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Children's picture books to help with separation? (Long distance visitation advice needed!!)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi, I need some help, and I'll cross-post this in Single Parenting.  I just thought some of you may know some great books, and I'm in DIRE need!!

 

To make a long story short, I moved about 300miles from my ds's dad.  We've been separated for ages, but I just moved a month ago.  My DS (he turns 3yo in January) is having a hard time.  Not with being here, where we live now, but with visits.

 

Right now, visitation is 1 weekend/month, PLUS one week/month.  The weekend is in a small town that my ex claims is nearby where I live, but really its a 2hour drive.  The week long visit is at my ex's home.  I'm not super happy with the visitation, but thats another topic altogether.

 

The problem is, my ds misses me terribly when he's at Ex's for the week long visit.  He's only ever been away from me for that long a few times before now, and its only been one cycle of visitation since we moved.

 

I'm looking for children's books about kids whose parents live in different cities.  Ideal would be if the book was about a toddler, but really anything will do so long as it is a picture book.

 

Or, something about how to talk to a very young child about stuff like this - even advice would be good. 

 

I know that moving was the best thing for us, since I did not have a job where we were before, and now I have my dream job, AND I have family support that is helping us out a TON. 

 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

post #2 of 11
my exh is in the army, and currently hes in colorado. we're in texas. since hes been there, hes been seeing ds about 2x a year, which sucks for ds. when he was in louisiana, he would generally do his visitation at his gfs families place, which is in texas as well, and we'd meet halfway between here and there. im letting him do longer visits, while we can before ds starts school, since neither one of us can afford to get him to colorado once a month...

lets see, he saw ds right before he moved to colorado in i think june of 2010, for about a week. then he asked to extend his christmas visit, so he was in colorado for about a month. he deployed in february, got back in june, and saw ds for a week or so while he was on leave in july. he'll see him again just after christmas, and we're planning on it being another long visit.

its really hard on ds. he enjoys spending time with his daddy, but that month was tough. hed never been away from me for anywhere near that long before. he missed me a lot, and kept asking me to come there with him. he had just turned 3 in october. this last visit was really bed, because he was used to calling at least every couple of days, if not every day, and we obviously couldnt do that while he was gone. he went through a phase when he got back of absolutely refusing to talk to him on the phone. im talking all out kicking screaming tantrums. its gotten a little better, but it still takes persuading to get him on the phone. ive actually got him an appointment with a counselor in a couple of weeks to see if it helps. he says its because hes angry and misses daddy.

i think he feels conflicted- when hes with daddy, he misses me, and when hes here, he misses daddy. we separated when he was one, and i moved just before he turned 2, so he doesnt really know any different (which breaks my heart, but thats another story, lol). i just try to help him talk through it, and let him know its ok to miss whoever, that we both love him and miss him too.

sorry, its so long, i got to rambling, lol, but i hope at least some of it helps smile.gif
post #3 of 11

I'll try to get back to this when I have more time. But I wanted to mention the children's book Two Homes by Claire Masurel, which we love. It is VERY child friendly, addresses parents living in two houses, isn't slanted pro-mom or pro-dad, doesn't talk about divorce specifically, and overall just has a very comforting feel to it. It basically is a young child talking about the things that are alike at both homes, and the pictures depict them being different as well (like he has a bedroom at mom's and a bedroom at dad's, but in the pictures you can see the bedrooms look different). Our kids have all loved it-- my step-daughter liked that it speaks to her experience, and my other kids get an age-appropriate understanding of their older sister's situation. It is by far our favorite.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleyhaugh View Post


i think he feels conflicted- when hes with daddy, he misses me, and when hes here, he misses daddy. we separated when he was one, and i moved just before he turned 2, so he doesnt really know any different (which breaks my heart, but thats another story, lol). i just try to help him talk through it, and let him know its ok to miss whoever, that we both love him and miss him too.
 


Yeah, I think this is part of my DS's problem too.  He loves his dad, but he doesn't want to be away from me.  My ex and I also split when DS was super young (he was 10mo), so he doesn't remember us living together, which I honestly prefer.  Especially since his dad was abusive towards me.

 

aricha - thanks for that book recommendation!!  Right after I read this my mom called and told me she was buying that same book for DS!  She's a librarian, so she found it at work, lol. 

 

DS LOVES books, so I'm hoping this helps.

post #5 of 11

http://www.best-childrens-books.com/childrens-books-about-divorce.html

 

I just did a quick google search. Maybe some of these will work. Good luck and congrats on the dream job! A happy Momma means a happy little boy to be sure. ;)

post #6 of 11

Regular phone contact and video chats have been a huge help for my step-daughter. They are so much better with little ones than a phone call. If it is possible to have even a quick check-in every day by phone and a couple times a week by video chat, it can be really helpful. Some ideas for video chat are reading a favorite book, sending them soemthing in the mail and having them open it on the video chat, playing little games via video chat (like with little people or animals or a favorite doll), or even just chatting while they draw you a picture or build with blocks or legos or eating a snack. It just helps them feel that connection to the parent they are away from.

 

A family photo album can be really helpful. My step-daughter has always cherished her photo album with her entire family in it, and has found a lot of comfort in that. It is also something she could access herself even as a very young child.

 

Mail can be great, too. We often send a short note ("I love you! xoxox"), stickers, a photo with a little note ("remember when we went on this bike ride? It was so fun!), a coloring page... I mail something to my step-daughter almost every day, and I start mailing them before she leaves us so there is something waiting when she arrives.

 

Again, not a ton of time to respond as thoughtfully as I would like, but hopefully a couple of these will be helpful ideas. 

post #7 of 11
oh, another thing that helps is exh took pictures of each page of some of ds's favorite books (including a couple that he bought) so that he can read them over the phone to him at bedtime... although just buying another copy would work too, lol...

and when he was deployed, the uso had a program where the soldier could tape themselves reading a book, then they attached the dvd to the book so the kid could watch it at home. he loves his daddy movies.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post

Regular phone contact and video chats have been a huge help for my step-daughter. They are so much better with little ones than a phone call. If it is possible to have even a quick check-in every day by phone and a couple times a week by video chat, it can be really helpful. Some ideas for video chat are reading a favorite book, sending them soemthing in the mail and having them open it on the video chat, playing little games via video chat (like with little people or animals or a favorite doll), or even just chatting while they draw you a picture or build with blocks or legos or eating a snack. It just helps them feel that connection to the parent they are away from.

 

A family photo album can be really helpful. My step-daughter has always cherished her photo album with her entire family in it, and has found a lot of comfort in that. It is also something she could access herself even as a very young child.

 

Mail can be great, too. We often send a short note ("I love you! xoxox"), stickers, a photo with a little note ("remember when we went on this bike ride? It was so fun!), a coloring page... I mail something to my step-daughter almost every day, and I start mailing them before she leaves us so there is something waiting when she arrives.

 

Again, not a ton of time to respond as thoughtfully as I would like, but hopefully a couple of these will be helpful ideas. 


These are awesome!  I love the mail idea, I'll have to get some mail ready for the next time he goes to his dad's house - he would love getting letters. 

 

I need to make another photo album, my ex did one about a year ago, and it was great while it lasted (it was flimsy, and well, toddlers aren't known for being gentle).  I'll have to do another one.  I'm also planning to ask his dad to frame a picture for me to put in ds's room of both of them.  I'm just worried he might send me like a freaking poster, when I think a smaller picture would be more appropriate (right now DS and I share a room, so I would like something small for ds's dresser or something - like a 5x7).

 

DS does do Skype a few times a week, but he doesn't have a long attention span, so it doesn't last very long.  He did ask to call his dad the other night, so that was a good thing I think. 

 

I'm going to the bookstore this weekend too - any advice for books I should read to help me talk to DS about whats going on?  I just don't know what to say to make this easier.

 

The book idea is one that I like, but my ex won't do it.  It's annoying.

 

post #9 of 11

Look around for photo albums for babies. They're super sturdy and easy to change the pics. My boys loved ours well into becoming big kids (and actually have fun looking through them even now =) )

post #10 of 11

Next time you see Dad, bring the camera and say "I want to put a picture of the two of you in his room, can you guys pose for one real quick?" Then you can decide on the size. 

 

The best advice I ever got for talking with kids about things that are hard is to remember that it is okay (good, even) to validate negative feelings without immediately counteracting it with something positive. So, when he is upset because he wants to talk to dad and dad isn't answering the phone, it's okay to just say "You really want to talk to dad right now and you are really sad that you can't talk to him on the phone. I feel sad when I miss someone and can't talk to them, too." Our tendency is to follow that with "BUT... you will see him this weekend" or "BUT... we will try again tomorrow." My friend (a therapist) told me that BUT statement tells them they shouldn't feel sad. It's okay to just acknowledge "yeah, this stinks, and I'm sorry it stinks." Once he's had a chance to grapple with those sad feelings and know that you are there to support him and that it is okay to feel that way, you can help him think of some solutions.... "Should we try to call again later?" or "Do you want to build with blocks and see if he calls back in a little bit?" or "Do you want to draw him a picture and we can put it in the mail?" or "Should we go find your picture book and you can tell me about something fun you did last time you saw him?"

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post

Next time you see Dad, bring the camera and say "I want to put a picture of the two of you in his room, can you guys pose for one real quick?" Then you can decide on the size. 

 

The best advice I ever got for talking with kids about things that are hard is to remember that it is okay (good, even) to validate negative feelings without immediately counteracting it with something positive. So, when he is upset because he wants to talk to dad and dad isn't answering the phone, it's okay to just say "You really want to talk to dad right now and you are really sad that you can't talk to him on the phone. I feel sad when I miss someone and can't talk to them, too." Our tendency is to follow that with "BUT... you will see him this weekend" or "BUT... we will try again tomorrow." My friend (a therapist) told me that BUT statement tells them they shouldn't feel sad. It's okay to just acknowledge "yeah, this stinks, and I'm sorry it stinks." Once he's had a chance to grapple with those sad feelings and know that you are there to support him and that it is okay to feel that way, you can help him think of some solutions.... "Should we try to call again later?" or "Do you want to build with blocks and see if he calls back in a little bit?" or "Do you want to draw him a picture and we can put it in the mail?" or "Should we go find your picture book and you can tell me about something fun you did last time you saw him?"


Picture problem solved!!  YAY for Home Depot!!  My ex took DS to Home Depot this weekend for the Kids Corner event (which is the 1st weekend of every month - my ex's weekend), and made a picture frame!  So he's going to send a picture for me to put in it, and its a 4x6 so its perfect. 

 

And I also like the second paragraph - I'm getting better about just validating his feelings, but its so hard sometimes when he's so sad.  Not that its totally new, he did it sometimes when we were still living close by his dad, but I'm getting better.  We're also going to start sending mail to his dad, and hopefully his dad will start sending him some (I asked him to today, and he said he was thinking about doing that - so we'll see!)

 

AND - the book was a BIG hit!  I think that will be a great thing to read with him on a regular basis.

 

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