Storytelling and Difficult Subjects: Divorce and Separation
With more and more families breaking up with parents separating or divorcing, there is an ever increasing need to help our children understand what is going on and why, should they find themselves in the middle of one. Even if your marriage or relationship is as solid as a rock, you can bet that your child will have friends in their class whose parents’ are (or have) separating/divorcing. Children’s stories and storytelling are great tools for broaching this stressful subject even if only to explain what your child’s best friend at school is going through.
There are many concepts and subjects that can be particularly stressful and even scary to address with our kids, and some which are just a little more difficult to know how to broach with children – which can also be communicated through storytelling techniques.
Using Storytelling to Start Conversations
Some of the subjects covered in contemporary children’s stories are undoubtedly the same that parents of all eras have wrestled with. Others may be unique to contemporary culture. Either way, storytelling techniques can be used as a way to touch on the more difficult lessons children have to learn. They can give you a way to easily bring up the subject with kids and can also be a means of generating additional conversations with your kids on those hard subjects.
Don’t underestimate your kids’ ability to handle these harder subjects. It’s all in how you approach topics with them. They learn from you and the methods you use in communicating about difficult topics can strongly influence how your children respond to these kinds of subjects. Putting good children’s stories to work for you is one of the best ways to broach more uncomfortable subjects with your kids. These books have been specifically designed to help you deal with difficult topics in terms that children can easily understand.
Children’s Stories about Divorce and Separation
Divorce or separation is a difficult topic to explain to children. Kids often feel they’re at fault for parental separation. They may not understand the dynamics which go into adult relationships and may feel somehow to blame for the situation. Discussing this kind of topic with kids is hard for many parents and knowing where to begin with the subject is a huge stumbling block.
Children’s stories can be a topic starter, giving kids an easy to understand framework for other discussions outside of story time. Children’s books can also help kids not feel so alone. After all, if there’s a book about it, then other kids must be going through the same thing. Here are a few excellent books for broaching the subject of divorce with kids.
Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce by Tamara Schmitz, 2008 How does one address the question of divorce and separation with a child? How can you do it in non-threatening way and in a way that says that it’s not the child’s fault? This book helps address these issues and reassures your child that both their parents still love him or her no matter what.
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce by Vicki Lansky, 1997 Is a about a bear who doesn’t want two homes and focuses on how both parents will still be there for Koko. Not wanting two homes is a sentiment that my daughter has raised on several occasions and one thing that these books provide that is perhaps more useful than anything else is the starting point of the conversation. A chance for both parent and child to be given some easy, safe conversation points to talk around.
Staying with the common theme of children blaming themselves, Was It the Chocolate Pudding?: A Story for Little Kids about Divorceby Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo, 2006 is a really great story about just such a situation. Here, the children’s mum apparently leaves suddenly after the kids smear chocolate sauce on each other and the story concludes with them understanding that it wasn’t actually the chocolate sauce after all.
Divorce and separation are stressful times for parents and children alike and stories and books are ideal places to take a little pressure off and allow a little sharing through the metaphor and structure of a well written book. Use storytelling to get difficult conversations started and help parents explain why and help children understand that it’s not their fault and that their parents will still love them and be there for them.
As a final point, if you have slightly older (age 7 or older) children, What in World do you do when your parents divorce is highly recommended