My six-year-old son, Jordan, is a budding sportsman and athlete. However, doing anything artistically creative at school is not his strong suit. Jordan doesn’t “do” art and rarely brings home any creations for my refrigerator. So the other day I was pleasantly surprised when he pulled a brightly coloured red and pink paper heart from his school bag.
“I cut and coloured this myself, Mom.”
“I love it,” I gushed. “Thank you so much for making this for me.” As the word “me” slid over my presumptuous lips, I read the words across the heart: “I love you, Dad” in black, bold Magic Marker.
Circumstances prevent Jordan from seeing his father more than a few times a year. Our divorce was a painful one.
In a divorced family, a child can naïvely conclude that the breakdown in his parents’ relationship was somehow his fault and he was the reason for the pain. Caring for a child of divorce requires sensitivity, especially where the other parent is concerned.
Nurturing a child after a divorce includes respecting the love and affection the child has for the other parent, but it’s not always easy, especially when he is less present in the child’s life. The estranged spouse is equally loved by the child but is often more openly appreciated. A single parent must understand and accept her child’s feelings and deny her own, so the child feels no unnecessary guilt or caught in the middle.
I held the paper heart in my hand – the only piece of artwork Jordan had shown me for months. I really wanted it to be for me and to adorn my refrigerator.
“You did a great job, Jordan. Daddy is going to love it.” I tucked it carefully in a cupboard, and Jordan beamed.
In that moment, I understood. Of course Jordan loves me. I’m the one he eats dinner with every night, cuddles with when he’s cold, confides in when he’s upset and looks to for praise when he’s met a challenge. I’m confident of the love we share every day. I don’t need anything on my refrigerator to prove it.