Child of Divorce

Since Joe’s work schedule changed recently, we have also changed our joint custody/visitation schedule.  This is the first week trying out the new pick up and drop off since the Texas trip.  Generally David will be picking Jack up from Joe’s on Thursday nights since it is on his way home from work and I don’t drive on Thursday evenings (that’s a post for another time although I’m not making any promises).  David is out of town currently so Joe was kind enough to bring Jack to my house this evening so that I wouldn’t have to drive.  This seemed like a good thing…until around bedtime.

We have a routine of tooth brushing, picking out three books, and going to bed.  I needed to tell Jack to pick out books several times and at one point Jack dissolved into tears.  He told me he was sad that his dad brought him here.  Wow, that was hard to hear!  After setting aside my own feelings on hearing that, I asked him why it made him sad.  He told me he thought his dad, stepmom, and he were visiting and then going back to his dad’s house.  I reassured him that his dad loves him and the dam broke.  I told him that it’s okay to be sad and miss his dad, that I love him too and he’ll see his dad soon.  We snuggled and talked and eventually he relaxed, smiled, laughed and was back to his goofy self.

To my knowledge, this is the first time this has happened.  Somehow we neglected to discuss the schedule change with Jack and prepare him properly, I guess.  I remember being a kid and having feelings similar to what Jack expressed tonight after getting dropped off at my mom’s or dad’s.  I think perhaps a drop-off can feel a bit like abandonment.  So heartbreaking!

There are a few ways I think we can approach this.  It might be best to avoid drop-offs.  We were doing that previously (unintentionally) but I didn’t realize how important it was until now.  Talking and hugging and reassurance seemed to help Jack a lot.  He pays a lot of attention to the messages in books, so we read The Kissing Hand tonight (it was loaned to me today – great timing!) and I recently purchased Two Homes.  I was planning on giving him Two Homes for his birthday but perhaps I need to pull it out earlier than that.

This has honestly caught me by surprise.  Perhaps due to his age, Jack has seemed mostly unaffected by the divorce until now.  I have to wonder if this incident was due to our poor preparation this once or if this will come up more as he gets older and can reason better.  Anybody know?

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Comments

  1. Every child is different. Although we went through the exact same thing, my brother and I came through it quite differently. I was, at most times, able to find peace in my new life and a stable relationship with my stepfather. My brother never did.
    Every child is different. Stay close to Jack, let him talk about his feelings, and hope for the best.

  2. This is such a tough one. I was in Jack's place all my life, except they lived in different countries until I was 10. This will come up again and again, it will just manifest itself in different ways depending on what age/stage he's in. It occurred to me recently that the reason at the very core of my sadness/anger was not that I “thought it was my fault” as almost everyone says (it's not your fault!) but that as a child it is very confusing when your parents stop loving each other; brings up the question “how can *I* love my mom/dad if my dad/mom doesn't love him/her any more?” So hopefully you and your ex husband can continue to be cordial with each other 🙂

  3. That is definitely tough to hear. But it sounds like you handled it amazingly well. I have two ss's and have learned to understand their need to know the schedule over the years (trial and error). Plus, it was difficult and still is difficult at times for them to adjust to schedule changes. But they have been pretty good as long as they are aware of what is changing.

  4. PS I LOVE the kissing hand book! I think they enjoyed it too, lol. It seemed to help to make 'rituals' out of giving them a kiss on the hand before bed or whenever. Seemed to put them at ease.

    Check out, I love you stinky face books (I think there are 3).

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