It’s more common than people realise, 28% of children in the UK alone will be coping with the dramatic effect of separation and divorce with no support. Children want their parents to stay together as it’s familiar to them and feel abandoned when one parent leaves, worrying they could be the reason for it.
Children find it difficult to discuss their feelings, the people they would normally turn to when feeling sad and alone is their parents.
Listening is a step towards helping your children through this difficult time. They need to know their feelings and thoughts through this process will be heard, so they can enjoy their childhood. Children may not tell you what they feel or need in words, it could be through their behaviour and expressions they use as well as their sleeping patterns.
The decision to divorce may have an impact on your children but divorce should not impact good parenting.
Fact – 48% of couples divorcing had at least one child aged under 16 living with the family.
Children will have many unanswered questions whilst the divorce is going through. Who do they talk to? If one parent left will the other? Can they trust you? Children need to feel safe and secure and parents need to work together for this to happen.
People surrounding you and your children are able to support them in feeling safe and loved such as family, friends and their teachers. They need your help all through the divorce rather than trying to ignore the difficult situation.
Your children will automatically think awful thoughts due to the negative information you are telling them. By talking and explaining what’s happening you can turn these thoughts into positive ones.
As previously discussed, children may not say how they are feeling, this could be expressed through behaviour, physical actions and emotions. You need to make sure you are listening and deal with the children’s issues otherwise they can escalate out of control.
Fact: Two thirds of parents express desire for support during and after divorce to help them understand what is happening to their children.
Aggression, Sadness and Disrespect
Some children will show their emotions in forms of aggression, sadness and disrespect. Many refuse to go to school as they want to stay at home with the parents, or are unable to concentrate on school work.
Divorce can effect the children socially and they could isolate themselves from their peers which could lead to bullying. You need to interpret what is going on in your children’s lives by monitoring their behaviour. Working with the teachers at their school will give extra support and help with their daily routine.
Treating your children fairly is also important as they can pick up on favouritism. This can have a big impact on children feeling safe and secure. Be aware of favouritism and work on loving and treating your children equally.
Praise your children, reward them for achievements and good behaviour. This will build your children’s security as well as confidence. Remember family time is important with fun games and outings. When you are all having fun together, it is hard for the children to concentrate on the negative situation of your divorce.
Fact – It is expected that 42% of marriages will end in divorce
Let it sink in
Your Children will need time to let the information you have given them about the divorce sink in. It’s a lot to take in and children do not think the same as adults, this can sometimes be forgotten.
Children need to be able to live their lives and have the childhood they deserve. As they grow older they will start to become more independent, spending time with friends more frequently. This behaviour needs to be encouraged, do not let your feelings of jealousy interrupt this time. Your time with them is precious but children also need to become independent and should not be made to feel guilty about doing so.
Remember your children will want to spend time with you. If you don’t allow them their independence then you could push the children away or stop them from having the freedom they need to experience.
Fact – Most Children want to keep in contact with both parents, the contact varies in both quantity and quality
You need to think of your children before introducing your new partner. The children need to get used to the idea of their parents going through divorce first. Make sure that when you introduce children to your new partner it’s past the dating stage and something more serious. Your children will have varied reactions in meeting your new partner, these may not all be positive so be prepared.
At first they may not approve of your new partner, children could blame them for the initial break up and divorce. Introduce them in an environment that is child friendly so they don’t feel uncomfortable. Keep the time you spend with you children separate to your new partner. Your children could feel they are not getting quality time with you.
You need the divorce to be a smooth process, be civil to each other and not involve your children in any arguments. The breaking down of the relationship is hard for you both, but you need to think of your children and the examples you are setting.
Tip – Allow your children the freedom to build their own relationship with your new partner.