Children of all ages can find their parent’s separation and divorce difficult. This can also apply to adult children. This is not just at the time of separation, but also on an on-going basis.
Assisting your children through divorce
Children generally do not like change and they do not like their Mum and Dad, not to be getting on.
Divorce and separation gives rise to a lots of uncertainty. As her parents struggle to make sense of their own future and work out their financial arrangements, there is even more uncertainty for their children.
Am I going to be able to continue to live in my home?
When I going to see mum or dad?
Will I still be able to go to the same school?
Will I lose touch with my friends?
What is going to happen to the family pet?
Did something I do cause the problems between mum and dad?
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Very often the situation seems out of control for the adults. But at least the adults are able to make decisions and have a say in the outcome. The children. The situation between the parents and its implications really is out of their control.
To make things worse, parents can become stuck in arguments to such an extent that they lose sight of how things are for their children. Even worse, parents can try and draw their children into adult disputes by asking them to take sides. The response of children is often to say what they think the adult wants them to say, in order to please them.
Giving a joint message to children
The best thing that parents can do is to try and agree a joint message that could be given to their children about how the relationship ended, how the children were not in any way to blame for has happened, how the parents are working together to make a future plans, and how the children are loved by both parents and that they should not worry.
Sadly, it is not always possible to achieve this joint message, and nor is it possible for parents to keep arguments away from their children.
Help at school?
In order to help the children deal with the situation as best they can, you may find it helpful to inform the head teachers at their schools of the home situation, to ensure that extra support is given to the children if they require it. I have found that head teachers in this situation are generally very helpful and the awareness of the relevant school staff can make a great deal of difference to how a child copes with the inevitable emotional upheaval of parental separation.
Access to counselling
It may also be possible to access counselling (if appropriate) via the school nurse or family GP.
It’s important that parents do not allow their children to bottle up negative feelings and that they encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, and provide reassurance to them.
You may have questions such as: How to help a child deal with divorce? How to prepare your child for divorce? Helping children cope with divorce? We have created an FAQ’s page that can help answer those questions.