- Posted January 7, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
Horror of Divorce - A child's perspective
Horror Of Divorce
If you’re going through the horror of divorce, use this guide to help your children survive.
One of the hardest tasks involved with breaking up is telling your children about your separation of divorce. Knowing what and what not to say can make this task a little easier. And it can help your children to come to terms with the break-up a little better. This is what you could say:
• Clarify what has happened – confirm that your partnership has ended. Fact: not knowing what’s happening can cause greater distress for some children than the facts of the matter. Wise: give specific reasons for the separation or divorce; as appropriate to the children’s ages. Example: “you’ll remember that Mummy and Daddy were always arguing.We were unhappy living together”.
And: make it clear that your children were not responsible for the separation, nor can they bring you back together. Because: some children feel that they’re responsible for everything that goes on around them. And they may thing they’ve caused the break-up and could feel guilty about it. Similar: they may believe they have the power to reunite you.
So: making it clear that this is a final decision that’s not been made because of them can help to prevent unnecessary heartache. Also: be ready to explain your reasons again, as and when necessary. Note: many children need to hear the reasons several times in order to come to terms with the separation. Important: be consistent with your comments every time.
• Reassure your children – do stress that you both still love them. How: ideally, both parents will be involved in this talk. Or: if you’re talking on your own, confirm that you and your partner will continue to love them, and be their parents. Vital: avoid blaming your partner for the break-up.
Sad: these (often instinctive) comments force children to take sides, and prolong unhappiness and bitterness. Unfortunate: this may suit a grieving partner, but doesn’t help their children to accept the situation.
Best: a co-operative relationship between parents most helps their children to move on. Preferable: both parents will remain actively involved with childcare arrangements on an ongoing basis. Research: usually, most children are happier if both parents retain some form of regular contact with them. Why: this helps to provide the reassurance that they’re still loved.
Motto: actions speak louder than words. Always: talk about what each parent will do, when, and how often. Talk through the practicalities. Again: your comments may need to be repeated regularly to reassure your children.
• Look to the future – confirm what’s going to happen now. Ideal: many children will be happier if their lives remain as settled and as consistent as possible.
So: if you can, talk about those areas that will remain unchanged. Examples: they’ll have the same home, school, friends, daily routine, etc. Tip: never assume that they’ll somehow realise these areas will stay the same.
Guideline: if you don’t tell them, they won’t know! And: if there are going to be significant changes, do talk these through with them too.
Remember: the uncertainty of not knowing can be more stressful for children that knowing what will happen next. Helpful: explain that you understand they may not be happy, but that you will do your best to make these changes as smooth as possible for them.
Advisable: encourage your children to share their feelings with you. Typical: anger, nervousness, sadness etc. Because: only by recognising these feelings can you discuss and help your children to come to terms with them.
Hint: identify and talk through some of the possible positive outcomes of these changes. Examples: moving to a new area will enable them to see more of Granny and Granddad, to make new friends, to go swimming more often etc.
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