This story was written by a young girl here in Maine named Olivia when she was only 8 years old. She worked with a counselor to help her get through some of the most difficult parts of her parents' divorce, and one of the things that helped her the most was writing down her thoughts along the way. Four years later, Olivia has adjusted very well to the changes that divorce brought to her family and hopes that you can benefit from hearing her story.
Hello. My name is Olivia. I am 8 years old and I live in Maine. I am in the 3rd grade. My parents were separated from each other when I was 6 years old. This caused a lot of changes in my life that I had to get used to. Right now I live with my Mother but I see my Dad all the time too.
I decided to write this book for a few reasons. First, I wanted to help other kids deal with changes in their lives by sharing some of my ideas about the experiences in my life. Second, by writing this book, I can understand my own life changes a little better. Third, I would like to help other kids learn that there are ways to deal with changes that could happen in their lives, too.
Before my Mom and Dad got separated, I didn't know they were even talking about it. I was surprised when they told me. I thought when they were talking with each other, and they looked real serious, they were talking about normal stuff. When I found out about the separation, they told me together. I'm glad they did it that way.
On my Dad's last day at home, which I'll never forget, I felt very, very, very sad. I remember everything about it. My Dad felt sad too. He had to move to a different town and live with my Nana. After one year he moved closer to me and now lives in an apartment in the next town from me. The ride to his house is only about 10 minutes away from where I live with my Mom.
After they were separated for a while and lived apart they decided to officially get divorced. That means that they went to court and a judge signed a paper. This was a big Life Change!
After my Mom and Dad got separated and divorced my Dad moved, my Mom and I moved, we gave up our dog, and I missed my Dad. These are all things that changed in my life. But there were lots of things that did not change. My Dad is still my Dad. My Mom is still my Mom. My Nana is still my Nana. My Gram is still my Gram. I still get to go to my same school. (Sometimes other kids have to move to a new town and start at a different school.) Even though I live in a new neighborhood I still have the same friends at my school. I still do things with my Mom and with my Dad. But now sometimes we have to do them separately. Something that my parents have done to help me is that they have really had to keep talking to each other and have tried to get along. Sometimes not everything in Life Changes!
When Changes happened in my family it took awhile to get used to them. It was hard at first to understand what was going on and what would happen next. For example, sometimes I missed my Dad a lot after he moved and I felt lonely without him. Things just weren't the same after he left. It took awhile to get used to this change. I began to be more afraid of things, like the dark, and sleeping on my own, and I wondered if I would be able to keep seeing my Dad. Talking with other people to understand what was happening was helpful. People that I talked with included my Social Worker, and my parents. Some other people who are there for me if I need them are my grandmother, my grandfather, aunt, or my step-grandfather. It's important to talk about things that we are afraid of or confused about because we need to get answers and help. Questions are okay. Don't feel shy or worried about asking questions and trying to find answers.
I learned that it is important to take care of yourself when your parents get divorced, and I learned that they have to take care of themselves. Kids can't take care of their parents, they can only take care of themselves. Parents have to make their own decisions about separation and divorce, it's not up to the kids. Parents get divorced because of their own reasons, not because of their kids. Parents keep growing up too. Sometimes we get afraid of things in our lives when it feels different in our family, and it's important to talk to other people when Life Changes!
After a divorce your parents may go on dates with a person that they have met somewhere. Sometimes parents will develop new relationships with new people, and you may be able to bond with that person too.
You may feel worried and confused about who will take care of you and what is going on. You may be angry at your parent because you may not know how to share your parent since it has been just you and your Mom or you and your Dad with undivided attention for each other. Or you may feel happy just to see your parent happy. You could feel all kinds of these feelings. But that is normal too, just remember Life Changes.
As you all know, my name is Olivia, but I am now 9 and I will turn 10 in November. I am in third grade and I still go to the same school. I am still living with my parents divorced. Three years later I am used to it. I see my Dad almost every day. I now know how to deal with my feelings and I feel comfortable sharing them with others. Soon you will feel that too.[>
My Mom just went to Virginia on a business trip for four days. I am staying with my Dad and tonight, May 1st, I'm going to the airport with my aunt to pick up Mom. I can't wait.
My parents worked out a way to make sure I get equal attention from them both and that I would always be with an adult that could take care of me the way they do.
Sometimes parents with children get divorced, but they can work together to make sure you are well-taken care of.
A Note to Parents
As you can see, I worked through my parent's divorce because it was amicable. The most important thing they did to help me was they kept up their talking and their friendship. I still get the same attention that I got when my Mom and Dad were married.
I really had to get used to this change, in some ways it took apart my life. In three years I was able to sew my life back together. This is how your child can feel too if you as parents keep talking to each other and to your kids. Make sure that your children know why you got divorced, because they may think it's their fault like I did.
“I learned how important our behavior (verbal and non-verbal) is, and how it impacts our children. How I can rise above all issues, and just focus on my babies.”
“What I learned was that the best thing I can do for my kids is to say something good about their other parent!”
“I appreciated the focus on how many different relationships my/our kids are dealing with.”
“I learned I am in control of my behavior; I can’t control my co-parent!”
“I received validation; it helped to know that I’m not alone. I appreciated the section on preparing for court – that is coming up soon and I am scared.”