There’s a lot of children’s adoption books on the market which explain the process. They use engaging characters to explain to young children why it sometimes isn’t safe them to stay with their birth parents. And explain the role of adults like social workers and foster families.
Finding a book that explains to young children what domestic violence and neglect are, isn’t so easy. And let’s face it, in an ideal world it’s not a topic we’d want our children to have to learn about. But the sad reality is many adopted children experience trauma because of violence between their birth parents, and neglect as a result of that.
About the author
Mikenda Plant is a Family and Systemic Psychotherapist. She specialises in Attachment Focused Family Therapy, also known as known as Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). It’s a treatment for adopted and looked after children who’ve experienced trauma and are struggling to develop secure relationships with their parents and carers.
She’s writing a series of books to help children understand how challenging life experiences can shape the way they understand themselves and the world around them. I reviewed Mikenda’s first book “Tippy Moffle’s Mirror” last year. The book introduced the beautiful Moffle characters, who show how they’re feeling, by the colour in their fur.
Billy Moffle’s Straight Lines
Her second book “Billy Moffle’s Straight Lines” looks in more detail at why it’s sometimes not safe for children to stay at home. And the longer term impact the behaviours they’ve seen has on them. Mikenda asked me to review the book and kindly gifted me a paperback copy so I could read it before it was published.
“Billy Moffle’s Straight Lines” explains domestic violence and neglect in a way that’s easy for children to understand. It shows the impact feeling scared of who you live with can have. And also how that feeling can affect how you manage other things. In this story, Billy’s tummy mummy, Daisy, isn’t able to give him the care and love he needs, because all her focus is on making her boyfriend happy so that she doesn’t feel so afraid.
The story looks at why this behaviour doesn’t keep Billy safe. And what happens when a child has to leave that situation and live with a new family. When he’s with his new family, it takes Billy a long time to realise that he’s safe, and that his new mummy and daddy won’t leave him to look after himself, like Daisy did. He spent a lot of time tidying and keeping everything straight as he worried if he didn’t, his new daddy would get angry with him
Conversations with my daughter
When I read the book with our eight-year-old, she asked a lot of questions about why Daisy didn’t feel safe and why she was trying to please her boyfriend. That led to a conversation about shouting. As much as I’d like to say that we don’t ever shout in our house, we do. We’re human and sometimes our anger and frustration comes out in shouting.
Our daughter said she doesn’t like it when we shout, and interestingly, she gets frightened when her anger makes her shout. She said she sometimes feels like she doesn’t know how to control it. But knows we’ll help her to feel calm again, when she’s ready to let us.
We talked about anger being an emotion that we all experience from time to time. But for Billy, the anger from his mum’s boyfriend, made him and his tummy mummy change their behaviour to try and please him.
Using colour to represent emotions
The thing I love most about Mikenda’s books, is the way they’re so full of colour. She uses colour to show different emotions which is a great way to get children to understand feeling lots of different ways, is normal. I asked our daughter what colour she’d use to describe feeling happy and she said yellow because it’s bright. She said anger would be black and love would be red.
“Billy Moffle’s Stright Lines” is a great tool to use to help children understand adoption. I’d recommend it to all parents, regardless of whether they’re reading it to birth, adopted or step children.
Buy the book
“Billy Moffle’s Straight Lines” is available to buy now from Waterstones or from Mikenda’s website. As an Waterstones Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you click on the link to the book and then buy it, I get paid a fee from Waterstones.