Explaining Divorce or Separation to Children
Helping Children Cope During a Divorce
By: totanaliz on: Fri 14 of Sep, 2007 [10:26 UTC] (2900 reads)
To most divorcing parents, telling their children is the one task they dread more than anything, fearing anger, confusion and a possible backlash of emotion in what is already a very emotive time. There is also the thought that how they break the news will affect their children in the long term.
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So how do you tell your children the facts?
The desired outcome for this conversation and for the future is that children are reassured, comforted and have confidence in their parents as primary carers. When faced with the knowledge of separation, children will fear that one or both parents will leave their lives for ever. They may feel to blame for the changes that are occurring. They will almost certainly be confused about what lies ahead.
In order to pre-empt and lessen these very real fears, it is important to consider the following points before the conversation even takes place:
- Try to have both parents present when you discuss the separation with your child. This will reassure them that you are both in agreement over the new arrangements.
- Where possible, sit you child down and discuss this a few days before any separation takes place. This is not always possible, but it will allow the child time to come to terms with the changes and ask questions of both parents.
- It is better to have a pre-arranged timetable of visits. These arrangements will then seem more solid and organised to your child. Remivong any uncertainty will reassure your child that although they may be “losing” a parent, they know for sure when they will be seeing them again. You could create a calendar with your child so they can clearly see when the next visit is scheduled. Children find it hard to put time into context, if they can see it marked they can count the days to the next visit and also see continuity over the coming months.
- Explain that separation or divorce is a very grown-up concept and that they are not to blame in any way, it is a decision grown-ups have to make between themselves. The love that grown-ups have is completely different to the love we feel for our children, and that love will never change or disappear.
How we break this difficult news is an important part of the separation process, and the right words/actions can mean all the difference between a confused and fearful child, and one who has enough emotional knowledge and support to ensure they come through the experience as positively as they can.