This is the title of a book I came across recently, by Kes Gray, written for children whose parents are separating or divorcing. As a family lawyer, providing divorce advice every day, I found the subject extremely moving and a good reminder of the wider impact divorce has on families.
Mum and Dad Glue is about a little boy who tries to find a pot of ‘parent glue’ to stick his mum and dad back together; his parents have ‘come undone and he wants to mend their marriage, stick their smiles back on and make them better’. Heart-wrenching stuff, I think you’ll agree.
Due to the growing number of separated families, there is a growing range of children’s literature aimed at helping children understand, and come to terms with, their parents’ separation or divorce. These are adult concepts, difficult for children to understand. On divorce or separation, children often blame themselves, and may find it hard to adjust to having two homes (and two of everything), moving out of the family home, and possibly even away from the friends and neighbourhood they have grown up in.
Reading books together with your children can be an excellent way of helping them to adjust. In Mum and Dad Glue, the overriding message is that, whilst the little boy’s parents may be ‘broken’, their love for him is not. It is so easy to forget, in the midst of a painful break-up, that for children, stability, reassurance and honesty is key. If you are struggling to manage your own emotions, books such as this may help you to re-focus your attention on the children.
Here are some others which may help:
For younger children:
It’s not your fault, Koko Bear (Vicki Lansky)
Two Homes (Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton)
I don’t want to talk about it (Jeanie Franz Ransom and Kathryn Kunz Finney)
Two of Everything (Babette Cole)
For older children:
Divorced but still my parents (Shirley Thomas and Dorothy Rankin)
The Suitcase Kid (Jacqueline Wilson)
It’s not the end of the world (Judy Blume)
Ultimately, children will be happier when living with happy parents, whether or not those parents are living in the same house. It is essential however to focus every effort on ensuring the process of divorce is carried out in as conciliatory and amicable a way as possible, to achieve a positive outcome for your children. Mediation, for example, may be helpful.