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 was innocent -- a sweet eleven year old who loved both his parents dearly. He didn’t deserve this.
I struggled with anxiety for weeks. When should we tell him? What should we say?
How do you tell a child that the life he has known is about to be disrupted – forever? How do you tell him that it’s not his fault?
And how do you prepare him for all the unknowns looming ahead when you’re not sure yourself how it will turn out?
One night I had an idea that resonated powerfully for me. I could prepare a storybook for my son. I could use photos and words to talk about our family – from before he was born to the present -- preparing him for the new changes ahead.
The storybook would give him something to hold on to, and read over again. It would explain why this was happening and what to expect. Rather than stumbling through the conversation, it would give me a written script well thought through in advance.
When I completed the storybook and showed my husband, he approved. It wasn’t judgmental or 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 storybook was a smart idea. We decided to present it together.
There is no way to make this tough conversation an easy one. As I started reading about the changes in our family, tears pooled up in my son’s eyes. By the time we reached the end, he was weeping and clinging tightly to both of us.
And then, as a family, we talked, cried, hugged, answered questions, reread important passages and consoled one another.
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, often rereading sections in the book as a reminder that things will be okay.
It’s been more than a decade since I prepared that storybook. It became the basis for my internationally acclaimed book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! I provide the text, along with age-appropriate fill-in-the-blank templates, so other parents could customize with their own family history while sharing the essential messages they want their children to hear.
I’ve since founded the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents which provides my free ezine, blog, coaching services, advice and other valuable resources related to divorce and parenting issues. I’ve become a Divorce & Parenting Coach, an Expert Blogger for The Huffington Post, KidzEdge Magazine, Exceptional People Magazine, ParentalWisdom.com and a dozen other divorce and parenting blogs and websites.
My now-grown son now engaged and is a successful veterinarian. He’s still quite close to his father and me. He honored me by writing the Foreword to my book and on occasion has been present to address audiences when I've spoken at Divorce Expos, conferences and other events for parents.
Of course, he hasn’t a clue about just how much that means to me – but as a divorced parent reading this story, I know you do!
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Rosalind Sedacca, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Co-host of the Divorce View Talk Show and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit http://bit.ly/1YWvqbo
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