Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coping with Crisis

On the positive side, there are some girls who emerge out of the divorced, mother-headed households as exceptionally resilient young women. It seems that some young women thrive on the increased responsibilities and challenges that they face in these families, and they develop warm and deeply affectionate ties with their mothers. Similar findings do not occur for boys.
-- Robert Hughes Jr., PhD

Our family has been living apart for almost three months now. It's not easy -- Boy #4 continues to ask, several times a day, "When is Daddy going to live here again?" -- but we're surviving. Google, however, does not seem at all sure that we should thrive. Ever again.

A quick Google search of "boys" and "divorce" tells me that:

Excuse me for not buying that bunch of baloney. My boys are hurting, to be sure. But more likely to react with anger, aggression and academic problems? That's boys in general. More likely to suffer depression? So are boys in general. As for losing connection and assuming blame -- doesn't that happen to all children of divorce?

Call me in denial, but I don't think that's impossible for boys to grow strong and healthy in the wake of a divorce. Challenging, yes. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's that people can overcome all kind of challenges.

So instead of subscribing to the gloom-and-doom, I'm going to teach my boys 9 Basic Rules to Make a Crisis Work for You, borrowed by Isolina Ricci's excellent book, Mom's House, Dad's House: Making Two Homes for Your Child:

1. Don't Go Through a Crisis Alone

2. Learn What's Going On

3. Look for What Works and What Doesn't

4. Care for Your Inner Self and Spiritual Life

5. Take Care of Your Body and Find Safe Ways to Blow Off Steam

6. Keep a Positive but Realistic Perspective

7. Increase Your Skills

8. Watch You Language

9. Keep Your Sense of Humor

I'll be re-visiting these rules over the next few weeks, because I'm convinced that separation or no separation, these are important life skills for boys. Why don't you try putting them into practice in your own life as well? We'll compare notes soon!


  1. Thanks for sharing these insights. I will pass along this post to a friend going through a painful divorce. Hang in there!

  2. Well said! I think that how well a child deals with divorce has more to do with how the *parents* deal with it. If the parents continue to be supportive and loving to the children, and at least polite to each other, then that goes a LONG way in helping the kids transition to their new lives.

  3. I don't buy it either:) Any kid can thrive, and any kid can fall, divorce or not. I don't know what the answer is, but being present with your kids, being honest, and always showing love, are certainly important. Oh, and finding healthy ways of getting out some of that anger and frustration can help too.

    I am confident you are doing what is best for all of you. ((HUGS))

  4. Good job being positive. Because when you clicked on the link with that quote? That had to suck...

  5. I'm with you. Your boys can certainly thrive, especially with a mom who's so dedicated to making sure they grow and learn from every experience. I know plenty of healthy, happy, well-adjusted men who are well-educated, productive and have good relationships with their moms and the other women and men in their lives - and had parents who were divorced when they were kids. Hang in there!