Thursday, August 9, 2018

Children and Divorce: Reflections, Resources, and a Book Review

           I am a little late to the game in reading the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.  Last night (more correctly early this morning), I was finishing the third book in the series of four, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.  The stories and characters are captivating and all the accolades Ferrante has received for these novels are well deserved.  If you have not yet, go read them.  Now.

              Spoiler Alert:  Near the end of book three, the marriage of the narrator is breaking up.   The heartbreak, confusion, and anger of the spouse leaving the marriage are honestly portrayed by Ferrante.  What was also realistically depicted are the reactions of the spouse who did not initiate the separation, from the understandable anguish and unforgivable behavior stemming from it to the other’s spouse’s escalating and emotional reaction to it.  

              Without giving too much away, let’s just say that neither character handled the situation well and they placed their children right in the center of their conflict.   A hallmark of a good book, I am still angry at these fictional characters for acting this way and for how they treated their children.  I cannot wait to dive into the final book not only to see how the series ends but also to find out how the children are doing.

              Sadly, this was art imitating life and is something I see in the families of many of my clients who are divorcing.   Anger is understandable and likely unavoidable but how you deal with it makes all the difference.   A good therapist is an excellent resource to navigate the emotions of separation and divorce, especially where children are concerned.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has two great resources I like to share with my clients:

  • Stepping Back From Anger:  Protecting Children During Divorce, and
  • What Should We Tell the Children:  A Parent’s Guide for Talking About Separation and Divorce.

        I will write later to share my impressions on the final book, The Story of the Lost Child.   In the meantime, feel free to share what helped you or someone you know to make the divorce process easier for the children involved.

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