Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Hello Mrs. Bluth,

My name is Chezky, it’s not my real name but only for this letter. My older sister, Malky, (also not her real name) says we shouldn’t use our real names so that people know who we are. I don’t understand why that is or why it matters but she won’t help me write this letter to you if we don’t. I heard that you help lots of people with problems, when I was at my aunt’s house, so I asked my sister to write what I’m saying and send it to you. Do you help little kids too? I’m hoping you will at least tell me how to stop feeling so sad. Please tell me how I can do that, because I am seven years old and I don’t like being me anymore.

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I used to be happy, I guess, except for when my sisters picked on me because I am the youngest. But I knew that I could always go to Mommy or Tatty and they would help me out. I can’t do that anymore. I always thought I’d grow up to be like Tatty. He always knew what to do when we had a problem, but he doesn’t seem to know how to help himself and he is not home a lot of the time. Mommy is sick and she cries all the time now. My sisters don’t want me to bother her so they sort of take over what Mommy used to do for me. I couldn’t understand where my old life went, why everyone was yelling at each other and so many doors slammed shut. I don’t know why or what happened to my family that they don’t like each other anymore.

Yesterday Tatty picked me up from yeshiva. He almost never did that, only when no one else could, he would leave his work early to come and get me. I felt really scared, I don’t know exactly why. Afraid that something terrible has happened, like when Zaidy died. I love my tatty so much, but I was still so afraid. He bought me pizza and we sat eating for a long time. He finally looked at me and I could see he was just as afraid as me. That’s when he told me that he wasn’t going to live with us anymore, but we would still get to spend time and some Shabbosim/Yomim Tovim together, but in a different house. He would be living in a different house from where the family is living. I felt really sick, like I was going to throw up, but Tatty grabbed me and hugged me and we both cried. I even forgot to ask him why he had to live in another house.

When I got home, Mommy was in her room. Malky was in charge of taking care of the kids when we got home from school, something Mommy used to do. She saw I had been crying and when she asked me why, I told her what Tatty had told me and that I was sad because our family was broken. Malky is a good big sister, not like my other sisters. She is a lot like Mommy is when I’m upset, so she hugged me until I stopped crying and explained that we all still love each other but Mommy and Tatty can’t live together because they get into fights and they get angry at each other a lot. She says I’m too young to understand and that there are lots of kids whose families don’t live together so I shouldn’t feel sad. She says that I’ll understand better when I’m older, how people can live apart and still love each other. That Mommy and Tatty just couldn’t get along, even though they loved each other, they didn’t like each other most of the time. All this made me more confused than I was before.

Mrs. Bluth, please help me understand how I should not feel sad, like I am broken into lots of pieces, like Humpty Dumpty. I don’t think I will ever be happy again and it doesn’t help me one bit knowing there are other kids who are feeling just as sad and broken as me! Please tell me how I can make us all be like we were before, when we lived all together in our house and nothing was wrong. Please tell me what I can do to make it like before when I was not sad. If you only know how to help big people, I’m sorry for bothering you, but thank you for listening.

 

Dear “Chezky,”

Your letter broke my heart and I deeply felt your sadness. Your parents are just as sad as you are, that their lives together became so difficult that they could not find a way to overcome their differences. Sometimes, that happens, where mother lives in one house and father in another, and life takes on a different normalcy where everyone can love each other but not in the same place at the same time.

I don’t know your parents or the circumstances for what led up to their separation/divorce, but I do know that sometimes this is for the best and that the family becomes closer because there is less fighting and arguing. I know this is hard for you to understand, sometimes even I have trouble understanding how two people who loved each other enough to get married and have children, develop all these problems that cause them to separate. But I understand the children, sometimes more than the adults. I understand the pain and the fear of suddenly having this giant hole rip into your life when you did nothing to make it happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening. That is the very saddest part of it all, because now all you have left to do is fix yourself.

And I know you will. In time, the sadness will settle into acceptance, and as you grow older and see that you did not lose the love and support of your parents because they don’t live under one roof, you will no longer feel this great sadness. You may actually see that it was for the best. But you gave me a very special opportunity to speak to the mommys and tottys out there who are unhappy with each other. I want them to read your letter and understand that it isn’t all about them! That there are little people who are so sad, afraid and confused by how they are behaving towards each other.

I want to tell all those mothers and fathers that before they take that drastic step of breaking up the family, to first go for counseling to see how their marriage can be saved and if it can be saved. So take heart “Chezky,” you did a very special thing today, and you might have even saved some kids the sadness that you are going through because we were able to show parents how their ‘kinderlach’ are feeling and the helplessness they encounter when parents separate, and perhaps they will go for counseling to get help and clarity that breaking up can be replaced with making up.

Grow up strong and happy, my little friend, just know that you will be a great young man one day, just based on the wisdom and good heart I see in you now. Always know that I will help anyone who reaches out to me to the very best of my ability, no matter how young or how old that person may be. I hope you will let me know how you’re doing from time to time, because I’m your newest friend and friends look after each other.

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