David’s teachers described him as immature for the 5th grade and as having difficulty paying attention. His large
dark framed glasses covered his thin face and his eyes seemed to disappear behind his glasses and vanish into
a distant daydream.
His drawing had his face like a balloon hovering in the air above his family. His expression is one of sadness as
he watches his family below—his two younger sisters and his parents—divide.
Children who draw pictures that lack limbs such as hands or feet, often are reflecting a lack of control that they
feel about their situation. Strong hands may represent the feeling of being able to control the environment like an
artist who fashions a sculpture or drawing. No hands equals no control. Their life canvasses are being painted on
Feet give the body a solid stance on the ground. Without strongly planted feet, a person can be bowled over.
Coaches tell football players to plant their feet solidly on the ground to keep from being knocked over. A child with
no feet may be revealing a lack of roots and stability.
In David’s case, he is so severed and lacking control over his environment, he floats like a balloon. During class,
his attention drifts away to his domestic scene. He wonders what will become of his family. It is not surprising that
he has difficulty paying attention in class. How can math be relevant if your family is dividing?
All too often, this lack of attention is labeled ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and treated by
medication. Yet, these children whose attention is consumed by the trauma at home will be able to escape for
hours by playing a video game or watching a DVD. Attention is not a problem if the child has something to escape
the problems at home. Medication is not the answer and avoids tackling the real issues in the child’s life.
In some cases, children’s grades plummet while the divorce is taking place. Other children will improve their
grades dramatically when the parents separate and the conflict and tension end.
The key is not whether the parents stay together or separate, but whether the child is exposed to constant
combat. The constant strife will take its toll.
If children are told that they are loved and will be cared for and if they are not exposed to constant conflict, they
will do much better than remaining in a war zone jeopardized by parental conflict.
Figure 8: I Hate You
The War Zone
Many older elementary school boys are attracted to war toys and video games. Even by these violent
standards, Ted’s picture, “Acme Atomic Bomb” received a high violence approval rating from his peers. His figure
of his mother and father actually shows some resemblance to the combat video characters in arcade games. Is
this how parents wish to be remembered?