FAMILY PHOTOS ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

My parents separated when I was 19, Dad moved on with his new lady, I saw him twice over the next 20 years.  He passed away unexpectedly and when we asked his ‘wife’ if we could have his photos she declined.  I have two photos of my dad, no family photos including photos of my childhood.

Divorced or divorcing parents take a moment to read this.

Guest post by Rosalind Sedacca 
I read a poignant comment on a blog recently written by a married mother of three. She was a child of divorce whose father moved out of the home when she was four. She talks about having very few pictures of herself as a child and only one of her mother and father together. Her grandfather found and gave her the photo just a few years ago. She framed it and has proudly displayed it in her home for her own children to see.

She explains how special that one photo of her with Mom and Dad is to her. It shows a little girl sitting happily on a lawn with her “real” family – before the divorce.

This woman grieves that she has no other photographs of her father and so few pictures of her childhood. She assumes that her mother hid or destroyed all other photos, “possibly to protect my stepparents’ feelings” as she moved on into other chapters in her life.

She goes on to send a message to all divorced parents who are transitioning into blended families. She stresses the importance of keeping previous family photographs to give to your children at the appropriate time – and not throwing them away. She implores people who are marrying men or women with children to “be the grownup” and acknowledge that children of divorce have other relationships that are meaningful and important to them.

Having pictures, gifts and other reminders of the non-custodial parent is very important to your children. We must never forget the connection and allegiance children innately feel toward both of their parents. When one parent is dismissed, put down or disrespected by the other parent, a part of your child is hurt as a result. They also feel that a part of themselves is flawed which creates much internal confusion.

Allow your children to keep their connection with their other parent – and with their past, unless they choose otherwise. If you’re a step-parent, don’t try to replace the birth Mom or Dad. There is room in a child’s heart to embrace and love you, as well, if you earn their trust and respect. You can’t demand or force it.

The woman’s blog post ends by asking us to imagine how we would feel if someone came into our family and discarded all the photos of Mom and Dad together. If we could just put ourselves into our children’s shoes on a regular basis we would avoid so many errors in parenting, and so many psychological scars.

This woman speaks for millions of children of divorce and her message needs to be heard. It’s also another validation for the concept of creating a family storybook when telling your children about the divorce. Showing the kids photos of the family together, during happier times in the past, reminds them that life moves in cycles and there will be good times ahead. It also shows them that they came from love and that love still exists for them – even if Mom and Dad are no longer living together.

Even if you’re long past the actual divorce, looking through family photo albums can spark conversation and sincere communication between you and your children.

Yes, it might bring up some tears and sadness, but talking about those feelings can be healing for everyone. You can also start new photo albums sharing happy times in the present so you can look back upon this chapter in your lives with smiles in the months and years to come. Isn’t this what you want for your family?

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
© Rosalind Sedacca  All Rights Reserved

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About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith has written 81 post in this blog.

Jenny is an absolute advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce.

She is the creator of the Divorced Women's Club www.divorcedwomensclub.com.au and Co-creator of Separation Made Easy www.separationmadeeasy.com. She delivers bespoke programs for women through her coaching services, writing, on-line programs and the Divorced Women's Club Members Lounge, a safe and private community for women to connect, share and support each other.

Jenny Smith

Jenny is an absolute advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce. She is the creator of the Divorced Women's Club www.divorcedwomensclub.com.au and Co-creator of Separation Made Easy www.separationmadeeasy.com. She delivers bespoke programs for women through her coaching services, writing, on-line programs and the Divorced Women's Club Members Lounge, a safe and private community for women to connect, share and support each other.