Facts and figures

2009      Year study published

4 to 7     Age range of children in study: Average age 5.4

41            Number of children included in study: 22 boys and 19 girls

24%       Children made a family picture with parents drawn together

34%       Children that revealed ‘conflict damage’ in responses and drawings

41%       Children expressed a ‘reunion fantasy’ of their parents


Purpose of study

To gain insight into the 4-7 year-olds understanding of parental divorce.

Children were asked FIVE questions about divorce and the divorce process.

Each child was invited to draw a family picture.



Question #1.  What is 'divorce'?  What does ‘divorce’ mean?

“When parents don’t live together any more”

“They don’t like each other”

“Divorce has lots of anger and it causes hurt”

“Somebody gets married and not married anymore”

“Yelling together at each other”

“It starts with love, then you don’t live together, then you get unmarried, then you love other people, go back and back and back and forth” as the child stated the last phrase, he picked up a slinky from his own toy box and slowly stretch it, gesturing toward the playhouses on either side of him. Extended slinky “and then…you break” lets Slinky snap close and crash to the floor between the two houses.


Question #2.  What is a lawyer? What do they do?

“A lawyer is your boss. He tells you stuff you have to do. If not, he’ll fire you.”

“The judge is who decides who you really will live with. The attorney doesn’t know.”

“Lawyers help moms and dads get away from each other.”

“Judges and lawyers try to help parents get back together.


3.  What is a judge? What do they do?



Question #4.  What do you want lawyers or judges to know, to makedivorce easier or better for families and children?

“If mom and dad lived next to each other we could just walk over.”

“Say this to moms and dads: ‘Do you love each other?’ And then they have to say yes, and then give them some chances (not to divorce).”

“Please make it so they could try to get along.”

“Tell mom and dad to marry someone else. Two divorced people should’ve married someone else from the beginning.”

“I wish there was a law that judges could make so parents could get back together after they ‘get over it.’ Can divorce ever get undone?”


5.  If you were the judge, what would you say to your parents?

“I wish there was a law that judges could make so parents could get back together after they ‘get over it.’ Can divorce ever get undone?”

“If I were the judge. I would pick the mom?”




What do you want lawyers or judges to know, to make divorce easier or better for families and children?


Play themes

Play themes revealing thoughts and emotions

4.5 year-old boy created a drawing of his house with a magic treasure chest where all the family members popped out and were seated together around a table.

5-year-old boy stalled in drawing his picture because he felt he had to choose one parent. The picture he did draw included his dad and the child stated, “I’m smiling because I’m with my dad.”

5-year-old boy: Resided with his father and expressed “more time with mama”. In his play arranged all doll furniture in mom’s doll house and nothing for the father’s doll house.

6-year-old girl in drawing her picture of a family, she added her dad (to the picture ) and shouted ”I miss him so much!” she began hugging herself and saying over and over “I love you! I love you!”

6.5-year-old boy pushed the houses together and stated, “I wish my houses were like that (touching).” Then rearranged by putting one house of top of the other.

Play themes addressing traveling between homes

5-year-old girl used a toy Band-Aid to help the dolls “figure out where they belonged” “this “ [Band-Aid] tell you if you’re in the right house.”

“Back-and-forth makes me sick. I want to throw up-both ways.”

One stated a mantra during the play session: “too long a drive, too long a drive.”

One child focused on the travel process and took time to stuffing each play item in the toy vehicle and her pockets, and then “driving” all over the house-that as soon as the dolls arrived at “dads house,” it was time to go back to ”moms.”


Play themes showing aggression and violence

4- year-old female: arranged her houses and furniture then had an avalanche strike, killing everyone.

4-year-old child: revealed a fight between two daddy dolls and both were taken to jail by a policeman.

7-year-old girl stated “I never want to see my father again, except if he’s back with my mom. Then I won’t be angry at all.” When playing with the house and doll figures, she made efforts to “squishing” the dad to death.


“GET OVER IT”: PERSPECTIVES ON DIVORCE FROM YOUNG CHILDREN†Article first published online: 4 SEP 2009DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2009.01280.x

"Get Over It".  Children's Perspective on Divorce

.

2009...............Year study published

4 to 7..............Age range of children in study: Average age 5.4                                             

41.....................Number of children included in study: 22 boys and 19 girls

24%.................Children made a family picture  with  parents  drawn  together 

34%.................Children that revealed €˜conflict  damage€™ in responses and drawings

41%.................Children expressed a reunion fantasy€™ of their parents

 

Why was this study done?

To gain insight into the 4-7 year-olds understanding of parental divorce.  

 

What did they do?

 Children were asked questions about divorce and the divorce process.

 Each child was invited to draw a family picture.  

.

Here are the questions each child was asked and their answers

.

Question 1:  What is  divorce?  What does divorce mean?

Responses: 

"When parents don't live together any more."

"They don't like each other."

"Divorce has lots of anger and it causes hurt.€"

 "Somebody gets married and not married anymore."

"Yelling together at each other."

"It starts with love, then you don't live together, then you get unmarried, then you love other people, go back and back and back and forth",€ as the child stated the last phrase, he picked up a slinky from his own toy box and slowly stretch it, gesturing toward the playhouses on either side of him.  Extended slinky "and then you break" , lets Slinky snap close  and crash to the floor between the two houses.

.

Question 2: What is a lawyer? What is a judge?  What do they do?

Responses:

"A lawyer is your boss.  He tells you stuff you have to do.  If not, he'll fire you."

"The judge is who decides who you really will live with.  The attorney doesn't know."

€œ"Lawyers help moms and dads get away from each other."

"Judges and lawyers try to help parents get back together."

  

Question 3:   What do you want lawyers or judges to know, to make divorce easier or better for families and children?

Responses:

 "If mom and dad lived next to each other we could just walk over."€

"Say this to moms and dads:  Do you love each other? And then they have to say yes, and then give them some chances (not to divorce).€"

"Please make it so they could try to get along.€"

"Tell mom and dad to marry someone else.  Two divorced people should've married someone else from the beginning."€

"I wish there was a law that judges could make so parents could get back together after they ‘get over it.  Can divorce ever get undone?"

.

Question 4: If you were the judge, what would you say to your parents?

"I wish there was a law that judges could make so parents could get back together after they ‘get over it. Can divorce ever get undone?"

"€œIf I were the judge. I would pick the mom?"

.

.

Play Themes
Play themes revealing thoughts and emotions

4.5 year-old boy created a drawing of his house with a magic treasure chest where all the family members popped out and were seated together around a table.

5-year-old boy stalled in drawing his picture because he felt he had to choose one parent.  The picture he did draw included his dad and the child stated, "€œI'€™m smiling because I'€™m with my dad."

5-year-old boy: Resided with his father and expressed "more time with mama"€.  In his play arranged all doll furniture in mom's doll house and nothing for the father's doll house.

6-year-old girl in drawing her picture of a family, she added her dad  (to the picture ) and shouted "I miss him so much!"€ she began hugging herself and saying over and over "I love you! I love you!"

6.5-year-old boy pushed the houses together and stated, "I wish my houses were like that (touching)." Then rearranged by putting one house of top of the other.

.

Play themes addressing traveling between homes

5-year-old girl used a toy Band-Aid to help the dolls "figure out where they belonged"  "this €œ [Band-Aid] tell you if you'€™re in the right house."

"Back-and-forth makes me sick.  I want to throw up-both ways."€

One stated a mantra during the play session: "too long a drive, too long a drive."€

One child focused on the travel process and took time to stuffing each play item in the toy vehicle and her pockets, and then "€œdriving"€ all over the house-that as soon as the dolls arrived 'dads house'€ it was time to go back to €moms.

.

Play themes showing agression and violence

4- year-old female: arranged her houses and furniture then had an avalanche strike, killing everyone.

4-year-old child: revealed a fight between two daddy dolls and both were taken to jail by a policeman.

7-year-old girl stated "I never want to see my father again, except if he'€™s back with my mom.  Then I won'€™t be angry at all."  When playing with the house and doll figures, she made efforts to "squishing" the dad to death.

.

Comments

Children are the innocent victims of divorce!  This study reveals the thoughts and emotions of the young child when their parents divorce and there is parental conflict.  "From the mouths of babes!"

.

"GET OVER IT"€: PERSPECTIVES ON DIVORCE FROM YOUNG CHILDREN.  Article first published online: 4 SEP 2009 DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2009.01280.x

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5  Comments