Hello all, and welcome to yet another blog post from me! This one is a bit of a tough topic, discussing the transition from parenting as a couple to single parenting. I was reminded during our Father’s Day Pram Jam last week that not all families are happily co-habiting, and it made me really conscious of the language that I was using during the session and in my chats with the toddlers at the end of the bubble blowing. I didn’t want to dwell on things or upset anyone who was already feeling sensitive during a difficult time, so I tried to keep things light-hearted, but I must admit, I struggled a bit. I can only imagine how the mums and dads experiencing these changes first hand are feeling!
Identifying with characters in books makes transitions easier for children.
Divorce is a pretty abstract topic for little babies, but toddlers are rather savvy when it comes to changes. As such, any disruption to the status quo at home can have a massive impact on how our toddlers interact and respond with us. The changes that come about when a relationship breaks down are invariably going to flow on to our babies, initially from the shock of having one parent move out of the family home to (eventually) the difficulty of overnight visits without their primary carer.
With this in mind, here is a small selection of books that I’ve come across in our collection, with hopes that reading them with your child may assist to make these experiences less scary.
Mum and Dad glue / Written by Kes Gray ; illustrated by Lee Wildish.
Two homes /Written by Claire Masurel.
Monday, Wednesday, and every other weekend / Written by Karen Stanton.
These first three are great for introducing the idea of two homes to older toddlers, but they’re also each very thoughtfully written and beautifully illustrated, and well worth reading together at bedtime, even to introduce children to the idea of their various friends’ family dynamics.
My mummy and me / Written by Tina Macnaughton.
I’ll love you always Written by Mark Sperring ; illustrated by Alison Brown
My daddy and me Written by Tina Macnaughton.
And these three are my favourites for reading over and over again, reminding babies that they’re always loved, no matter what, and that Mum and Dad are thinking of them even if they are not together. ‘My Daddy and Me’ and ‘My Mummy and Me’ are both board books which I would love to have in my personal collection… they’re really rather perfect, with slightly fuzzy illustrations and reassuring text. I’ll love you always has this one perfect line at the end: “I’ll love you forever, not one second less. For that is what mummies and daddies do best.” Ultimately, what better message could there be for our babies? No matter what turmoil we’re going through in our adult relationships, our love for our children never falters.
There are a wide range of resources available for separated, divorced or single parents and non traditional families across the Cockburn Libraries family and parenting collection. This is one that I thought looked really interesting, partly because it has been written by a divorced couple together – I cannot imagine writing a book in conjunction with my partner, even while we’re happily together, so props the these authors!
Co-parenting 101 : helping your kids thrive in two households after divorce Written by Deesha Philyaw and Michael D. Thomas
The importance of a stable home
Children can thrive in a huge variety of home settings. The most important thing, no matter who they’re living with/how many times they shift between carers each week, is that they know that they’re secure and loved in their home(s). And so, here’s a Play School classic to encourage some silly play together:
Well, that’s it from me on this tricky topic – inspired by a few of our regular families and a general ‘wishing I knew what to say’ on the difficult days. Hope to see everyone at a Storytime or Pram Jam sessions soon.