Getting Yourself Together When Your Family Comes Apart

Getting Yourself Together When Your Family Comes Apart


Coping with Family Changes

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Separation, divorce, death, re-marriage, incarceration, and relocation…

These life events change families and often create challenges or obstacles for the children involved. Includes a family changes survey, a read aloud story, 21 reproducible student activities and handouts. Helpful parent articles and reference material complete this “must have” book for all helpers of children.


Note from the author, Janet Bender:

Change is an inevitable part of life. Coping with life’s difficult changes can be somewhat like taking lemons and making lemonade.

Ironically, a divorce in my own life led me back to graduate school where I studied to become a school counselor. Since that time, my heart has been touched by hundreds of children and youth struggling to put the scattered pieces of their lives back together in response to family changes beyond their control. Separation, divorce, incarceration, death, re-marriage and relocation through moving or military deployment are a few of the life events that change families and often create challenges or obstacles for the children involved. This book focuses primarily on parental loss through a separation or divorce, but may be adapted to other situations in which children are dealing with feelings of loss or abandonment.

Counselors and other caring adults may use this resource to help children share their thoughts and feelings about the changes in their families. An introductory student survey assesses the nature of the child’s family changes. Next there is a read-aloud storybook which compares a family to a jigsaw puzzle with many interlocking pieces. When the pieces come apart or a piece is missing for some reason, children often experience grief symptoms.

After reading and discussing the storybook with the child, the facilitator may choose from twenty-one reproducible student activities that are designed to help children move through the five stages of the grief process and adjust to their new circumstances. I have provided more activities in the denial and anger stages than in the bargaining, depression and acceptance stages because, in my experience as a school counselor, I found the majority of students struggling through the anger and denial stages. Additionally, children who get stuck in the depression/sadness stage may need professional help beyond this resource.

The final section (Appendix) contains research, resources and helpful handouts for teachers, parents or other caregivers.

It is my hope that together we can help struggling children build a happy, although different, life within their new family structure.


Author: Janet Bender
Audience: Elementary (K-5)
Grade Level: 2-6
Format: Paperback
Page Number: 50
ISBN: 9781931636285
Publisher: National Center for Youth Issues
Release Date: May 10, 2004
Language: English