What happens next? Information for kids about separation and divorce

Chapter Two: Coming up with a plan for you

Dad gives Randy a tough time

Every Tuesday and Thursday night during the winter, Randy’s dad took him to hockey. His dad never talked very much.

But if Randy didn’t do well on the ice, his dad would shoot insults at him faster than a hockey puck. Randy would feel upset.

When he got home, he couldn’t wait to get out of the car. He’d listen to his dad’s few words to him and then bang his bedroom door shut. Then silence. One night after this happened Randy realized that he hadn’t heard his mom laugh or talk much for months.

A couple of weeks later, Randy’s mom told him that she was leaving his father and that they would move in with her parents, his grandparents. He was going to miss his dad but he wouldn’t miss the insults.

He packed his suitcase, wondering what would happen to Tank, his cat. His dad always forgot to feed him. So, he took the cat with him to his grandparents’ house.

Randy’s mom told him that she and his father would start going to something called mediation* to try and make their separation as easy as possible for Randy. For the next three months, they saw someone who does mediation. Randy went to see the mediator once to explain how he saw things and how he felt about everything that was happening.

After a few weeks of mediation, Randy’s dad started taking him to hockey again. Things started going better. If Randy didn’t make the goal, his father didn’t call Randy names. Randy started enjoying his time with his dad again.

What's mediation?

Why are Randy's parents going to mediation? What are they hoping to do?

If your parents can't agree on anything without arguing, they may go to mediation instead of going to court or after they've been to court once. Their lawyers or the judge may suggest they do this.

Mediation may help your parents talk to each other better and make better decisions. But what about you? You probably won't go into the sessions with your parents, but you can share your feelings and wishes with them. Sometimes, arrangements will be made for you to talk with the mediator about how you see things.

If mediation doesn't work, your parents will probably have to go to court to get a judge to make important decisions.

Mom leaves dad; everyone gets help

After Joey and Tasha’s mom left home suddenly, both children had trouble sleeping. Their dad called a counsellor and asked her to see the children. Their dad told the counsellor that he and his wife had split up. The counsellor agreed to see the two kids and arranged to see their dad as well. The counsellor also asked to see their mom to get the whole picture. After the counsellor met with each parent, they agreed to work with her to help figure out what sort of parenting arrangement would work best for the children.

In the sessions, the counsellor asked Joey what he liked to do after school and so he talked about his music. She asked him if he was sleeping well and if he was eating properly. "Dad’s a good cook; he’s the best but I miss my mom’s cookies," he told her. "Every year, she made them at Christmas. What’s going to happen at Christmas now? Will we see mom? I miss her."

"When I meet with your parents, I’ll explain how much you miss your mom and suggest you see her very soon," the counsellor promised him.

The counsellor met with the parents soon after. She suggested that Joey and Tasha live with their dad during the week and stay with their mom every other weekend. The parents agreed. They went to their lawyers who wrote up a consent order* for a judge to review. Now that there is a plan in place, Joey and Tasha are finding everything much better.

What's the difference between a train and a teacher?

Answer: The teacher says "spit your gum out" and the train says "choochoo".

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