Helping your kids through separation

by Lorrie Brook / Separation / 16 Nov 2020

Helping your kids through separation and divorce

Today we are focusing on how you can help your kids through the separation and divorce process.

As you know going through separation and divorce is an emotional rollercoaster.  In fact there are so many highs, lows, twists and turns even adults can struggle to deal with the ever changing emotions that they are faced with.  But yet, we expect that our children will, without drama.  Stop and think about that for a moment.

Yes it is unrealistic to expect there to be no issues.  You are likely going to face some type of emotional meltdown when it comes time to leave you and go to your ex’s (and vice versa!). You can expect that there will be teething issues over belongings, rules and expectations.  There may be issues at school or with their friends as they struggle to find the new norm.  

The current situation is one that they have had placed upon them.  They didn’t decide that you and your ex were going to separate, they just needed to accept that this was happening and adjust accordingly.  This however can take time.   

So what can you do to make it easier?  Here are 5 tips to help you adjust.

  1. Give them someone to talk to.  Someone other than you or your ex.  Given them someone independent, someone who won’t judge them.  Someone who will give them a safe space to talk and express themselves.
  2. Keep communicating and talking to them.  Let them know that if they have any concerns or want to talk to you or your ex that you are there to listen.
  3. Let them express their emotions.  Yes you may see them cry when they leave you, yes they may say that they don’t want to go to see your ex, but remember that they also did   this when you took them to daycare or school (and they still managed to have a great time after you left).  This is normal.  
  4. Keep things as normal as possible for them.  If they were playing sports beforehand let them continue.  If they were seeing friends on weekends let them continue.  Weekend activities can be especially hard for both your kids and you as often this is time that one of you would ordinarily have but now you are giving this up so that they can do something else.  You may feel ripped off - like you are losing time with your children that you don’t otherwise have.  Yes that is true.  But it is also an essential part of growing up.  It isn’t vindictive or alienating if they have always done this.  It is their life and routine as they know it.  
  5. Depending on the age and circumstances surrounding your separation, you may even wish to include them in any mediation regarding parenting matters.  Such mediations are called Child Inclusive Mediations.  They are not appropriate in all circumstances, but they can be a great way to identify what is important to your children so that you and your ex can be sure to focus on that during any negotiations.