Helping Children Deal with Separation

Separation and children

If you have experienced relationship breakdown, you will know how hard it can be. For a child, experiencing their parents separating can be equally  upsetting and confusing.  As family lawyers, sadly we see situations every day where children are struggling to cope with their parents’ divorce.  What can parents do to help?

The most important thing for children to know is that both their parents love them and that will not change just because they are not together anymore.

For almost every child, it will be the case that they will be happier now and in the future if they have had the benefit of a positive relationship with both of their parents. Parents can help with this by doing all they can to maintain a respectful relationship with the other parent.

Telling your child about your separation together can be a good place to start. This should reassure your child that you will still work together as parents, despite your differences.

Give your child information which is appropriate to their age and understanding. Children do not need to know about adult issues, including the details of exactly why you are choosing to end your relationship.

Many children will have lots of worries when they are told their parents are separating. Some of these will be about how things will change for them and some of them will be concerns for their parents, for example ‘where will daddy live’ and ‘will you be lonely if I am not there’.  Make sure your children know that can speak to both of you at any time about any worries they have and reassure them that everything will be ok as you as parents are working together to solve things.

As parents, it is vital you find a way to communicate with each other for your children’s benefit. If you are having problems with communication, consider whether a joint mediation meeting might help you discuss issues and come to joint decisions about your children’s care.  Some parents find it helpful to put together a parenting plan, which can include a summary of your children’s care arrangements, what you expect from each other as parents and how you will communicate about issues in the future.

If you have separated and want to discuss any issues concerning your children’s care arrangements and the time they will spend with their parents, please contact us.