Gemma HopeChildren depend on their family unit for stability and support. If that unit is to be changed as a result of divorce then careful consideration needs to be given as to how that can be managed to limit any detrimental impact on the children. In this blog we explore some top tips to minimise the impact a divorce may have on the children involved:

Telling the children

If possible, tell the children together about the decision to separate. Despite the separation try to show unity so far as parenting is concerned. Joint explanations that are appropriate for their age and level of understanding can help. You need to be clear that they are not in anyway responsible; that you both still love them and will both continue to be their parents.

Allow children to express emotions

They may feel sad or angry, they may go into denial or become withdrawn. Their own characteristics will have an impact on how they deal with the separation. You need to ensure that they have an opportunity to express themselves. It’s important to remember that a concerning reaction at the point of separation does not necessarily mean the children will suffer long term effects.

Support from the wider family

The children may have good bonds with uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents. It is important to try and maintain these relationships to limit any more feelings of loss at this difficult time. Extended family members may also be able to provide the children with a much-needed shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to about how they are feeling.

Quality time with parents

It is important for children to have good quality time with both parents. This helps to reassure them that their relationship with both parents will continue despite the divorce. It is important that if you are scheduled to be spending time with your children that you don’t let them down – ensure you turn up and try not to change arrangements, so as not to add to any feelings of rejection or abandonment.

Manage conflict

It is not necessarily the conflict itself that can damage children, but the way in which it is handled. Set positive examples for your children by showing them that conflict can be resolved in a constructive way through discussion and a willingness to find solutions.

Be respectful of the other parent

You both need to give the children permission that it is OK for them to love both of you, so they don’t feel as though they have to take sides. Children should feel comfortable talking about their other parent in front of you and not be afraid that this will upset you. Don’t talk negatively about the other parent in front of the children as this can impact on the children’s sense of identity and self esteem.

Look after yourself

Your children need you more than ever during this time. You however may be feeling completely drained emotionally. You need to ensure that you are looking after yourself, so you can in turn be there to look after your children.

Importance of external support

You shouldn’t underestimate the impact a divorce can have on you, and your children, emotionally if it is not handled properly. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about seeking professional support. A family consultant, mediator or lawyer who is a member of Resolution will be a good first port of call. They can provide you with an overview of the process options available and help signpost you to other support services to assist you.

If you would like to talk to us to see how we can help you please get in touch with a member of our team.

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