Helping your children cope during separation
When parents split up, children often:
- feel confused and insecure because they don’t understand what’s happening
- blame themselves
- cover up their emotions.
You might think your children are OK because you’re too busy just coping to notice what’s going on for them.
- this is a time of major change for them as well as for you
- children don’t usually have the skills to understand when they need help
- each child has different needs.
Talking with your children is important – keep communication as open as you can.
- Find times for your children to be alone with you without distractions (car trips can be good).
- Ask them if they have questions about what’s happening.
- Ask them how they feel. Listen to your children. Show them you are listening.
How can I make sure our children have a say?
- Work as a team with your children to make the best possible arrangements for their future.
- Always ask for their views.
- Children older than 11 are especially likely to have views about the future.
- Don’t pressure your children to make choices.
Take your children’s views into account
If your children do tell you what they want:
- try to fit their wishes into the plans
- if this can’t be done, explain why.
Reassure your children
Tell your children many times:
- it isn’t their fault that you’re splitting up
- you still love them even though you’ve split up
- splitting up is common
- Be affectionate – give your children lots of hugs
- Just listen – don’t feel you have to fix their feelings. It’s painful and you can’t change that.
- By listening, you can help them feel understood.