Top Tips for Parents to Help their Children Whilst Going Through Separation & Divorce
29 October 2019 by Lisa O'Boyle
Going through divorce and separation is a very difficult time in your life. You may be dealing with complex emotions similar to grief and may be experiencing a lot of stress. Your children will face their own range of emotions which may be related to their general development, stresses in their own life and to their own experience of their parent’s divorce and separation.
Resolution, a Family Law organisation whose aim is to help families resolve issues in a constructive way, has drafted a useful guide called “Separation and Divorce: Helping parents to help children”. By reading the whole guide you will have a comprehensive insight into what emotions your children may be experiencing or behaviours your children may be displaying. It offers suggestions as to how to minimise any impact on your children of your separation and how to help them during this difficult time. Some of the guide’s contents can be summarised in 5 tips:
- Focus on the future and on your child’s welfare.
Separation is a highly emotional time and it may be tempting to blame each other, argue about the past and hurt the other. However you will have to continue to co-parent your children so it is important, to a certain extent, to preserve a relationship of trust.
Try thinking about the future and thinking practically. As difficult as it may be, try to detach yourself from your emotions and discuss matters in a business-like manner. Always be guided by what is in your child’s best interests.
- Help your child deal with feelings of anger or sadness.
Children often feel guilt and think that they are responsible for parents breaking up and it may help to let your child know that it is not their fault.
You could give your child a chance to share how they feel by having one to one time with you. Let your child know that it is ok to feel angry or sad but that certain ways of expressing anger or sadness are not ok e.g. being disrespectful, breaking things, harming others or self-harm.
Suggest alternative healthy ways of dealing with their anger or their sadness. For example, by stepping away from the situation, by talking to someone, by drawing or writing about their feelings, by exercising.
If you are concerned, seek support from your GP, the school and/or counselling.
- Try to maintain a routine and normal activities.
Predictability and routine helps your child feel safer. If their routine or activities will change as a result of the divorce, let your children how their life will change. For example, when they will spend time with each parent, what activities they will continue to take part in, how life will be different.
- If your child blames or rejects you, try not to take it personally and try to engage in a constructive dialogue. Similarly, if your child blames or rejects the other parent try to promote their relationship with the other parent.
Teenagers often have a binary outlook on the world and may view something as all right or all wrong. In the context of their parents divorce they may blame one parent for everything. You could support your child in seeing more than one perspective by engaging in positive and constructive dialogue.
Even though you may feel rejected, try to continue to maintain your relationship by letting your child know that you love them, by keeping in contact and by involving them in activities.
- Read resources, seek help from organisations and get legal advice.
For a useful list of resources and organisations see: http://www.resolution.org.uk/listLinks.asp?page_id=380
For a copy of the guide “Separation and Divorce: Helping parents to help children” see: http://www.resolution.org.uk/site_content_files/files/divorce_and_separation___november_2017_.pdf
For legal advice, contact us. We have an experienced team of family lawyers who are able to advise and assist you on the best possible approach to take – contact Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].