Divorce: The view from a child

by: Amie Greenberg, JD, MBA and Barbara Greenberg, MD

Hannah sat silently and watched her children play in the house as they had for years. This time was different. Her husband moved the last of his things from their home that morning.

Although, they had talked to their children about the changes that would come with the divorce, the kids were not yet used to the new schedule and living arrangements. “What time is Daddy coming home?” asked their five-year old daughter. Hannah’s eyes welled with tears. “Remember, you will visit Daddy in a few days at his new home,” answered Hannah.

There was emptiness in the house, a different dynamic for her children. With raw emotion pouring from her heart and eyes, she buried her head in the couch and sobbed. She had not yet faced the changes affecting her children.

Later that night, feeling sad and sorry for the effects on her children, she scoured the Internet until she came across an interesting blog. Inspiration and Chai (www.inspirationandchai.com) had an article entitled “Regrets Of The Dying” by Bronnie Ware. Hannah felt their family unit had died with the divorce and began reading. Hannah thought about her regrets, and her focus came to their children. The divorce was the best thing for her and her husband. However, their children did not choose the divorce. They, however, had no choice but to live through it and adjust to all the changes.

Hannah read Ware’s blog which lists the five most common regrets of the dying. In reading it, she recognized a powerful message for her own life and how to help and teach her children: To move forward and live life without regret and teach her children to face life, its challenges and changes using these principles.

This was how Hannah would help her family heal through the divorce. After reading Ware’s blog, Hannah wrote down a similar list to remind herself what was important:

1. Live with happiness and make that choice daily. Even though their children’s lives changed as a result of the divorce, they can still and should experience life with happiness.

2. Live a life true to yourself, and honor and fulfill your dreams. The divorce gave Hannah and her children a fresh and exciting start. Not only can they live their lives according to their dreams, they can reshape and add new ones! Hannah decided she would make this a new and exciting journey for their children.

3. Don’t work so much as to miss precious moments and time together. In a divorce, parents generally share physical custody time with the other parent. When Hannah and the children are together, the family will set weekly quality time without work or other distractions.

4. Maintain and nurture precious friendships – the children’s friends and playdates will be encouraged to maintain continuity, which is important and should not change because of the divorce. Most importantly, Hannah will encourage her children to say what they feel without hesitation or reservation. This is essential to their healing through the divorce and is the message of the “I Am Divorced” books.

Mother-daughter co-authors Barbara Greenberg, MD and Amie Greenberg, JD, MBA, wrote children’s books entitled “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Nick’s Story” and “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Julianna’s Story.

”I Am Divorced” books describe the changes children experience with divorce. The "I Am Divorced" books target children, but anyone experiencing a divorce can benefit.The books can be read by divorcing parents, couples contemplating divorce and by anyone helping a parent, child or family through a divorce. It might prevent some couples from divorcing or, at the least, prepare them to think of the children first and foremost before they make decisions they might regret later.

Amie Greenberg, JD, MBA, is an attorney who practices family law in Beverly Hills, California. Barbara Greenberg, MD is a psychiatrist, neurologist and family therapist in Brea, California.

Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia who spent several years caring for dying people in their homes. She has recently released a full-length book titled 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing'. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for. For more information, please visit Bronnie's official website atwww.bronnieware.com. And, www.hayhouse.com.au.