Divorce is not just between the two spouses; it is a “family divorce”. As children have to cope with a lot of new feelings and concerns, and with interruptions in their day-to-day lives. If parents look at divorce through the eyes of their children then divorcing parents will know how to best support their children during this difficult transition.
Most of the time, parents get information from divorce professionals, mediators, and therapists on what the divorce process is like for the children. For some there are films available for the parents to view that feature these experts, with a few children commenting about how they feel. Recently, however, a new film (“Split”, by Ellen Bruno) has been released that has no adults on camera – just real children talking about the effects of their parents’ divorce on them. For half an hour, the audience hears the voice of children discuss their thoughts and feelings on the various phases of their divorce journey and how it affects them. During this 30 minute film you will hear the children talk about Families, Change, What Happened, Wishing, Moving On, Back and Forth, Two Homes, What Helps, Talking About It, and Life Goes On.
The website for the film calls it “A Film for Kids of Divorce (and their Parents)”. One reviewer on the website felt that seeing divorce through the eyes of children has “great power to influence parents and divorce professionals alike to do divorce better”. Kids going through their parents’ divorce may also benefit from watching it. Bruno says that her film is children talking from the heart about what it feels like to go through this experience, and that kids will listen to each other more attentively than to adults. Since almost half the children in the United States will experience their parents’ separation before the age of 16, there is a large audience for this type of film.
The children in the film (aged 6-12) also made color drawings illustrating aspects of their experience, which are turned into animated graphics intermixed with the children’s comments. Director of Animation, Gwen Gordon, says she hopes that children watching the film will know they are not alone in this situation, and that they will feel connected with others who have experienced the same things. They will hear kids like themselves expressing their pain and feelings of sadness and anger, and also sharing what has helped them through the experience.
There are common themes among the children’s comments, none that are surprising – they hate hearing their parents fight, they still hope their parents will get back together, and they often believe that somehow they are to blame for the divorce. But some of their insights are quite poignant. One girl describes divorce as “like something that you really love that breaks, and you can’t put it back together again”. A boy talks about his idea of a perfect family as “the mom and dad love each other and they eat pancakes every day”, but goes on to say, “But that will never happen in the world. No one’s perfect. Nothing is perfect.” Yet, the film has a hopeful tone, with the positive message that the kids will get through this and things do get better. This is a film that all parents should see together and then discuss how they want to show up during their divorce. They should ask themselves the question. If we can’t save our marriage do we want to save our children? As the one thing all parents has in common is the love for their children.
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The writer of this blog is not a lawyer and does not give legal advice. If you have legal questions please contact an attorney