I am not a play therapist nor am I a therapist or social worker.
I'm just your average everyday mother with a beautiful only child-- a child of divorce.
My ex-husband (it's almost official) and I were both raised by two parents that stayed married and are still married. Neither of us could really understand nor will we ever fully understand the position our daughter is in. For me, it was a no-brainer that play therapy could help our child. It took longer to convince him, but he's a believer now I'd say!
A former teacher, I had seen children go through a lot of nasty divorces and I had promised myself when the two of us decided to divorce that we would never be those parents arguing in the school parking lot and that promise has been upheld.
Still, even though ours is a tame and amicable divorce, we have our rocky moments and even more so, our daughter has had a difficult time adjusting. Just 3 when we decided to cut ties, our precocious only child regressed and lashed out. Showed signs of anxiety. Anger. Sadness. When you look at a drawing of her family today, it's all of us together plus some imaginary siblings she threw in, and we are all smiling.
Talk about wish fulfillment on so many levels -- siblings. Dad and I, together.
Some kids take divorce relatively easy and others, not so much. Perhaps if my daughter had had a sibling to absorb and process the change with maybe she would have taken it better. Perhaps if she weren't so smart she would have handled it better. Perhaps if she were older....IF, IF,IF.
The fact was divorce was hard on her and being shared between two homes was tough.
Thanks to smart and intuitive teachers and two wonderful parents, finally, we are seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel.
When your child struggles through a divorce it is heartbreaking. There is no worse feeling than that when my daughter would tell me how much she wanted mommy and daddy in the same home. That "divorce stinks." Try hearing that from a 3-year-old. It's soul-crushing.
But it gets better parents of divorce. I'm not saying it will be perfect or her wish (see family drawing reference). I'm not saying she doesn't still have moments. She does. Sharing a friend is a challenge because she has had so much loss that the idea of losing another person she loves is unbearable. But she is doing great! It is great to see. My girl is back, for the most part.
I'm simply saying that it gets better and I believe fully that this is due to not only the people who love her, but also the play therapist that helps her and helps both my ex and me to work and co-parent effectively to support her.
Play therapy helped us figure out how our daughter was grieving and processing the changes in her life. Play therapy helped my daughter learn how to express her struggles and learn new strategies to handle anger and sadness. Play therapy helped my ex and me with parenting techniques to support her. I could go on ad nausem of how helpful play therapy has been for us, for her.
This is an APB to parents of divorce: consider play therapy. You may not even realize your child is struggling. You may know your child is struggling but have no clue how to help.
Consider play therapy.
It changed things for us.
This year, everyone -- teachers included -- sees the difference in my daughter.
I cannot stress enough how play therapy was a catalyst in healing for the whole family.