As a neutral child specialist, I value the opportunity to learn from the children with whom I work, all of whom have parents who are ending or have ended their marriage or partnership. Parents add a neutral child specialist to their Collaborative team because they see the benefit of children having a voice and getting the support of a mental health professional during a very difficult time in their lives.
I will never forget the very wise voice of a little girl who told me, “Deb, I’m not gonna tell my friends that my parents are getting divorced—that sounds too jaggedy. I’m gonna tell them my parents are getting unmarried, because that means the same thing.”
How simple and how brilliant!
It is true that our neural nets
for the word “divorce” include a lot of jagged associations that sound painful and scary to parents, and even more so to their children. The term “unmarried” helps create a new and more hopeful neural net of associations during and after a divorce or break up.
How different to a child’s ear to hear that her family is changing how it works
rather than her family is broken
? To understand that parents will co-parent
rather than have joint custody
? To believe that children will be kept at the center
and not in the middle
? Listening to children’s voices helps keep a crisis in their lives from ever becoming a trauma—and that is priceless.
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