Children of Seperation and Divorce Center, Inc. / Columbia: 410-740-9553
Summer is a more relaxed time for vacations and long weekends. For kids whose parents live in two different places, summer may mean that they spend much more time with a parent in the summer than they do in the school year. This is a really significant change for kids.
COSDís peer counselors described what it is like for them to spend more time with their other parent. For some peer counselors, this means spending a two-week vacation with a parent and for others, moving to an entirely different state for most of the summer. We encouraged counselors to share what they found to be helpful in adjusting to the change.
Carol, 15 spends most of her time with her mom during the school year and essentially moves to her dadís house about thirty miles away over the summer. Of being in a different place Carol says, ďItís kind of hard because you plan to be with that parent but the other parent may have plans for you and you donít know what they are.Ē Carol has found it to be awkward when both parents have plans for her and her sisters and sometimes she is the last to know. Carol shared that there
is a bright side to that, ďOur parents have to talk a lot more with each other because of different plans. Thatís really good because then we arenít messengersĒ. Carol found that putting the responsibility to communicate about plans back on her parents was very helpful.
Lynne, 15, spends the winter holidays and a month out of every summer with her father, who lives twelve hours away in Chicago. Lynne places a lot of importance on that extended time with her dad. ďI get to know what my dadís life is like and I am part of his family for a little while. I feel connected and happy while I am there. I feel like he is so far away for the school year and for that one month, I feel very close and connected to him.Ē As for leaving old friends and familiar places for a month, Lynne suggests that kids view the change as, an escape, a break from every day life.
Not all peer counselors were as positive as Carol and Lynne. It used to be really bad when we went to my momís house, said Brenda, now 24. ďWe spent most of our time alone watching TV. We really didnít communicate much at allĒ.
Continued on page two
Healing Hearts/ Volume 2, Issue 5 / Page 2 of 3
Brenda shared that she developed a much better relationship with her mom through counseling groups at COSD. Other kids helped me to realize that I wasnít connecting with my mom. I wasnít letting her know that I did want to talk and be together. We just both assumed that the other didnít want to talk. Brenda learned how to have a better relationship with her mom and was able to achieve that with the support of her group. Darrell, the artist who drew the adjoining cartoon, has just begun his effort to have a better relationship with his dad. He plans on letting his dad know that he does want to spend time together and then start by choosing something that they both enjoy together.
If you spend your summer in a
By Danielle, age 9
"It feels like divorce has made my world turn upside-down," says Danielle. Danielle used marker and crayons to create a stained-glass effect. To help herself feel "right-side-up," Danielle draws, sings and plays an instrument.
My mom and dad want me to fly on an airplane by myself to visit my dadís parents in Arizona. That is a really long trip and I have never been on a plane by myself. I tell my parents this, but they tell me how safe it is and that kids fly by themselves all of the time.
What can I say so that they will listen to me?
J.K. Columbia, MD
Although your situation is very specific in that you are worried to fly on an airplane by yourself, the feelings that
you have are shared by many other kids who write and talk with us at COSD. It sounds like you have several different feelings about your situation. First, you are worried and anxious about flying by yourself, which is a pretty big deal, so itís normal to be afraid. The other feeling may be sadness and frustration that you are telling your parents how you feel and you donít think that they are listening. Most parents will respond to their kids when they bring up a problem by trying to solve it.
Thatís what moms and dads do. Try letting your parents know when they start to jump in with solutions and remedies for your feelings that you just need them to listen first. Try using an I statement like, I feel frustrated when you tell me not to worry because it doesnít seem like you are listening to me. I need you to hear how important this is to me. I hope that you are able to feel understood and that if or when you get on the plane, you are feeling up to it.
different environment and would like to share your feelings or ask a specific question, email or write to Carolyn Wohnsigl, editor, at the address on page three. And whatever your plans may be, enjoy the rest of your summer!
Transitions, By Darrell, age 12 Darrell explains, We each go to a separate room to watch TV or play videos. Before we know it, the weekend is over.
As an extension of an activity in our KidShare program, Zach, 12, chose to write about some of the powerful feelings he associates with separation and divorce. Below are two of his poems.
You may tell me but I wonít listen. You may be believable but I wonít listen. It may make sense, but it wonít to me. Because I am in denial and thatís how it should be.
Iím confused, Iím confused. I donít know my toes from my shoes. Confused, confused. When will it stop? Confused, confused; Iím getting dizzy, I think I will stop.
Here is a word find by Jenny, age 12 called "Summer Days"
Word List: Sun, Smile, Sand, Ocean, Pool, Read, Shade, Movies, Daydreams
S N J L L S H A D E T N V C X Y U
A R E N E M K L O P B W W B R O
N R C L O I K S I S O Q T P E J E
D F I N I S L U R E G R L E S R E
N M P C B E B A R S V T R Y R R
O C E A N N E M P Q E V M C H P
H R I N I P I Q A T I O V V S W Q
I E O R U T T L O E P O O L N L
N A O U L O I P C N O L P R C B I
E T S M R E A D M P L U S H Y D
R E N P O S E M E N S T H E H F
M O V I E S D A Y D R E A M D S I