When our eldest son was three years old, he once told me that there were two kinds of people in the world:

  1.  The friends you have already met
  2.  The friends you have not yet met

Another day he told me that “Once you love someone, you cannot un-love them. The nature of love is that it is never-ending!”

That same eldest son is now 16 years old. He and his first serious girlfriend broke up last week. They had been together for 17 months, almost a lifetime, at that age. It was her decision, not his, and he felt extremely rough for a few days. I figured I needed to do something to lift his spirits (and get his focus back on the imminent GCSE exams) so I agreed to a “Revision Party”, meaning he could invite friends over to study maths, physics and biology together – with party food thrown in. It was really “Getting Over The Girlfriend Party” but of course we couldn’t call it that.

The friends arrived and they actually did some serious work (as well as munching shocking amounts of crisps, chocolate and swigging KA). As a shamanic teacher I keep animal costumes around the house and at some point we had teenagers in bear suits playing  “four-pawed piano”. They were playing this piece by Yann Tiersen:

My son seemed his normal self after that but “it wasn’t over yet” from his point of view. He cornered me at 11 pm in the evening (his favourite time of day for talking to me about Life, though I often struggle to stay awake!)

Mum, I need to talk to you about marriage…

Well as you are single again maybe you don’t need to worry about it just yet?

Mum! I am trying to have a serious conversation with you!!


I want you and Dad to work harder on your marriage. The thing is I am a teenager and whatever happens in my life doesn’t affect my children  yet because I don’t have any. But I am worried about the way too many people around us seem to be splitting up and divorcing…. There is something I just cannot work out, about that.

What do you mean?

People obviously liked each other enough to fall in love, once upon a time. And then they loved each other enough to have children together… So why can’t they work on their marriages rather than destroying them?

Well… I think many people do exactly that but then discover that their differences are irreconcilable…. and then they go their own way. It is not great for children to live with parents who argue and fight the whole time.

Nah…..  but I still think it is a matter of EFFORT Mum! At the end of the day I think that if you are both determined to work hard, you can make a marriage work and it is SO MUCH BETTER FOR THE CHILDREN! The thought of meeting my Mum’s new boyfriend or Dad’s new baby with his girlfriend is intolerable Mum. Here is the bottom line as I see it: You can make it work if you really want to make it work because you made it work before!!

You can say this because you have been fortunate enough not to live through a divorce and new partners. Many children simply are not given that option.

Yeah…. I hear that Mum….  but do you promise that you and Dad will work even harder on your marriage please?

I promise will talk to Dad about this – can I now go and get some sleep, it is midnight? Basically it is already tomorrow!

I guess…..

So this week I discovered that the idealistic 3-year old lives on inside the stressed-out 16 year old whose physics teacher recently said: “If you have a life at this point, something is wrong!”  It is not easy being 16 and drowning in mock exams. It is not easy being dumped by your girlfriend. And it’s not easy to wrap your head around divorce… or marriage….

Imelda Almqvist
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) will be published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.