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On the last track, we discussed Telling the Children About Divorce. This included telling together, headlining, the "now," and why?
Do you have clients who are dealing with the aftermath of divorce? Are their children mourning the loss of their parents’ marriage? What advice do you give?
On this track, we will discuss letting children mourn. This will include the grief of good-bye, reorganizing their lives and sharing sorrow with peace. As you listen, think about how you counsel your divorced clients regarding their grieving children.
Colette, age 28... was going through a divorce. She asked, "I have a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old. My husband just moved out, and I’m worried about how my kids are taking it. I mean, I’m grieving myself…my husband left me for someone else, and I’ve certainly got my own issues to deal with…will our processes of grief coincide?" I stated, "Stages of mourning are usually not in sync with the passage either parent is going through. For you, it might be the end of a marriage, but for your children, they will likely feel their world has been ripped apart." Colette stated, "What should I expect from them?" How might you have responded?
Their schoolwork might suffer if they’re lost in daydreams, distracted, or so angry and frustrated that they are unable to concentrate on anything but the reality that their world is being torn apart. If you and your ex are battling, your children might exhibit extreme hostility or aggression." Do you agree? Colette asked, "What if my children express their feelings aggressively? How can I help them express themselves healthily?" I stated, "When kids express their feelings irresponsibly, you can accept the feelings as real, name them, and help your children find alternative expressions that are both responsible and constructive."
Colette stated, "My 7-year-old has been throwing his stuffed animals out the window onto the lawn. I don’t know what he thinks that will accomplish! He’s aggressive, I know…" I stated, "You might say to him, ‘It’s all right to be frustrated about Mommy and Daddy not living together, but throwing your stuffed animals out the window onto the lawn probably won't help. Can you talk to me about your frustration? Let’s look at how we can work through this.’"
Guideline #2 - Reorganizing Life
I stated, "Again, when you acknowledge your children’s feelings as real and legitimate, without passing judgment, your children will hopefully come to learn that their feelings are important, that they can be trusted to handle them, and that it is okay to count on others for support. As your daughter goes through her own passage of mourning, you might not just talk to her about how she’s feeling, but honor her expressions of those feelings. For example, simply noticing, ‘You look really sad,’ can be a helpful acknowledgement to your daughter."
Guideline #3 - Sharing Sorrow with Peace
On this track, we discussed Letting Children Mourn. This included the grief of good-bye, reorganizing their lives and sharing sorrow with peace. If you feel this information may be beneficial to a divorcing client with children, consider playing this track during one of your sessions.
On the next track, we will discuss Helping Them to Cope. These will include infants, toddlers, five- to nine-year-olds and adolescents.
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