Listening and talking to your children about divorce

You may be waging war with your former husband or wife but your children are innocent parties in your divorce and their interests must transcend yours and be considered carefully at every stage of the divorce process.

Sharing their feelings about divorce
It is imperative that your children feel that they can talk to, and share, their concerns and emotions with both of their parents wile they are getting divorced. Explain to them that they are allowed to feel angry or sad and that talking about their worries will help them to come to terms with them. Always be positive. 

You can help to offset anxiety about moving house for example, by telling them that they will be nearer other relatives or friends who are going to help look after them when you are at work; or that you will be nearer to school and that they will be able to walk home with their friends instead of catching the bus. 

 to avoid when getting divorced
The cardinal sin when getting divorced is to use your children as weapons against, or as a means of bargaining with, your former spouse. They will be struggling to come to terms with a major upheaval as it is and if one parent tries to assert control over the other using them as pawns in the divorce proceedings then they will not only be hurt but will suffer long term emotional trauma as well.

Issues of where children will live after divorce are best dealt with away from solicitors and courts.  Even though divorcing parents may well be harbouring acrimony and antagonism toward each other, their feelings must be put to one side when considering what is in the best interests of any children involved.

long lonely roadDivorce: a long and lonely road
Divorce and life after divorce can be a hard and lonely road.  Do not make the mistake of using your child as a confidante. This will only confuse them even though they may initially feel proud that Mum or Dad considers them grown up enough to be privy to matters that should only be discussed between adults.

It puts unnecessary pressure on them and detracts from the innocence that is special to childhood. Being pushed into such a role too early may also lead to problems later.

Neither should children be used as an emotional support or as a replacement for a father or mother who has left. Boys particularly, can be pushed into the part of being the man of the house at a time when they need extra support themselves. It is grossly unfair, not to mention damaging to young minds, and problems arising from such situations are inevitable.

Never ask a child to be the bearer of messages to your former husband or wife nor should you ask them to spy on the other parent. They may well misinterpret your curiosity and think that you are considering a reconciliation with the estranged husband or wife thereby giving rise to unrealistic hopes followed by crashing disappointment. 

Divorce and children
Do not involve children in the divorce proceedings.  Never ever put them in a position where they feel they may have to choose between one parent or another and never include them in discussions that show either parent in an unfavourable light.
However hard it is for you it is at least equally difficult for a child to see the two people he or she loves most in the whole world doing what every child fears – splitting up and getting divorced.  You must do your utmost to reassure them that although their lives after divorce are going to be different everything is going to work out for the best in the long term.


Helpful websites

Its not your fault offers practical information for children, young people and parents experiencing divorce.

Childline operates a twenty four hour free phone line for distressed children in any circumstances.

The charity Family Lives works for, and with, parents to help them understand their children and the problems that come with having a family. They offer help and support through a range of services designed by parents for parents.

Families Need Fathers is a registered charity that provides support to single parents of either gender. It's chief aim is to help children maintain relationships with both parents.


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