Here are two important facts you should know, ultimate truisms, like multiplication tables in 4th grade, memorize these two things and build from there in opposite directions:
1. Children are resilient
2. Children are easily traumatized
It's a conundrum, right????
Wait, I'm going to add a third:
VERY FEW CHILDREN ARE EVER STRUCK MUTE BY TRAUMA. If they were, the world would be a much quieter place, so please, whatever form of trauma you visit on your fictional children, try not to follow the trend of the day. Think, Formulate, Act.
In "Waiting Out the Storm" and "Made to Order Family", Skeeter is the bratty youngest of three, her father was a well-regarded man in a small community, but he was also a cheat and a child molester who killed himself. When Skeeter overheard her grandmother say she was "just like her father, trouble from the get-go", she believed it because she was five... by the time she turned seven in a later book, we see why this child has struggled with behavior and we've set her on a path for a better future, but I had to keep her in character, aging her and bringing her to a climactic behavior change, over the length of the stories. She had to mature as the adults fixed their problems, and that made this kid jump off the page and into the readers'... and the hero and heroine's... hearts.
(Click here to go read Part 1, then come back, pretty please) I said you had to assign your child a personality and then have that child (or children) react to things according to their personality. Real children will rarely act out of character unless they want an extra cookie or ice cream bar. In which case, break the rules because children are adorably devious when it comes to treats.
A. Grievous Loss: Kids react differently to grievous losses than adults do because their world is more immediate. Their concept of time might not be fully developed. That affects their reactions. They may carry things inside a VERY LONG TIME and then it bubbles out when reality hits them upside the head. Or they may get sad and stay on the outside of events such as: work, fun, playtime, choosing to not interact. Or they may be downright stinkin' angry, acting out, barreling into other kids, knocking people down, glaring and staring their way through life. The eager-to-please child will react to grief very differently than the passive-aggressive negative leader and the placid read-a-book-a-day scholar.
B. Fear: This works the same way. Kids can be frightened by things we can't even imagine because they're not real. Like Skeeter in the example above, she understood that her father was a bad man even though she didn't really know what he'd done... But just overhearing her maternal grandmother's cryptic comment told her she was doomed. Damned. Destined to be evil, like her father, and she believed it because everyone had always said, "You look just like your Daddy"...
She'd been unintentionally imprinted from birth and then had to live the imprint. If a child is afraid, they'll react differently than grown-ups facing the same fear because they measure fear differently. Nightmares... Not going outside... waiting at the bottom of the stairs for mom or dad to come back down... refusing to go upstairs or downstairs on their own... Won't go wait in the car. Won't go to sleep. Won't let the dog out, won't let the cat in. Depending on age, children handle fear with a deep-seeded dose of imagination. If their fear is real, the imagination can magnify it to ridiculous proportions.
C. Divorce: Well, this can go 4000 different ways and usually comes right back to how your protagonist parents have handled the situation. Remember a divorce is like the death of a marriage, but NO ONE GETS BURIED. Therefore the issues can go on and on and on and the child's reaction changes depending on the length of time (eventually, everyone should become more used to the new family dynamic, even if it's left some residual scarring).
1. A child used in a tug of war divorce might play both sides to his/her advantage.
2. A child caught in a nasty custody fight might fear the other parent based on nothing more than what they've heard/been led to believe.
3. A child of divorce whose second parent doesn't bother with him/her might feel abandoned, insignificant, unloved, responsible for the divorce, guilty or unlovable.
4. A child of divorce has to learn to deal with multiple variables: Split household, split funding, split allegiance, split time, stepmother, stepfather, step-siblings, half-siblings, new circumstances, new rules, multiple grandparents.
|Clearly this wedding/marriage is destined for Happy Ever After!!!|
World events can also affect children. Fear of storms, terror attacks, fire, flood... Young children don't necessarily understand ratios and likelihood, so what they hear can become what the THINK and with their God-given imagination, this can create issues of trust, faith and willingness to try new things.
In an older child (tween/teen) these things can change an outgoing kid into a questioning, untrusting, what's-the-use brat because there are a few years there where EVERYTHING IS ALL ABOUT THEM during adolescence. But isn't that what makes coming-of-age books so memorable?
Pepper me with questions, this is one of my favorite topics EVER, and I've got 2 copies of "Homestead Brides" the delightfully wonderful historical collection with THREE SEEKERS (me, Mary Connealy and Pam Hillman)
and... 2 copies of my absolutely adorable, wonderful Zondervan novella "All Dressed Up in Love", available on E-formats only and due out in 19 DAYS!!!! (And yes, I want you to read this and love this story because I love this story, and sure, feel free to offer sweet reviews on Amazon or CBD.com or B&N, wherever, because I hope, hope, hope you love this story. I can't deny how much fun I had writing it!)
Let me know in the comments if you have a preference, (Some of you have already won All Dressed Up in Love but I can't send the download until it releases!!!) and come on in... Coffee's on, and fresh chocolate chip cookies, a KID FAVORITE around the Blodgett/Herne house!
GRATUITOUS SNOW PICTURES FOR YOUSE!!! THIS IS JOSLYN...
AND THE OLD WAGON WHEEL...BURIED...
MARY RUTH AND MEGAN...
THIS PILE IS ABOUT 7 FT. TALL...... :)___________________________________________________________________
http://ruthloganherne.com and come play and pray with her on facebook!