Educator and entrepreneur shares children’s perspectives

Who knows better the effects of divorce on children than the children who’ve experienced those effects?

A Grand Valley educator and entrepreneur has tapped into that perspective in producing a new DVD for parents going through divorce and the professionals who work with them.

Sue Polan

“Kids are so wise and they have so much important to say,” said Sue Polan, co-founder of Partners in Parenting.

The early success of the DVD has prompted Polan to consider producing other DVDs that explore such issues as serious illnesses, autism, foster care and domestic violence.

The first DVD, titled “What Parents Need to Know From Kids About Divorce,” offers a 19-minute compilation of interviews with children ages 4 to 18 talking about their experiences with their parents’ divorces.

Polan said the children talked about how much they hate the conflict between parents as well as their feelings of guilt and loneliness.They also talked about how parents should stay involved in their children’s lives and focus on their children’s needs.

“It was powerful,” Polan said. “The kids were so heartfelt in what they had to say.”

Polan developed the DVD as part of court-ordered classes she teaches for parents going through divorce. Polan said she was looking for an updated DVD she could present at the classes, but couldn’t find one. She decided to create her own.

Hours of videotaped interviews were edited to focus on several themes that offer universal messages. But at the same time, nothing was taken out of context, Polan said.

The DVD is particularly profound for parents who haven’t fully realized the effects of their divorce on their children, Polan said. “Something just hits them between the eyes.”

The DVD was completed just in time to market at a national convention in Denver for professionals who conduct court-ordered parenting classes. Polan said the feedback there was positive. “People were ecstatic.”

Polan said she’s now in the process of marketing the DVD on a wider basis to school and family counselors, divorce attorneys, family court judges and others.

In addition to the DVD on divorce, Polan said she’d like to produce a DVD with children talking about the effects of serious illnesses in their families involving parents or siblings. While a lot of attention and resources are devoted to those who are sick, the needs of healthy children sometimes are forgotten, she said.

Polan also is considering DVDs featuring children talking about siblings with autism and children talking about growing up in foster care or their experiences with domestic violence.

Polan brings to her endeavor 40 years of experience as a teacher and a counselor in public schools and private practice. She retired earlier this year after serving in her latest role as a counselor at West Middle School.

“Kids are my business,” she said.