parents asked the boy if he had any questions, he remained silent for a minute and asked, “Who is going to take care of me?”
– California psychologist, mediator, and author Joan B. Kelly
Adults and children have different understandings of divorce. While you may give your child the right information without overwhelming him or her, you might fail to put across an essential point that seems so obvious to you but not obvious to your child.
Adults can view divorce as the complex, multidimensional scenario that it is. But children don’t appreciate these big picture reassurances and will tend to view things in concrete terms. Little wonder your child can ask you questions like, “Where will our dog stay?”
What Children’s Books Talk About Divorce?
There are several children’s books that talk about divorce. Some of them are direct and talk about the divorce itself, while others have hidden the divorce message inside a story. Some of these stories tell the kids about life after divorce, like moving away, adapting to new families, and talking about it. Such books can provide healing and help kids find the words to talk about their feelings about separation and divorce.
What Preschool Children’s Books Talk About Divorce?
My Two Homes – Claudia Harrington and Zoe Persico
A friend follows his schoolmate home for a school project only to discover that she actually has two homes and has a great relationship with her father, mother, and stepfather. The story is optimistic and tries to show that post-divorce life can even be fun and normal.
The Ring Bearer – Floyd Cooper
This is a beautiful story of two different families coming together. Jackson’s mom is getting married and he now has a new sister in this unique family setting.
Emily’s Blue Period – Cathleen and Lisa Brown
This is an excellent book that depicts a divorced family. She expresses her family’s situation through art as she loves to paint.
Lou Caribou: Weekdays with Mom, Weekend with Dad – Marie-Sabine Roger and Nathalie Choux
Many children going through a divorce will find this book relatable. Lou keeps track of time to determine when next he will be seeing the other parent. However, this will fit older kids as it is a bit detailed.
Always Mom, Forever Dad – Joana Rowland and Penny Weber
This story tells the sentiments of well-adjusted children and how they cope with the different situations in each family. It tries to show that this can happen to anyone and tries to normalize divorce.
The Enormous Suitcase – Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
This picture book is a comical tale on a difficult topic. It narrates the story of young Kelsey, who keeps moving from her mom’s to dad’s house. Quite a spirited girl.
Fred Stays with Me – Nancy Coffelt
This is s troy of a girl who moves between homes and her dog Fred follows her wherever she goes, thus giving her a sense of stability and companionship that she so needs. Her parents don’t see Fred’s role, but she stands her ground and insists on staying with Fred.
A Family is a Family is a family – Sara O’Leary
A teacher asks a class with diverse students what a family is. They all give a different description of a family as some live with a mom and dad, others with their grandparents; other families have divorced parents. Other families have disabled parents, while others are LGBTQ and foster families.
What Age 6-10 Books Talk about Divorce?
Weekends with Max and His Dad; Road Trip with Max and His Mom
A lovely story of a boy called Max, who enjoys spending time with his dad. While the story doesn’t rub it in, it is evident that his parents are separated and the story takes the reader on a journey with Max as he tries to learn that his dad’s home is also his home. In the second book, Road Trip with Max and His Mom, Max goes on a trip with his mom with an assurance that his dad will be okay.
Amber Brown is Green with Envy – Paula Danziger
Amber’s parents are divorced in this book series. But Amber is now becoming envious of her friends who don’t seem to be having any family problems. Her mom is getting remarried and her dad is going out for dates. This book speaks a lot about preteen troubles.
What Middle-Grade Books Talk About Divorce? 8-13 Years
The Great Treehouse War – Lisa Graff
When Winnie’s parents divorced, they decided that Winnie would stay with each parent three days of the week and the remaining day at a treehouse located between the two houses. But Winnie is done with her parents’ ridiculous behaviors and decides to stay at the treehouse full-time until her parents act reasonably. Soon, other kids join her in this war.
Things That Surprise You – Jennifer Maschari
A sad and sweet story of divorce, eating disorders, and adjusting to the new normal. Emily doesn’t welcome the change in her life, but it is happening regardless. On top of it all, her best friend is making new friends and is now paying more attention to boys. Could it get any worse for Emily? This book will help a child open up communication on the subject of separation and divorce.
Bigger Than a Bread Box – Laurel Snyder
A fantasy novel of a girl with a rough patch adjusting to her parents’ separation and living in a new state with her grandma. She finds a magical breadbox that gives anything one wishes for, and things don’t seem so difficult anymore. A great novel handling big themes.
You Go First – Erin Entrada Kelly
Kelly has created a hopeful novel about two kids struggling with family complications but finds companionship and solace in each other.
Blended – Sharon Draper
Isabella is facing an identity crisis as she comes from a mixed-race family, and people often comment about it. But now her parents are splitting, and it can only get worse.
Dear Sweet Pea – Julie Murphy
Sweet Pea’s parents have separated, but they live next to each other to co-parent efficiently. In the middle of this transition, Sweet Pea finds a new job with her neighbor. A heartwarming story.
How Can My Child Survive the Split?
Research shows that three factors are needed to ensure a child of any age adjusts post-divorce; a strong relationship with both parents, good parenting, and reduced child exposure to conflict.
How to Nurture the Relationship and Build Strong Bonds?
A child can experience the loss of one parent when one parent drifts out of the child’s life or when one parent undermines the other parent’s relationship with the child. In some instances, it is the child who withholds due to their personality and temperament.
A parent can only do his or her part by maintaining the ties with your child. If you belittle the other parent in front of your child, you’re basically devaluing the relationship between them.
How to Parent Well?
It could be challenging to be a good parent when you are grieving the loss of a relationship and busy trying to chase after marital property and other divorce-related things. In such cases, it is recommended to get counseling on keeping your issues separate from your interactions with your children.
In fact, research shows that divorced parents who attend education classes are often more confident and are better off. Your local family service agency could be having information about mediators, counselors, lawyers, etc.
How to Contain Conflict?
The best way to avoid conflict is to stop it before it even starts. You can do this to get started:
- Avoid using your kids to send messages between you and your ex-spouse.
- Limit conversations when exchanging the kids
- Respect the other parent’s time with the kids. Make sure everything is ready before a pickup
- Respect your ex-partner’s privacy. Your relationship is now different, and you don’t have to get into their personal life
- Exchange important stuff via writing. Some parents use email or a book that goes back and forth with the children – avoid inflammatory language, though.
Wishing you the best. XOXO