Talking to Your Children about Divorce and Separation |
By the time they are sixteen, around 28 percent of children born to married couples will have lived through the divorce of their parents. The separation and eventual end of a marriage can be a tough time for children as they worry about what will happen next. They may feel insecure about the changes that will happen in their lives as their family no longer lives together as a unit. Parents considering divorce often wonder if they should stay married until their children grow up and leave home so that they can be raised in a two parent household, or if it's better to divorce and live as two happy, secure individuals so that the children don't have to live with the stress and conflict that an unhappy marriage can create in the home. Unfortunately, no one can make this decision for you, and each family has to make an individual choice based on their unique dynamic.
If you and your partner decide to separate, there are a few things you can do to minimize the effects divorce will have on your children. However, keep in mind that there will be emotional effects and some turmoil on their part and you may need to consider therapy or family counseling.
Tips for Speaking to Your Children:
• Explain to them that the Legal separation between you and your partner was not caused by them. It is not their fault and they did nothing to make it happen. Remind your children that you and your partner both will always love them, and that they are important to both of you, no matter how you and your partner feel about one another.
• Make every attempt to keep the things in your children's lives the same. If possible, allow them to remain in the same house, the same school, or keep the same friends. Carrying on with the same daily activities, hobbies, and clubs allows them a familiarity that can be very soothing as they go through a difficult emotional time, and gives them an outlet for their emotions.
• Keep meeting for drop-offs and pickups and make it a routine. While this may be one of the only times you see your ex-partner, do your best to keep the interactions positive for your child's sake. Involving your children in adult conflicts or issues isn't a positive way to handle them and will only create strife for everyone.
• Legal Conflict and disagreement may seem impossible to prevent when going through a divorce, keeping children out of these conflicts as much as possible is the best solution. Avoid including them in the conflict, sending them back and forth with messages, and escalating their emotional issues, as this will only cause more stress in their lives.
• Separation and divorce are not simple processes. You and your children will both be sad throughout the legal process - this is to be expected. The best you can do is to make sure that your children don't blame themselves for your legal decisions. Work with them to establish the fact that you and your partner both love them unconditionally.
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