Separation and divorce are rarely fun topics of conversation, but how do you help your children cope with such a cataclysmic change in their lives?
As a man who grew up in a broken home, I learnt fairly quickly that relationships are not always ‘forever and always’ – sometimes they end. As a child, I wasn’t always sure what had happened or how to deal with it; as a child, your parents are infallible but, when they decide to go through with a separation or divorce, it is easy to assume that they have simply given up.
I asked myself many questions, including whether it had been my fault, why their love for me couldn’t persuade them to stay together and whether I would end up losing one of my parents for good. Thankfully, I’m still very close to both my mother and my father and I have got over many of the issues my parents’ divorce arose in me. But for those who are still going through it as children, there are ways of helping them cope.
Explain to your children the reality behind your divorce or separation. Tell them that you still love them and that this will not change your roles as their parents.
Don’t involve your children in your drama. Keep legal talks and fighting away from your children and try to maintain a loving front, even with your partner. This will help them understand that things will get better and that life will not change.
Help them retain their daily routines. Many children whose parents are getting divorced or separated end up having their lives thrown into the air, with nothing familiar to help them feel safe. Making sure that they go to school as always, that Sundays are spent together (even if only with one parent), and allowing them to visit friends and family can help them feel like things don’t have to change.
Keep both parents involved. Unless one of the parents is unfit for his or her role, then make sure that both parents are involved in the child’s life. Allowing children to spend time with both parents helps them deal with what’s happening and allows them to have the nurturing they require to grow up happily.
Do you agree with James’s advice? Has he missed anything? Let us know in the comments’ section below.