"Divorce Is The Worst." That's the title of the book my son and his peers spent time reading in their Banana Splits club. Banana Splits is a support group in many schools around the country for children with divorced/deceased parents.
The book just as easily could have been called My Life Sucks. Fuck You Mom and Dad. Divorce is Depressing. Why I Hate Normal Families. I Don't Want 2 Homes. Shall I go on?
When I got separated three and a half years ago, one of the most important things to me was the language we shared with our kids and people in our world. I spoke to experts and here is what we came up with and even sent in an email around so others would also have positive, non-negative language.
"We have decided after very careful consideration to get divorced. We have realized that we care about each other greatly and actually really like each other -- but as friends and as parenting partners. We wanted to send you this email because over the next few weeks -- you and your kids will notice the change and see the differences. Our kids will have two homes and will split their time between each of us.
We have spoken to experts and as you and your kids discuss divorce, as it pertains to our family, we wanted you to each understand the best language to educate your children -- especially if they are all talking about it.
We have told our kids that we have decided we are no longer going to live together. We love being parents and will continue being good friends. We are still going to work as a team and as partners to parent our kids and sometimes people work better as parenting partners than as husband and wife."
No, divorce isn't like Disney. It's not a magical place kids would choose; but the language we share with them makes a difference in how they handle their roller coaster ride.
My son's school has told me that the book, Divorce Is The Worst has a humorous tone and also explores other myths associated with divorce. While I'm sure there were messages that were helpful, I can't get past the title. To my 10-year-old son, who has enough other challenges surrounding our divorce, the last thing I want for him is a book telling him that his Situation is "the worst."
The kids in the group also discussed some of the "myths" from the book about divorce. One of them being whether they felt it was their fault that their parents got divorced. My children have never asked this question. It has never crossed their mind. My own parents divorced when I was 16, and that also never crossed my mind. But bringing it up to children and putting that idea in their head, again sends such the wrong message.
The messages to children should be positive. Whether the divorce is amicable or not, children absorb what they see, what they are told. They will have their own questions, ideas and formulate their own opinions from within their experience. There is no need for anyone to feed children negativity. A book that is supposed to help them should not start off telling them their life is the worst.
There's no book titled Enjoy Your Vacation, Your Plane May Crash. If You Don't Look Both Ways Before Crossing The Street, You Will Be Hit By A Car. I Hope Your Parents Stay Healthy.
How about, Happily Divorced and Having 2 Happy Homes. Yay, I Have 2 Happy Parents. Why My Parents Chose To Be Just Friends. My Parents Live Apart and How I feel About It. Everyone's Family Is Different. Different Families, Same Family. How Divorce Can Be Like Disney.