The Holiday season is here. We’re in the thick of it and along with all the shopping, the travel, the family get-togethers and the festivities, there are couples who are resolutely keeping the lid on their decision to divorce because they don’t want to spoil the Holidays for their children.
That’s just one example of the many ways parents do their best to put the interests of their children first when making divorce-related decisions. The reality is that it isn’t always possible to be intentional and deliberate around every decision and do we really have a good grasp on a child’s prospective?
This is where Professor Child‘s 45-minute video Children and Divorce comes in.
The target audience is children and what makes this so powerful and appealing is that it isn’t experts trying to talk to children but rather children who share their own personal experiences about a number of different aspects of divorce including for example, My Biggest Worry, What Has Changed, Caught In The Middle and If I Had A Magic Wand.
The children range in age from, I’m guessing about third to ninth or tenth grade. Each child shares his or her experience on the particular topic in an honest, calm and thoughtful way. While the children may be sharing intensely emotional and upsetting events, they’re talking with hindsight and aren’t caught up in the heat of the moment. This makes it less scary for other children to watch.
Professor Child recommends that children watch the Children and Divorce video with ‘a safe adult” – that could be a parent, a grandparent, a church or youth group leader. It could even be offered at a school. There’s a workbook that the adult could use to guide a discussion around each chapter. The workbook is loaded with suggestions for ways to get a child to talk about what’s going on and ways to help the child brainstorm possible solutions.
One of my favorite exercises around Caught In The Middle is to prop up a couple of stuffed animals and to pretend they are the child’s parents. The child can then practice telling them how it feels to be caught in the middle.
Another of my favorites is to get the child to imagine a perfect world and to create their own parenting schedule. What would it look like? This would give a child the basis for starting a discussion with his parent and give him a sense that he may have some control over his life.
For Children – I think this would be a great program to see and work through with other children who were also experiencing divorce. It would help validate some feelings, give them the language to talk about situations, give them some skills to self-advocate and the shared experience would reassure them that they weren’t the only ones whose parents were splitting up.
For Parents – I could absolutely see watching this on my own to get a better understanding of the potential impacts of divorce but based on my own experience, I can’t see sitting down with my ex and my child to watch this together. I don’t think a child is going to be comfortable expressing his or her feelings in this situation. I’m also a little skeptical about watching it solo with my child – again, you’d have to be super neutral and non-judgmental for your child to get comfortable opening up. Watching it solo with your child also means he isn’t going to benefit from any group interaction.
For Youth Leaders – For anyone who is involved in running youth groups this would be absolutely worth considering. As a parent, I would definitely consider enrolling my child in the program. However, again with my parent hat on, I would not want my child working through this without my knowledge – I’d want to be satisfied that the “safe adult” can talk about divorce in a neutral manner without the negative language that is often associated with divorce, is someone I can trust to be discreet with details my child shares and is competent to alert me to any issues or problems that may need professional help.
Children and Divorce Video Giveaway
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Disclosure: Professor Child provided me online access to the Children and Divorce video at no charge. I have not been otherwise compensated for this post. The opinions expressed are my own and Professor Child has had no editorial input.