Separation and divorce is unpleasant, to be completely truthful, divorce is an absolute world-wind of emotional turmoil. But, one of the hardest aspects of separation or divorce is explaining your decision to your child/children and trying to manoeuvre a conversation of such heartbreak. While there’s no easy way to have the conversation, or some magical way to make it not hurt, there are some simple steps you can take to hopefully ease the pain and make things easier for your children to understand. As separation or divorce can affect children in a variety of ways, this blog is purely child-focused. The thought of co-parenting might be overwhelming but there are options for you to make things easier.
This article will provide you with some tips to make the separation/divorce chat easier for your child/children to digest, and hopefully make the adjustment period a little easier for them, so that co-parenting can be a breeze.
Below are some tips on how to have the conversation along with some important messages your children should know.
- Present a United Front
Even though it might seem inconceivable, this is one of the most important steps. You and your partner should sit down with your children together and explain in very simple terms your decision. Regardless of whether it was or was not a joint decision, for the sake of your children, this act can demonstrate that you both still love them very much. Ensure to use the words “we”, “our” and “us”.
- Be Calm and Loving
As hard as it may be, stay calm and try your very best to refrain from getting emotional or sad in front of your children. Prepare for their potential responses so you can prepare yourself to keep a straight face even if things do get emotional. You and your partner should show each other respect and kindness, even if things are far from amicable.
- Keep it Short, Sweet & Simple
Quite literally, try and keep your speech short, with as little detail as possible and matter of fact. For example - “Your father and I have decided not to live together anymore as we just aren’t happy living together. This is nobody’s fault. This is just something that happens sometimes, and nobody can control it.” Stray away from telling them any nasty details or anything inappropriate that might make them question their loyalties or their relationship with one of you.
- Stress that it is NOT THEIR FAULT!
Possibly the most important tip of all, is to ensure your children understand that this has absolutely nothing to do with them and that they can do nothing to change it. Young children in particular can often feel responsible for their parents separation or divorce and this can cause serious mental scarring if not properly addressed.
- Ensure you Speak to the Whole Family
It is crucial that when you have this chat you sit down with the entire family and tell everyone together. Then afterwards follow up individually with each child and give them some one on one time to share their feelings (with both parents present).
- Allow Questions
Your children will likely have a few questions and it is vital that you have answers for them. Do not fob off any questions or make them seem like it isn’t a good question. Be calm, collected, and totally open to answering any question.
The most important thing to remember is that regardless of whether you hate your soon-to-be-ex and cannot stand to be anywhere near them, they are still your child’s/children’s parent. You may find it helpful to complete a post separation parenting program such as the Separated Parents Orders Training Program (SPOT) so you can begin to understand what your new co-parenting relationship will require.
At the end of the day, following the above steps will be challenging, co-parenting will be challenging, there’s no doubt about it. However, once you have had “the” chat, and it went as well as it possible could have, you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. Get in Touch with Our Children Australia to learn more about your post-divorce options and co-parenting apps that are available to help you co-parent to the best of your abilities.