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"My mom and dad are broken,
I don't know what to do.
My mom and dad have come undone,
I need to find some glue.
I need a pot of parent glue
To stick them back together.
I need to patch their marriage up,
I need to make them better.
I need to stick their smiles back on,
I need to get them mended.
I need them to be mom and dad,
The way they were intended."
These poignant words by author Kes Gray, in the opening pages of a captivating children’s book illustrated by Lee Wildish (published by Barron’s Educational Series), could be the heart cry of many a child whose life is upended by divorce.
The boy in the story visits a glue shop to look for something to help put his parents back together, and the kind shopkeeper explains that some things in life can’t be fixed that way, and that the boy should look at ways families can still love each other while living apart.
I find this book a noble attempt to help children see their broken homes as being something other than awful, and the book is a delightful read. Yet it risks trivializing their inexplicable “loss of loved ones” as they have known them. Divorce is more than just a temporary adjustment, but has an ongoing, lifelong impact.
Julie Roach, a librarian who writes a review of “Mom and Dad Glue” ("Mum and Dad" in the UK) for the School Library Journal, notes that while the book may be helpful, “children suffering through real parental breakups may find these easy answers difficult and unfulfilling.”
Children are resilient, to be sure, and surrounded by loving caregivers, they can survive even this kind of family trauma, especially if it is due to a pattern of adultery, abuse, addiction, abandonment or anger (as in extreme fits of rage) on the part of one or both parents. In such cases they may even experience some relief.
But unlike a loss inflicted by death (except in the case of a suicide) the breakdown of a marriage is preventable. A child might ask, with good reason, "If my parents can love me in 'sickness and in health', and 'for better or for worse', why can't they do the same for each other?"
I'm reminded of one of the nursery rhymes our children liked having sung to them when they were young (and securely rocked and held all the while):
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all
Let's do all we can to keep children from having to endure these kinds of falls.
For more posts on divorce see: http://harvyoder.blogspot.com/search?q=divorce