How to Tell Your Kids about Your Separation

When parents think about separating, the first thing that comes to mind is how children will take the news. Undoubtedly, the task at hand will be tough. Children can get very emotional when it comes to their parents’ divorce. Therefore, as a parent, you will need to ensure that you are there for your child emotionally.

For a child, a divorce means a complete change in family life. However, if you plan appropriately, the adverse effects of a separation on the children can be reduced.

Many parents find it very hard to reach out to their children during this time because they too are going through an emotional upheaval. While it is important for you to concentrate on your emotional issues, it is equally important to take care of your child to ensure that their delicate mental balance is not disturbed by the emotional trauma.

How Children React to Divorce

Children of different age groups react in a different way when it comes to divorce. Usually, very young children tend to cry more often. On the other hand, teenagers show signs of rebellion and can become short-tempered.

The reactions also differ according to gender and personality. While some children might react to divorce by becoming more violent in their behaviour, there are others who become completely reclusive and avoid any form of socialising whatsoever.

It is important for parents to observe changes in their child’s behaviour closely to understand how they can help their child. For example, observe if your child is displaying any behavioural changes at school or if your young child is displaying patterns of sleeplessness. All these reactions occur due to underlying feelings of anxiety and depression.

Depression and Anxiety

In all probability, your child will be concerned about his or her future living arrangements. Children feel very anxious when they do not know whom they will stay with and how their relationship with the non-resident parent will be affected.

Older children are usually good at hiding their feelings because they try to protect their parents by doing so. However, it is important for parents to understand that even if your older child does not clearly state his or her depression about divorce, make sure that you talk to your child openly so that you are able to gather what he or she is actually feeling.

It is common for children to feel depressed during this time because in a child’s mind their family is falling apart. After all, for a child, a family and family home means the world. While it is natural for every child to feel depressed, make sure that you try to get your child out of the depression as soon as you can.

Tips for Ensuring Your Child’s Well-being

  • When parents talk to their child about their divorce together, a child is able to see the shared sense of concern. Children feel that their parents are still willing to share the responsibility of their welfare when their parents talk to them together about what is going to happen and how things will change. By seeing their parents together, children are better able to understand that while their parents might not be a couple anymore, they are still going to be mom and dad.
  • While it is important for you to talk to your kids about divorce openly, it does not mean that you need to divulge all the unnecessary details. For example, your child does not need to know every detail about the kind of conflicts you and your partner have been having or details about an extramarital affair.
  • It helps when children are kept in their normal routine without making any major changes. For example, try not to change your child’s school or their neighbourhood unless absolutely necessary. Even if you have to bring about major changes, make sure that you do so gradually so that your child has adequate time to adjust to each change.
  • Many times, children assume that their parents’ divorce is somehow their fault. It is important that you assure your child that your decision to divorce has got nothing to do with their behaviour. In addition, make sure that you explain to your child that the decision to divorce is an adult decision and not influenced by what children say or do.
  • Your children will need constant reassurance from your end that you and your partner will continue to love and care for them even after the divorce. The non-resident parent will need to ensure that they maintain regular contact with their children after divorce.
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