Separation advice for how to tell your children
“Firstly, and most importantly you and your partner need to make sure that children know they are loved, no matter what, and that there will always be a safe and loving environment for them, whatever happens. ”
The best separation advice
one can give is to focus on the feelings of your children.
Your kids will probably have felt some of the tension that you and your partner have been trying to hide from them for a while, so in all likelihood they may have suspect that something is not right, however young they are. Talking to them will help them understand that what is happening between mum and dad is not their fault. The feeling of blame is a common feeling amongst children of separated parents and it will, and if handled correctly will reassure them that they will not have to choose between you.
Deciding upon the best way to break the news of your separation to your children is something that should be discussed and agreed beforehand. Agree a time and a place when you are able to tell them together. Try to tell the truth about the fact that you’re separating without being critical of each other. The age of your children will determine what sort of explanation you give; the younger the child/children the more simple the explanation should be. However, older children may ask questions so be prepared to answer these. Remind your children that while parents don’t always get along, parents don’t stop loving their kids and that you will both still love them and be involved in their lives.
Throughout your separation, provide routines that both your ex and your kids can rely on. Consistency is key to helping them adjust to their new circumstances. Even though you’re all going through a period of upheaval, you need to continue to show your children that their ‘home’ or ‘homes’ are still places of stability and love. Be aware of your children’s emotional and physical needs, and make the effort to be a part of their lives. Say ‘I love you’ often and remind them that whatever happens you are always going to be there. Help your children to express their feelings, listen and encourage them to share how they feel with you. Let them be honest about how they feel about what has happened to them. Never let your children feel as if the separation was their fault.
If you need to have a difficult conversation with your partner about the children, don’t do it near them. This will only make your children feel as if the whole separation is their fault and this in turn may affect their behaviour at home and at school. Take your partner into another room to talk, and remember to listen; keep the focus on what is best for the children. Don’t fall into the trap of using your children as go-betweens for communication between you. This puts your children in a difficult situation and may force them to take sides, which unfair. If you can’t talk to your ex directly, try asking other family members to help out – grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. This can help provide some space for you and your partner and also another loving environment for your child/children.
Don’t forget you need support too, who can you talk to when you get upset? Or feel angry? Talk to friends or a separation advice
support group about your anger or sense of loss etc. Join an online forum dedicated to supporting separated parents or parents going through separation like the one at www.parentconnection.org.uk . This forum provides an opportunity for parents to talk about the way they are feeling, and to be supported by others going through similar circumstances. Your children may feel more secure if you and partner can be seen as trying to be amicable. Separating is hard but when there are children involved remember, in many ways it’s even harder for them.
On theParentConnection.org.uk parents can access separation advice for parents
through informative articles, short film clips, animations and interviews with children. There is also a forum which is moderated by trained family mediators, and the ‘listening room’ – a place where parents can chat online privately to helpers who have counselling and family mediation backgrounds. Using a service like this can mean the difference between feeling alone or feeling supported.
Author - Lynsey Calver
Tags - separation advice, separation support, separation
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