Movies can be a wonderful way to connect to your kids as your family go through a divorce. The reason for this is because of a psychological relief called displacement. Let me explain.
When you directly ask your kids how they feel about the divorce, it’s sometimes difficult for them to explain. It’s too weird for them and the question is emotionally charged. If you ask, they may not answer, cry, go straight to their room, or say, “leave me alone.” Any of these responses means that they’re flooded with feeling and they can’t handle it.
A direct question is simply too much. Fortunately, there is a technique to handle this -it’s called displacement. With this, you can talk about a movie, book, or someone else’s life – use similar situations that aren’t your own as a proxy to talk about what they’re going through.
Good Divorce Movies:
In the 1998 classic Mrs. Doubtfire, Sally Fields files for divorce and gains custody of her three children. Faced with little choice, Robin Williams, the father, pretends to their nanny in order to spend time with his children. It is a hysterical and moving portrait of an American family dealing with divorce.
Liar Liar is a 1997 classic starring Jim Carrey who portrays a dishonest, newly divorced father who is terribly involved with his work (sounds familiar?) His child’s birthday wish is that he never lies anymore. This wish comes true, and sets off a series of events that leads to a warm reunion homecoming of sorts.
Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy, is a 2009 heart warmer in which he plays a divorced father who reconnects to his daughter after a separation with his wife. Apparently his daughter has special powers which allow him to do his job better. However, Murphy was too involved with work, creating a major strain in his relationship with his family. Murphy’s transition from a workaholic into a loving father sends an important message – both endearing and wonderful for young children.
These movies allow you to sit down and enjoy some quality time with your child. After the movie, you can talk and allow them to express their reactions to it. The very fact that you sat together and enjoyed the movie shows that they have internalized what is happening in your household.
It’s important for them to know that they’re not the only ones and they’ll get through it.