What Every Elementary Student Should Know About Divorce

Children at the elementary school level need to be reassured that:

1.        they are not the only children experiencing a divorce,
2.        they did not contribute to the divorce,
3.        they will be taken care of, and
4.        they still have two parents, but the parents will not be living together.

Even several years after the divorce, children need to be reassured.

           The concept that they are not to blame needs to be restated frequently. I always pose the question,
“Has any child caused her parents to get divorced?” Sometimes, I get the answer, “Yes.” I follow that up with,
“Tell me how that could be?”

   The child’s answer will vary from some task not performed well, like chores, to some behavior such as
fighting with siblings. We explore their reply very seriously, but soon the notion that a child can contribute to
the divorce dissolves. I can see relief cross their faces.

   We like to believe that life is fair and that bad things only happen to bad people. Doesn’t Santa have a big
book of behavior in which he records when we are good and when we are bad? Don’t good children get
presents and bad children get a lump of coal at Christmas? If only that were true!

   We review a myriad of situations starting with pets being run over: Was your dog bad? We talk about
accidents and sickness. Did your infant sister do something bad to deserve being born blind? Soon we see a
pattern emerging that bad things do happen to good people.

   At this point, there are some shocked faces and I wish I had a direct line to Upstairs. Can’t we get someone
on the phone who is responsible for the universe and can explain why children suffer? Why are children born
with AIDS and why are children often the first victims in war? I can’t explain that, but we do explore ways to
make lemonade out of lemons. We conclude that other bad things may happen, but we can look for ways to
empower us.