Telling anyone about your separation can be difficult. However, telling your child that you’re leaving their other parent is one of the most difficult steps in any divorce. Knowing exactly what to say and when to say it can be very tricky. You’ll need to choose the location, day, and time with care, ensuring that you situate the event in a place where your child feels comfortable and safe.
Another point to consider is whether you’re going to tell your child about the separation when the other parent is present or not. For some people, it’s a good idea to present the news up-front with the other partner. On the other hand, if you feel that one parent won’t be able to keep their emotions in check, it may be difficult to take this route. You’ll need to ensure that you and the other parent are on the same page when you’re presenting the information to your child. Just because you’re getting a divorce doesn’t mean that you should give up on your united front.
Remember that children will be looking for insight and information from both parents, and you need to make sure that they’re getting the same story from both angles. Ensure that both you and your partner avoid talking about each other poorly, regardless of how you feel about the other parent at the time. This is your child’s mother or father, and they need to feel as though their relationship with their parents isn’t going to change going forward.
Address Your Child’s Concerns Quickly
Often, the first thing your child will want to know when they learn about your divorce, is how their lives are going to change. You need to be honest and straightforward with your child at this time, helping them to see that you’re going to do your best to give them a good relationship with both parents going forward. Maintain your united front by using the term “we” in your explanation and remember that your child needs to know that they’re not going to lose you or your partner due to the divorce.
Although you might want to stay strong for your child, it’s okay to show emotion. Often, it will be difficult to keep your emotions completely under wraps, but if you do feel as though you’re going to crumble, then you might need to take a moment to pull yourself together. Consider having a supportive family member present to help if you need them. Additionally, you should always give your child time to process their emotions too. Listen to your youngster and try to understand how they’re feeling. This process is going to require patience, and you’ll need to let your child talk without judgement or interruption.
Remember to reassure your child that they’re still loved by you and your partner, and nothing will change in the way that you both feel about them. They need to know that they still have two parents, regardless of who they’re living with. If it feels helpful to do so, you can tell your child that you still love your partner for giving you your family, but don’t give any false hope that you might get back together one day. Try to create a new normal for your child as soon as possible, and don’t dumb the conversation down. Make the conversation age-appropriate according to your child.
Discussing Divorce with Younger Children
Younger children are more likely to understand that you’re not happy, or you’re sad, than they are to understand not loving someone anymore. Tell them that Mummy or Daddy wasn’t happy anymore, and that’s the reason for living apart. Primary-school and younger children are generally more observant with the issues in the home, so they might appreciate you referencing some of the contextual information they’ve been aware of.
For instance, you could talk about how you and your partner have been arguing a lot lately because you no longer see eye to eye. You can address how the arguments are making everyone unhappy, and you think it’s a better idea for everyone to have some time apart as a result. If your children weren’t aware of any issues in your home up until this point, you can explain that you’ve been doing your best to protect your child from the problems that you’ve been having.
Remember, as children get older and enter the region of teenager and young adult, they’ll begin to see through the padding in your discussion to the heart of the issue. In this case, you’ll need to be more straightforward and provide more information. Just remember to be reasonable about the kind of information that you share. Talk to your child about the issue plainly and let them know how it’s going to affect them going forward.
If your child asks questions and you don’t know how to respond, be honest. Let them know that you’re still in the early stages of your separation or divorce, and you don’t know how everything is going to play out yet. However, it’s also important at this time to remind your child that you’re going to be transparent with them about the divorce going forward. They need to be aware that you’re going to give them information and honesty in the months or years to come.
Making Divorce Easier to Manage
The chances are that you’re not going to just drop the bomb that you and your partner are divorcing and leave it at that. You’ll want to address the issue again and be mindful of what your child is going through. One of the best things you can do at this time is maintain some semblance of a routine for your youngster’s benefit. Establish a new routine and try to keep your child’s typical schedule as consistent as possible. This will make it easier for your child to adjust.
Remember that your child will figure out the truth of the situation on their own in their own time. This means that you don’t have to convince your youngster that the other parent has done something wrong. If you try to make your child dislike the other parent because you think that they have wronged you in some way, then this could end up making your child resent you instead. Understand that talking badly about the other parent can work against you negatively. Your child needs to decide what kind of relationship they want with the other parent on their own terms.
Be open to learning throughout the process too. The chances are you’re not going to be an expert at this, so you’re going to have a few stumbling blocks along the way. You might be unsure what to say at times, and you may get upset and frustrated. It’s okay if you’re not perfect at this – no-one expects you to be.
You should, however, be aware of the changes that are happening in your child’s life as a result. Depression and grief can affect your children after a divorce. If your child begins to show signs of stress and isolation, then it might be a good idea to seek out help from a counsellor or an alternative specialist. Professional assistance can go a long way towards making the divorce procedure easier to handle for children and parents alike. Even if you handle the situation very well, it can be a good idea for a child to have an independent and unbiased professional involved so your child has somewhere that they can vent.
However, whatever you do, remember that you shouldn’t be using your child as your own personal counsellor. Your child isn’t there to be your therapist – they’re going through their own issues. You need to protect your little ones from the rollercoaster of emotions that you are experiencing as best as you can. Don’t share all the minute details but be as honest as you think you can be.
Dealing with Divorce and Children
Ultimately, explaining separation and divorce to your children isn’t easy, but it’s a process you need to come to terms with. Remember to tell your children that your separate is between you and your ex-spouse, and it’s not something that they need to get in the middle of. Children should never be encouraged to pick sides, as a healthy relationship with both parents is essential after a divorce takes place. Even if you’re unhappy with the other partner, allow your child to make their own decisions about how to view their mother or father.
Additionally, remember that it’s important to look after yourself during this period and be patient with yourself too. You shouldn’t expect too much of yourself and remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can for your child, even if you make mistakes sometimes. There’s no one-size-fits-all guide to addressing separation and divorce with children. Often, the best thing you can do is follow the best practices given above and learn as you go.View Pricing