• November 20, 2019

CENTERS' PIECE: The Resilient Child - Odessa American: Centers’ Piece

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CENTERS' PIECE: The Resilient Child

Center offering free counseling in wake of tragedy

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Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 1:00 am

One night while I was tucking my 6-year-old into bed he asked me, “why did you and my dad break up?”

Honestly, this caught me off guard. I was not sure if I should tell him the real story about why the marriage ended. In about 30 seconds or so these thoughts quickly ran through my mind: Why is he asking me this now? Do I make a great story that will preserve his innocence? I should just tell him what I really think … no, no I can’t do that.

Quick think of an answer. The truth … ok the truth.

I responded, “Well, sometimes moms and dads just cannot be married anymore for a lot of different reasons. Those reasons you don’t need to worry about right now because you’re still young. But I want you to know that we all love you very much and that doesn’t change ever.

He then said, I know who I am going to marry. And I said, “who?”

He said, I don’t know her name. I giggled and we moved on.

It was a good reminder of many things: how much kids pay attention to us adults, how fast they grow up, all the emotions they have, but most importantly how resilient kids can be.

My first marriage ended when he was just 14 months old. He does not have conscious memories of his father and I together, but he is beginning to understand how relationships work or don’t work.

I believe it is important to be honest with our children about life and answer questions that they may have. One reminder is to always take in account the age the child is. Give an appropriate answer that meets the child’s developmental stage.

For example, it could be harmful to share too many details about an ended marriage but also equally as harmful to give a fictitious story to “protect” the child.

If your family has gone through a challenging situation such as a divorce or a trauma it could be helpful to role play with another trusted adult in how you might answer some of the tougher conversations.

Regardless of if you’re caught off guard or not, be as truthful as you can be. Keep an open line of communication with your child by offering support and affirmations. Your child is strong and can adjust to very hard circumstances.

Allow the child to feel the not so good feelings, as long as they have an established place of security and support. You will see the child grow to be more resilient than you may have imagined. If you have any concerns that your child may need some extra support in whatever life challenges  they may face, please contact us here at Centers for Children and Families.

Ana Guerrero is a licensed professional counselor at Centers for Children and Families in the Midland office.

Odessa, TX

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