Divorce and separation is a difficult adjustment for everyone involved. It means the entire family set-up is changed. Children will no longer be living with both parents and, sometimes, they are even moved to new homes. It is a period of adjustment for children as well as mums and dads. The changes can feel scary for children and they need assistance from the adults around them to cope with the adjustment.
It is understandable that parents often get caught up in their own processes during a divorce and forget to include their children in the adjustment period. Some parents over-include their children (especially older children), while other parents resist talking to their kids about what is happening. Often there is tension between the parents when going through a divorce and this can spill over towards the children. Parents can talk about one another to their children leaving kids feeling torn and stuck between the two. As this is a big adjustment for children, parents really need to focus at least some of their energy on helping their children cope with the changes.
What children require most at this time is a sense of stability and security. Parents can help their kids by sticking to routines, setting firm boundaries, opening the lines of communication and remaining respectful towards one another. Although it may feel difficult to find the time, ensure that both parents are spending quality time with the kids and addressing their key concerns on a regular basis. It is also helpful to discuss the changes with other significant caregivers in the child’s life such as teachers, grandparents, and au pairs so that these adults can continue to be sensitive to behaviour changes in your child.
For more details about helping your child with a separation and divorce, see following blogs. If you have concerns, it may also be helpful for you and your child to talk with one of our psychologists.