So, you’ve decided to separate from your partner. No doubt one of your greatest concerns is how the separation will impact on your children. Keep in mind that children often blame themselves when their parents separate, they believe that because they have been disobedient or naughty that Mum and Dad have decided to go their separate ways. No matter what age the children are, a separation will affect them in some way, and some parents’ behaviour will have a negative impact on the children that could last for a long time.
These are some suggestions to keep in mind to help your children cope with a separation :
- Don’t involve the children in any discussions between you and your partner, or your discussions with anyone else. Children don’t need to be involved in the reasons for a separation, they need reassurance that the impact on their lives will be as little as possible, and that they will be spending time with both parents.
- Don’t denigrate your partner in front of your children, or in the hearing of your children. Kids love both of their parents, they don’t want to hear negative comments about one parent, from you or from anybody else, particularly other family members. Ensure that your family and friends are aware of this, and ask them to stop making derogatory comments in the hearing of the children.
- Don’t make comments to the children like “We’ll have to sell the house”, “I don’t know where we will live”, “I don’t think I can cope with this”. This may well be what you are thinking and worrying about, but such comments will only make your kids feel more unsafe and insecure. Reassure the children that things will remain much the same until you and your partner are able to work out something that will be in everyone’s best interests.
- Frequently reassure your children of your love and support, and try to keep their lives as normal as possible by keeping them involved in school and sporting activities, and spending time with their friends.
- Ensure that the children spend time with each parent. It is imperative that the children are not prevented from spending time with a parent, unless there is a real and genuine concern that the children may be at risk. Attempting to alienate the children for no good reason may negatively affect the children for the rest of their lives.
- Be civil with your former partner in the presence of the children. They will certainly sense any tension between you, but if you avoid non-confrontational behaviour, it will assist the children to better cope with the situation.
- Discuss the above strategy with your former partner and ensure that you both agree with, and follow these suggestions. Be consistent to ensure that your kids survive what will be a traumatic period for them.
Children are the innocent parties when their parents decide to separate. It is also a traumatic and sometimes devastating period for the parents. If you feel you are not coping and unable to give the support to the children that they need, then seek help quickly. There are a number of associations and private psychologists and counsellors who can help in these circumstances and can teach you strategies for assisting your children, and yourself, and some of these are listed on our Resources page.
Lyn Lucas is the owner of Online Divorce Lawyer. With over 20 years experience in family law Lyn empathises with couples going through a separation and a property settlement. Her focus with Online Divorce Lawyer is to reduce the pain and deliver excellent results in the process of a property settlement. With a negotiated fixed fee for this service, couples have certainty as to their legal costs. Visit Lyn’s site and opt in for a complimentary e-book “Guide to Saving Money with a Divorce Property Settlement”.