A big pair of eyes staring at you. They sense something is wrong, but don’t quite understand what it is. Often the children are the silent victims of a separation or a divorce. How to tell children about separation is of paramount importance. It’s an opportunity to reassure them during this difficult time.
Problems in a relationship are not planned. But as adults, we have the capacity to understand and prepare ourselves for what is about to come. Children however, don’t have the luxury of preparing for the events that change their lives. Explaining it to them, is the responsibility that falls on to the parents.
I’ve been in the homes of couples going through separation. Just one look at their children, indicates the overall stability or the lack of, in the family. Children are great at picking up subtle emotions, that we as adults often miss. Children’s level of adjustment, tells the whole story.
If you happen to be going through a separation or a divorce, don’t put off talking about it with your kids. Here are important steps to follow before, during and after your conversation.
1. Plan the Conversation
The conversation with your children needs to be planned out in advance. Ideally, both parents should be involved. Discuss among yourselves when and where the conversation will take place. Prepare what you will say and how you will say it. Anticipate any questions that will likely arise.
2. Remain Calm
During the conversation, set your differences aside. This is an extremely important time for your children. You must cooperate with each other in order to give your kids the best possible assurance for the future. The last thing you want is to get into a conflict right in front of their eyes.
This time is not about you. This conversation is for the benefit of your children. It is for them to draw upon in the future, to have the necessary information to maintain their emotional well being. Clearly you have your differences, but you must stand united when it comes to your children.
3. Give General Explanation
There is no need to go into every detail. This isn’t why you’re having this talk. You should however, be prepared to give your kids the necessary general information that will be sufficiently easy for them to understand, and satisfy any questions they may have.
4. Give Details How the Kids Will Be Affected
Explain to the kids exactly how the changes will affect them. They will want to know about a new schedule, where, when and with whom they will live. Discuss with them what you do know, and reassure them that even though there are things that you don’t know yet, you are working on it, and will let them know.
5. Reassure Your Children With Love
No matter what is going on, no matter how bad things may be, love can heal. Both parents must tell and show their children, that they love them unconditionally! Make them understand, that what is happening is in no way their fault. And that no matter what happens between the parents, the children will always come first, and will always remain loved.
6. Answer Their Questions
Your kids will most likely have lots of questions. Patiently address them as best you can. Be open and honest with your answers. Tell them what you know, and tell them if you haven’t got the answer. Understand that this subject will need to be revisited again in the future, as often as it is necessary to satisfy your children’s needs.
7. Let Them Adjust
The news of a divorce or separation is a major event. Your kids will need time to adjust to the news and to the changes that are coming up in their lives. The important part that you as parents will play, is to provide your children with a stable and healthy environment, no matter what the future may bring.
Remember that not only are you offering support to your kids today, but you are also showing them how to handle difficult situations in their future. Your children will grow up, and one day have families of their own. Teach them now how to behave appropriately and thoughtfully. And hopefully they will avoid making the same mistakes in their lives.
Live well. Vlad