Separation and the Children
How do you know if you are balancing the stress of separation in ways that protect the interests of the children? While every situation is different, watch for these signs and consider each one as a mini cry for help.
Fear and Uncertainty
Most children feel that the rug has been pulled out from under them. First and foremost you will need to slip on some ‘kid gloves’, be (extra) patient, loving and understanding with them. During this time, hang onto as many family traditions and habits as possible – bedtime rituals, going to school habits, lunches, etc.
Some of the most common fears that a child may have are that they caused the separation or that they are going to be abandoned. They need frequent reassurance that it was not their fault and that they will always be loved and cared for.
It may or may not be clear that your children are going through their own cycles of distress, anxiety, anger, and sadness. They will act out. This is to be expected. It’s all part of the emotional process for your kids. It’s better to respond with patience and love than anger.
Find ways for your kids to channel their energy and emotions. Sign one up for karate to work through and control their emotions, or sign another one up for yoga or art classes. Go for bike rides, walks in the woods or go tobogganing together. Create channels for them to blow off steam and release their energy in positive ways.
Children may openly or secretly fantasize about turning back time, changing the present to a more favourable past. If only they had better grades, if only they cleaned their room more often, if only you would all go on a picnic… maybe you could be together as a family again.
You will need to use direct language to help them realize that you and your spouse are not getting back together and to be sure that your children know it was not their fault. You need to ensure that your children understand that this is an adult decision and that you both love them very much.
LawCoachBC includes a 6-month subscription to coParenter. This application helps parents keep their focus on the kids. It helps parents work things out so that kids are not caught in the middle. When issues arise, you have unlimited access to a coParenter professional to help resolve disputes.
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Author: Justice Education Society – The Justice Education Society (JES) is a BC-based non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people to access and deliver justice in Canada and globally. JES has been helping separating families for 20 years.