Separation and Divorce Support Books for Children and Teens
Divorces are difficult enough for the couple going through it, but as every loving parent knows, it can be just as difficult (and perhaps more so) for the children. The Women’s Divorce Resource Center’s Board of Directors compiled a list of the best, most helpful divorce and separation support books for children. This may be the toughest transition of their lives; expert advice, relatable scenarios, and healing activities from these books will assure your children that no matter what happens between their parents, they are not at fault and they are so, so loved.
- 1. Let’s Talk About It: Divorce by Fred RogersAge Range: All ages but geared toward younger childrenThis is a favorite because it helps prompt discussions regarding feelings and provides a sense of security. The book is helpful for all types of families going through life changes whether amicable or high conflict. The pictures are of actual divorced families and may seem a bit dated but are very helpful to show children that have been through a similar experience. The suggestions to help manage stress include drawing, finding a special area, and “pounding some clay”.Helpful tip: Using sand, clay, play-doh or even using pizza dough with your children promotes relaxing and calming experiences. It also is very therapeutic and stimulates sensory connections in the brain. Playing with dough can help a child deal with emotions about stressful life changes. Consider having a play date with your child to reduce stress by pounding dough to make a pizza or with sand to make a sand castle.
- 2. Two Homes by Claire MasurelAge Range: 3 – 7 yearsThis book is very simple with cartoon pictures to show the child’s home with each parent. It is a very nice book for amicable families without mentioning any conflict or blame. The child named Alex could be a boy or girl. It helps show that the child is loved at each parent’s home. It is interesting that the dad’s home is a lake front location with blue skies and mom’s home is in a rainy crowded city. The book has a very simple message to help a child adjust to parents that have separated. It may not be as helpful for an older child to address feelings or more complicated issues during divorce or separation.Clients have provided feedback that this is a favorite to read together with their child from age 3 – 7 to help adjust to the changes with two homes.
- 3. My Family’s Changing by Pat ThomasAge Range: 5 – 9 yearsThis book is geared toward higher conflict cases and includes information about parents that are arguing and children that are reacting with negative or “naughty” behavior. Natasha pointed out that it is best to avoid placing blame such as on page 7 that states “It is not your fault when your parents get divorced, even though it may feel like it. It’s your parent’s fault…” There is also a picture of parents arguing which may help or may not be applicable to all families if parents are able to reduce conflict in front of the children.The book includes symbols to prompt discussions between the child and the person reading the book with the child. The back of the book includes an explanation on “How to use this book”, a glossary of terms, and additional reading suggestions.
- 4. When Mom’s and Dad’s Separate by Marge HeegaardAge Range: 6 – 12 yearsThe goal of this book is to encourage children to express their feelings by drawing pictures. The author points out at the beginning of the book that “It is easier for children to draw their feeling than to verbalize them.” Therefore, this book may be better suited for children that need help finding ways to express their feelings and may be showing signs of distress such as headaches, tummy aches and behavior issues as noted by the author.This book has very specific terms explaining marriage and divorce along with a list of problems including anger, terrible things, and that parents may decide “their marriage was a big mistake.” The next page states that divorce may include “many changes …parents that are busier, angry and sad” and “something important may be lost.” The suggestions to let anger out on page 18 include “Scribble on an old newspaper using a lot of color and feeling. Scrunch it into a ball to toss at a blank wall.” Please do not get mad at your child if your wall is marked up as a result of this book. Overall, the book has helpful information but should be monitored by a parent or therapist to help discuss the messages together.
- 5. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe and Evan Stern with a little help from their mom, Ellen Sue SternAge Range: 8 – 15 yearsThe authors of this book include a sister, brother and their mother that experienced the divorce process. The parents appeared to have successfully co-parented without conflict. It includes a helpful revision from the authors 10 years after the book was first released. The book provides the authors’ insight to divorce along with the father’s “choice to spend his time with a man instead of a woman.” It covers 20 subjects starting from being told about the divorce to post-divorce issues with step-parent tips. The book includes letters from children requesting advice and the author’s answers. The end of each topic offers “Your Turn” for the reader to relate with feelings and helpful suggestions. Other topics include feelings of guilt, anger, managing personal items between homes, planning birthdays, sharing thoughts with friends and parents, and a discussion on therapy. It was interesting that the kids did not want to attend counseling at the time of divorce but 10 years later strongly encouraged it to address any pain and anger. I recommend the book for older children and young adults as well.
- 6. Divorce Helpbook for Teens by Cynthia MacGregorAge Range: 15 – 19 yearsMy 12 year old recommends this book to his friendsIt took quite a bit of searching to find books for older teens. This book was written by a divorced mom providing advice to teens on how to handle divorce related issues. At first, some of the examples seemed a bit cynical toward men and the first chapter jumps right into depression issues. The advice seemed a bit unrealistic for the teen to discuss his mother’s behavior with others like her doctor but not to discuss with his father. The book improves with helpful suggestions for various topics in later chapters. A useful summary is listed in “Points to Remember” at the end of each chapter. The book is geared toward older children with tips on avoiding bad decisions such as cheating, having sex, lending a car, smoking, alcohol, and offers alternatives for making better choices.A helpful resource for teens was also found at: http://teenshealth.org/en/teens/ A safe, private place to get doctor-approved information on health, emotions, and life including divorce at the following link: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/divorce.html?WT.ac=ctg#catparents
We suggest reading whichever book you pick for your child yourself to ensure you agree with the message and also to gain perspective. It helps to put yourself in your child’s shoes while you read it and see if you can’t pick up some tips yourself to ease the transition in areas you may not have been aware were affecting your child.
We hope these books help you and your family through this phase, and remember: we are here for your questions and to support you. If you’re local to Michigan, check out our upcoming events designed specifically to help YOU.