Ep 48: Children and Divorce with Jessica Leger, LCSW, RPT

Children are much more adaptable than is often expected of them, but they are also aware of much more than their parents may think. Jessica Leger, clinical social worker, play therapist, and our guest on today’s show, describes children as having the capacity to be “emotional sponges.” This means that it is vital that parents, whether they are getting divorced or going through a tough time in their marriage, ensure that their children are protected from the brunt of the adult issues being experienced. As a divorced parent herself, and through her work with many children of divorced parents, Jessica has valuable advice for how parents can soften the blow of separation for their children. That being said, there are many circumstances where children will need additional support, and Jessica shares the types of behaviors which signal that a child is not coping well with the changes, and the kind of help they may require.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The number of children on Jessica’s caseload who are impacted by divorce.
  • How Jessica’s children handled her divorce.
  • Children are aware of more than parents may think.
  • Jessica explains the importance of being careful of the non-verbal cues parents use in relation to their child’s other parent.
  • Ways to tell if a child is struggling with their parents’ divorce, and where to get additional support for them.
  • Something that Jessica recommends parents going through a divorce say to their children.
  • Why Jessica encourages parents not to share with their children the reason that they are getting divorced.
  • Examples of how parents can model emotion regulation skills for their children.
  • Games which help children learn how to regulate their emotions.
  • Jessica explains how parents can prepare their children for what they can expect from the divorce.
  • How to navigate children’s hopes of their parents getting back together.
  • When divorced parents should introduce their children to their new significant other.
  • The value of toys as a therapeutic tool for children.
  • Resources that Jessica recommends for families going through a divorce, including the New Beginnings Program that she runs.
  • Jessica’s message of hope regarding children of divorced parents.

Tweetables:

“A lot of kids are emotional sponges. They know whenever people are upset.” — Jessica Leger [0:03:08]

“In addition to the story, in addition to keeping kids out of the middle, is to let them know what to expect.” — Jessica Leger [0:17:58]

“You want to give [children] permission to talk to you about whatever, and to be heard.” — Jessica Leger [0:22:10]

“Kids don’t just come in and sit and express themselves like us adults do. They use their toys and they do what they need to do with the toys, whether it be with doll house figures or puppets or drawing or books.” — Jessica Leger [0:26:46]

“Kids are going to be okay. They really will. You give them a developmentally appropriate story, you stay consistent, open to communication and working on your relationship with your child, they’re going to be fine.” — Jessica Leger [0:34:48]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leger Counseling

Jessica Leger on LinkedIn

Dinosaurs Divorce

New Beginnings Program

Mosaics of Mercy

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