I’ve faced many difficult moments in my life. But preparing to tell my son that I will be divorcing his father was absolutely one of the worst. He, after all, was innocent — a sweet eleven year old who loved his father and mother dearly. He certainly did not deserve this.
I struggled with anxiety for weeks in advance. When should we tell him? How? And what should we say? How do you explain to a child that the life he has known is about to be disrupted – forever? How do you tell him that none of this is his fault?
And how do you prepare him for all the unknowns looming ahead when you’re not sure yourself how it will all turn out?
One night in bed at 4 a.m. a thought came to me that resonated in a powerful way. What if I prepared a photo album for my son that told the story of our family in pictures and words? And what if it spanned from before he was born right up to the present, preparing him for the new changes ahead?
The storybook concept gave him something tangible to hold on to, and read again and again. It would explain why this was happening and what to expect. And, rather than stumbling through an awkward conversation, it would give me a written script that was well thought through in advance.
The idea still had merit the next morning and so I moved ahead in this new direction.
When I completed the storybook and showed it to my husband, he approved. It was neither judgmental nor accusatory. Instead it told the truth while focusing on messages of mutual agreement – the love and concern we had for our son.
While my husband was angry about many issues, he agreed the book was well done. We decided to present it together.
The dreaded day came, and as I started reading about changes, tensions and disagreements in our family, tears pooled up in my son’s eyes. By the time I reached the end, he was weeping uncontrollably and clinging to both of us tightly.
And then, as a family, we talked, cried, hugged, answered questions, reread important passages and consoled one another.
The deed was done. And somehow, having the book to hold on to, was helpful for my son. We discussed the impending divorce many times in the next weeks and months. Sometimes we reread sections in the book as a reminder that things will be okay.
It’s been more than a decade since I prepared that storybook. I’ve since remarried, and my son is now a successful veterinarian. He’s still very close to both me and his father. When I asked him to write the Introduction to my new book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! he said he was deeply honored. But he has no idea how much it means to me!
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. Through her Child-Centered Divorce Network parents will also find more information, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources about divorce and parenting at http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
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