Jean Tracy

Article Summary:

Talking to children about divorce using the Family Meeting.

Talking to Children about Divorce

Painful problems occur in every family. In fact, pain is a challenge for everyone. The Family Meeting is an excellent tool for discussing difficult situations.

Many of our children face the one thing that pains them most, divorce. In my 22 years as a child/family counselor, I rarely found a child happy about his/her parents' divorce. Instead they looked for ways to get their parents to pull together. They thought if they became the focus of their parents' attention, their parents might stay together. Some kids exploded with anger. Some moped with depression. Others "dropped out." Their tactics didn't work.

Family meetings can help parents either separately or together help their children cope. Below are 5 painful problems that most children of divorce never want to face.

5 Painful Problems:

  1. Learning that their parents are divorcing.
  2. Moving to a different neighborhood and school.
  3. Window watching for the visiting parent who doesn't come.
  4. Meeting their parents' new lover.
  5. Meeting the kids in the "other" family.

Divorce creates a hole in the hearts of our kids. Rather than let that hole broaden and deepen, family meetings can help our children voice their feelings.

At family meetings parents find out their children's shocking thoughts and feelings, like:

  • "The divorce is my fault."
  • "If I had been a better kid, mom and dad wouldn't be divorcing."
  • "If I hadn't said the wrong things, maybe mom and dad would still be together."

Finding out how our kids think and feel is the first step to helping them. Listening and letting them voice their pain can release some of the stress they are carrying. The family meeting is a good place to share their pain.

Whether you're a single parent, a stepparent, an adoptive family, a foster parent, or a two parent family, the family meeting offers a powerful approach to easing pain and helping our children cope.

Jean Tracy - "Granny Jean" - graduated from Seattle University with a degree in Education. She taught elementary school in Washington, California, and Connecticut. Inspired by her desire to help the problem children in her classes, Jean returned to graduate school. She earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Upon returning to her home in Washington State, Jean worked as a probation officer and then developed a private counseling practice with families and children that spanned twenty-two years. During this time she achieved a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work.

For more information visit Granny Jean's website, www.kidsdiscuss.com.

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