Divorce and separation are seen as two of life’s most stressful events and when children are involved extra care and attention needs to be placed on the impact this change in the family can have on them. Each child will react differently to news of their parents separating, while some will respond with understanding and acceptance, others may struggle with their emotions.
Helping children through divorce
The end of a relationship is emotional for all, however, children often feel like their lives have been turned upside down. Some will feel hurt, sadness, confusion or guilt. It is important to reassure your children that they are not to blame.
Clearly explaining what is happening and emphasise that your child is not to blame for the separation will help them better understand the situation, which in turn will help them with their emotional reaction. Communication is key and if possible it is best to tell your children about the separation together with a joined up approach and clear message so that there is less risk of confusion. Telling your children as early as possible also gives them time to process the news, ask questions and prepare.
What can you do to minimise stress on your children?
As a parent, you want the best for your children and to not cause them any harm or distress. Here are some tips to consider to help minimise stress on your children during divorce:
Don’t argue in front of your children, or involve them in adult disagreements and shelter them from conversations around your own stresses for example about your finances
Ensure your child feels at home at both parents’ houses. Have clothing and toys available at each location and stick to similar routines so that they don’t feel like they are ‘visiting’ one parent
Make sure your children feel loved. Reassure them that while you and your partner are no longer together, you will always be family
Encourage positive relationships with your ex-partner. While separations can be thwart with anger and frustration, your child deserves a happy and healthy relationship with both parents – don’t make them feel torn
Listen. When your child is ready to talk make sure that you are ready to listen. It’s important that your child’s feelings are validated and that any worries or concerns are addressed by both parents.
Finalising your separation
A common misconception is that divorces can only be resolved in Court. There are lots of cases where issues are resolved, sometimes very quickly, all without involving the Court. You may find that a family mediator is a great method of resolution. Resolving arrangements for children outside of the Court process reduces conflict and minimises the impact this change will have on the family, and most importantly your children.
It helps your family stay in control of arrangements for children and ensures that your children’s needs remain the central focus.
If you are contemplating a divorce, or you know your spouse is, it’s important to have legal advice and we would be very happy to have a free initial 30 minute call to discuss your needs.
Remember, sometimes two happy households can be better than one unhappy one, and there is nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that you both want what is best for your children.