Many parents attend my clinic with difficulties surrounding Divorce and separation. There can be confusion and misunderstandings from parents thinking why can’t they be over it. In my experience children take time to readjust. I like to think Divorce should not be seen as one single event but rather a long process in a child’s life commencing prior to the divorce and continuing for years after. Children from families can successfully adjust- it does not mean that your child will be disadvantaged. Research tells us that family conflict during and after separation is stressful for children. It can result in anxiety, withdrawal, and behaviour difficulties.We know that the way you are before and after the separation will really make a difference to your child. Many children I have worked with feel that their feelings are not considered and they have not been given proper explanations, this has often left them feeling unloved and angry. You can’t make it better or stop the pain but you can do many things to help and manage the process. Here are my top eight tips with some pointers on what you might see in behaviour through the ages.
If you can manage to offer your ex-partner respect and try and imagine your relationship is now more akin to a business partnership, it will help to diffuse conflict. Healthy breakups include negotiation and compromise.
Do not blame or join in blaming the other parent, listen to what they are saying and say how hard it is for them.
It is normal for any child whatever age to have big feelings too. They may feel it is their fault, do tell them it is not their fault. You need to say this more than once and I know this sounds obvious but this is especially at times of conflict.
Do not assume they may be happy if you meet someone new. Ensure that they know that you will continue to have special time just with them. This will help any rivalries that may emerge between your children and a new partner.
They may be upset, angry or anxious at this time but they can be helped to manage the ups and downs, they can readjust healthily within two years of separation.
If appropriate, give your child time to settle with the idea and try not to change their home, school rapidly or if a spouse moves out too rapidly. sometimes parents want to avoid the anger that leaving ensues but it really helps to talk it through prior to leaving.
Try not to make any further changes in the subsequent two years.This will give them time to readjust.
So keep talking if you can even if it means doing it via email, it can take the sting away from face to face contact. If you want to keep in contact with your child, write them letters. Do not blame the other parent.