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Helping children deal with divorce

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Not sure where else to post this.

My daughters are 7.5, 6 and 2.5 y.o. My Husband and I separated almost a year ago.  I filed for divorce about 1.5 months ago and about 2 weeks ago I finally got through to my husband that I actually mean it.  He flew off the handle calling me all sorts of names (I'm a whore, and gold digger etc...) all of that was in front of the 2.5 year old who wouldn't leave my side that evening.  He then stormed into the house to inform the girls that he'd be moving back to Japan soon--at bed time and right before he was about to leave. They start wailing. No answers to any of their questions prepared... After he left and I finally got them settled down and in bed he comes back in (I'd forgotten to lock the door) and tells the girls that when he's at the airport going back to Japan he's going to tell them the truth... I kicked him out, and locked the door at that point.

Last week my 7 year old started having emotional break downs at the smallest provocation. Anytime she gets upset she immediately starts screaming. Says she hates me, her sisters, my mother (we're living with my parents right now) and that no one appreciates her... I finally got her talking about what was wrong yesterday, put 2 and 2 together and realized that the break downs are divorce related.

My 2.5 year old won't go anywhere near her dad.

Does anyone have any book or helpful resource recommendations for how to deal with children's divorce trauma? I'd been doing a pretty good job of protecting them from it up till now, but I couldn't get him to stop and listen to me about how it would hurt the girls going in and telling them like that. He was too interested in making me feel bad about how I'm hurting the girls... . He feels bad about it now (only because his youngest won't let him hold her).

 

Anyway thanks for any advice anyone may have.

 

Katherine

post #2 of 2

It's so unfortunate when the kids get used as pawns like that.  I couldn't read without responding.  I don't know of any good books to read - I never did find any good ones, myself.  I do know that the anger will dissipate in time, and then come back, and then go away.  It never really does end, in my experience.

 

My only real suggestion is to look into whether or not there are resources in your area that offer councelling to the kids.  Sometimes their school will offer something.  I know that when I was young, and my parents got divorced, they put us in a group through our school called "Rainbows", that helped us work out our feelings about it all.  I wish I could find something like that for my kids, because it really did help to know that we weren't alone.  There were a surprising amount of kids going through the very same thing.

 

Just be the stable rock they need right now. Make sure they know that you're not going anywhere, and be there for them when they need to talk.  Be a listening ear.  Try not to discuss their dad, as hard as that can be at times.  I also had an ex-husband who left the country and abandoned his very confused and sad children, leaving them thinking it was all their fault.  There were a lot of behaviour issues that stemmed from the feelings of abandonment.  My 6 year old started stealing.  Mainly small little trinkets, and when I discussed it with a counceller it was explained that sometimes kids will do this when they feel a bit empty, and they're trying to fill that empty feeling after a parent leaves.  So you may see some weird behavioural things popping up if your ex really does leave for Japan.  Kids react in funny ways, sometimes.

 

You'll probably find that your younger child will adapt better than the older ones, in time.  The older ones can hoard a lot of bitterness. ;)  Especially because theyr'e old enough to remember the fights.  I still vividly remember a lot of the bad ones that my parents got into during their divorce.

 

Hopefully somebody else will have some good ideas re: resources or books.  My only advice is lots of hugs, lots of listening, and lots of reassuring your kids (when they need to hear it) that their father leaving has nothing to do with them, and that the divorce is not their fault.  Having been on both sides of the fence (both as a divorced parent, and a child of divorce) I know that kids will often drive themselves batty thinking about how they could have prevented their parents from splitting up by just being a better kid, being nicer, etc.  It really is a crummy feeling for them, and very hard for them to sort out.

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