We have decided to separate but what about the kids? by Sara Barnes | Blogs | The Law House

We have decided to separate but what about the kids? by Sara Barnes

By in All Blogs, Family Law Category on December 4th, 2013

You have decided to divorce or separate from your spouse/partner but you are not sure how to tell your children?  How will you deal with their anger and distress? Frequently when speaking to clients who are in the early stages of divorce or separation I am often asked whether I have any advice as to how to deal with telling and managing their children following separation.  I am not a counsellor and what I say often is a matter of common sense, but here are my top tips to help you through those dreaded conversations.

  1. Remember you are the adult, hard though it is, and manage your emotions.  Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Keep your feelings and problems separate.
  2. Try to speak to your children together.  If this is easier said than done, or will only create tension or argument, talk to them separately, although preferably agree what you will each be saying beforehand. 
  3. Keep it simple and age appropriate.Avoid blaming the other parent.  Whilst you may be angry or upset, your children will still love the other parent and you should respect this.  Telling them your feelings for them will not change, and similarly that you know they love the other parent and that is OK with you is so important.
  4. Seek to reassure them you will remain their parents, and that they will still see the other parent.  Your children will almost certainly be upset and depending on their age, may be extremely worried about what will happen to them.  If you can’t say where they will live etc, then explain to them that you are working these things out and will talk to them about it as soon as you can.
  5. Make it clear that they are not the reason for your separation and it is not their fault.
  6. Reassure them – Explain that you are sorry and that you understand it is a difficult time for them.  Letting them know they can talk to you further or ask questions will almost certainly help them come to terms with the separation. Be preared to answer a lot of questions however strange they might appear. What does it mean to separate? where will we live? Why?
  7. Listen to your children acknowledge and support their feelings, without criticising or trying to change their feelings.
  8. Give your children quality time – let them know they and what they say are important.
  9. Put yourself in their shoes – if it were me in their situation what would I be feeling if my parents were about to separate.
  10. Forgive yourself and accept you may not be able to solve your children’s problems and the best that you can do for them is be there.

If you or your children are really struggling with the decision to separate, counselling is an option. It is not right for everyone but sometimes being able to talk to someone who isn’t involved helps!

If you are considering Divorce or Separation, and want some good practical legal advice, please contact me, Sara Barnes, on sbarnes@thelawhouse.com or 01245 809556.