Separation Anxieties

by Pholesha Johnson

Most women (and men) somehow recover and find that life goes can go on after divorce. At some point to move on you accept that the life that you once dreamt about, lived and loved — is over and there’s a new normal. As adults even when we don’t always have the answers to life’s changes we can find those coping mechanisms that help us navigate the newness. Whether it’s with counseling, talking with friends, or throwing ourselves into our career or children, we somehow find a way to carry on. But imagine that everything around you suddenly changed — your house, your friends, neighborhood, climate, room and toys all changed — all different, with no real world understanding.

How do the little people that we’re responsible for understand the changes in their world when love, or lack of, physically divides a home? When we as adults can barely make sense of sharing children created together, how do you explain with clarity to a five year old that mommy and daddy both still love you but they no longer love each other? How do you now make their shattered world okay?

No matter what the reason, divorce is a selfish task but sometimes necessary or even for the best. When things don’t work out and children are involved we at least owe them the truth about their lives and a sense that even though things are changing, they will be okay.

When I revealed to my two young children that we were no longer going to live in our family home with “daddy,” I cried more than they did — no one wants their children to hurt. To help me help them deal with the changes that were to come, I first sought out advice from their pediatrician who explained that children take cues from their surroundings and when they see you’re okay they have a sense of security and safeness. I also found age appropriate books that I thought would be relative to our particular situation and to better explain that life changes. I also made sure that I never spoke in a negative manner to or about my soon to be ex-husband in their presence and allowed no one else to do so and even with the drastic changes that were occurring in all of our lives. Lastly one of the most important things I put in place was establishing our new routine and being very diligent about sticking to it, this seem to be crucial as they knew what to expect. In my efforts to “make it okay” I wanted them to understand that it was not their fault and though life sometimes changes, love doesn’t. We are still getting through the newness and adapting to our “new normal,” and honestly it’s not always easy but we seem to be adjusting fairly well.

BeccaStone wants to know how you handled lifestyle changes with your children due to divorce or separation and how they handled it? Please candidly share your lessons learned, tools and other resources used that worked or didn’t, we would love to hear your stories?

A list of books for younger kids that you might find helpful:

My Family’s Changing by Pat Thomas
Was It the Chocolate Pudding by Sandra Levins
Two Homes by Claire Masurel
Dinosaur Divorce by Marc Brown
Why Don’t We Live Together Anymore
Mommy & Daddy Bear’s Divorce by Cornelia Maude Spelman
Standing on My Own Two Feet by Tamara Schmitz
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends (Let’s Talk About It!) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

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