Divorce has become all too common these days, but the difficulty dealing with the changes are still present, for adults as well as the children. Children often feel anxiety for the future because their sense of security has been shaken.
The use of books to tell the story of an external character going through the divorce of their parents helps children make sense of this major life transition.
Reading allows children to have fun while learning, exercise their imagination, and access similar emotions to the characters going through a relatable experience.
Books give children the words to articulate complicated feelings while providing the space to express grief about the loss. They help normalize children’s feelings and experience.
A main goal post-divorce is to send the message to children that the love of their parents will always be there for them despite the changes in their parents’ relationship.
Here are a some of my favorite resources that help children cope with divorce:
Ms. Schmitz’s character, Addison finds himself living in two homes after his parents’ divorce. In Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Children’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce, the author uses straightforward language & repetition to send young children the messages of unconditional love.
It may help children to know that like Addison, they are not to blame for the divorce. This point is incredibly important to reiterate to young children post-divorce.
With this story, Schmitz teaches kids that having two homes can be just as great as having two strong feet to stand on. The illustrations are bright, captivating and perfectly support the words of the story. This book has a positive feel and is easy to understand, making it an excellent source of support.
In Healing a Child’s Heart After Divorce: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends, and Caregivers, Drs. Alan Wolflelt and Raelynn Maloney provide adults with tools on how to support children who are experiencing divorce in their family. They offer 100 ideas that caregivers can incorporate in the children’s lives such as “maintain family rituals,” “make the child’s favorite meal” “redefine family.”
This book’s recommendations help to facilitate a co-parenting relationship that has the child’s well-being at the forefront. It provides examples for ways in which adults can be a safe space for the child to express their grief rather than suppress it.
The “Carpe Diem” section on the bottom of each page offers examples of ways to bring the ideas to practice. This resource not only helps adults and children cope, but also integrate the divorce into their personal stories in a way that is healthy.
The Monkey in The Middle Series are a fun, therapeutic book series for children in a pre and post high-conflict divorce environment.
Narrated from the perspective of Max’s best friend, we learn about the feelings that often come up for children who feel as though they are caught in the middle of their parents’ divorce.
There is an interactive component where children can express emotions, write letters, exercises, and learn through “tool time” in various sections in each book.
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents & Young Children During Divorce is an easy-to-understand children’s story intended for families in which both parents intend to stay involved and active in their child’s life, while co-parenting.
Koko Bear is struggling through the challenges of divorce, including the emotions that often come up for him because of the changes he is experiencing.
This book helps children learn what divorce means, how family life will change, and understand that the parents’ divorce is not their fault.
Koko’s parents model healthy emotional release, offering Koko Bear the space to be able to do the same. Koko is supported through every step of the way, with his parents constantly reminding him that it’s not his fault.
Ms. Lansky offers insights and tips for parents, explaining a child’s perspective of divorce, while offering ways in which adults can support the child, making this book an educational resource for both parents and young children.
With comic strips featuring dinosaurs, Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families makes the tough topic of divorce more accessible.
The story shows a dinosaur family going through divorce from beginning to end, sending the message that everything will be OK and that each parent’s love will always be there for the child.
Bright illustrations depict emotions both adults and children can experience- like anger, sadness, longing for a parent, confusion.
The book goes on to illustrate, simplify and explain new living arrangements, what holidays may be like and what to expect if Mom and/or Dad remarry and have more kids.
This resource will serve as a helpful book to revisit as life during and after divorce unfolds for children and their parents.
Love is a Family is a great tool to initiate child-appropriate discussion about single-parent families with the intent of showing that love is what makes a family.
The character in the story, Lily, has to go to Family Fun Night at her school, but is fearful that the kids will laugh at her since her family consists of only of her mom and her. But to her surprise, when she and her mom attend the event, her mom quickly points out all of the different kinds of families in the room.
This book can encourage families to search for the various types of families that exist, and the beauty in each.
Foremost, it reminds single parents to be conscious of their child’s feelings and questions about family, while teaching children that not every family must have a traditional mom, dad and child family.
Two Homes offers an optimistic perspective using reassuring text and illustrations to children who are adjusting to living in two homes after their parents’ divorce like Alex, the main character.
This book focuses on what Alex gains rather than what is lost as we learn about the details of the very different environments.
Each page shows Alex feeling confident in her place at both Mom and Dad’s, despite the differences of each. This book normalizes the experience of many children who live in two homes.
Living with Mom and Living with Dad is a lift-the-flap book that engages young children in the story of a little girl whose parents are divorced, but who are actively involved in her life.
Each page describes the differences in her Mom’s home versus her Dad’s home from a place of acceptance and neutrality as readers lift the flaps.
For young children, their belongings are of utmost importance and this book emphasizes that the child in the story is able to carry her favorite toys to each home, offering a sense of security.
The child’s ability to acclimate to a new normal extends an optimistic view of life after divorce for children.
What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? A Survival Guide for Kids is an informative resource that offers answers to many common questions kids might have about their parents’ divorce, separation, breakup, or pending divorce.
It offers hope that things will get better. It offers advice and quotes from other children who have experienced similar circumstances.
Within the book, there are suggestions for other resources that may help with a particular topic. This guide is informative for adults as well, providing insight into a child’s perspective and how they can be of support for the child.
When Mom and Dad Separate: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief from Divorce is a creative workbook that allows children to draw out their experience based on the prompts on each page.
Ms. Heegaard provides clear and straightforward basic concepts about marriage and divorce to encourage a child to sort through their grief and loss associated with their parents’ divorce.
It is a cathartic experience for children to be able to access their emotions that may be too much to verbalize through creativity.
Parents or caregivers can facilitate a conversation with the child about his/her experience, feelings, and fears with the help of this resource. This book coupled with informative ways to cope with the divorce will enable to child to integrate the divorce into his/her life.
Sun Kiss, Moon Hugs with is told in a lyrical way that makes it soothing and comforting for young children.
It offers a supportive and therapeutic way for children to interpret and manage their feelings when they’re away from their loved ones, especially parents post-divorce.
The use of nature as a way to incorporate mindfulness helps children understand that no matter how far apart, we are connected with those that we love through the natural wonders of the Earth.