Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
I write this article as if I am talking directly to the children whose parents are divorced. You can share these tips with children to help them handle the feelings caused by divorce.
"There is a man whom I consider as the living "granddaddy" of all child counselors in America. His name is Dr. Richard Gardner. In 1970, he wrote a book called, The Boys and Girls About Divorce. More than thirty years have passed since the book was written, but, for me it is still the best book that can help children whose parents are divorced. Listen up as I share with you the tips, the best out of the whole book.
"When something bad or sad happens, don't try to hide your feelings or pretend that nothing is wrong. It's all right to try to put your mind on to something else such as some activity, play, or reading so you're not just sitting and feeling sorry for yourself. But, if you continue to feel bad, mad or sad, tell your parents what goes on in your head all day long. Talk to your school counselor too.
"Sometimes, we think that there is nothing that anyone can do about such feelings. That's just not true. There are ways to help you with those feelings. If you keep on hiding your mad, sad or bad feelings, they won't go away just like that. They may even get worse. So, it's better to talk about them to grownups and get some ideas about how to fight those feelings.
"It's important to remember that most children feel better as time goes on and they also get used to living without the other parent. As time passes divorce hurts less and less. It helps to make friends especially with children whose parents had divorced. Let's see how much you know about your class. Do you know the names of all the children in your class whose parents divorced?
"When children stop hoping for something that won't happen, like parents getting back together, the pain starts getting better. Hoping against hope is like picking on the wound. If you want the wound to heal, you've to stop picking it. Stop trying finding ways to get parents back together again. And, remember you can't do anything about their divorce.
"It's not too smart to go on wishing for what's not going to happen. You focus on things you need to do. Your job as a kid is to focus on paying attention in the class, doing homework right, playing, making friends and doing your chores at home.
"Don't blame one parent for the divorce or for causing you painful feelings. You may be angry with them over the divorce but remember your parents might be feeling bad too because you are hurting. They didn't divorce each other to make you unhappy. They divorced because they were unhappy with each other. Never think that you caused their unhappiness. However, you may feel sorry that they are unhappy but don't make yourself too sad over it.
"One parent may try to blame and hold the other responsible for the divorce. Most of the times it's not one parent's fault. Usually, both have caused the problems in their marriage. However, sometimes, one parent's problem of drinking, violence or total carelessness might force the other person to go ahead with the divorce. But, don't take one parent's word against the other. Go by what you see they do, and not by what they say they do.
"Sometimes one parent says that the other parent doesn't love the child. The truth is that most of the time both parents love their child. Sometimes, you may wonder if your parents love you or not. The way you can tell how much a parent loves you is by noticing how much concern and sympathy he or she shows when you are sick, hurt or in trouble. You know that your parents love you because he or she takes a lot of interest in the things you are learning or working on.
"You know that your parents love you if they enjoy doing things with you every now and then. A loving parent spends time with his or her child listening, talking or explaining things. But, those parents who have little desire to do things with their child, or, when other things always come first and the child always comes last, they may not be very loving parents.
"If a parent doesn't love you, it does not mean that you are bad or you are not good enough to be loved. It just means that there is some problem with your parent that makes him unable to love his or her own child. When you want love, go to the parent who loves you. You have relatives and friends who love you. Just go to the people who love you and don't let yourself get upset thinking about people who won't.
"A lot of children of divorced parents are angry because they want their parents to get back together again. They'll stay angry as long as they keep hoping and trying to get their parents together again. In order to stop getting angry, you have to stop wanting your parents living together again.
"Sometime a parent might want the child to do something so they can all live together again. Such a parent wants a child to feel bad because he or she feels bad. It's not a child's job to fix the problems of grownups. It's the job of parents to fix the problems of their children.
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