In Part One we highlighted the importance of talking to your children to reassure them that despite the traumatic changes in their lives created by the divorce some certainties will remain.
It is unwise to try to minimise the importance of the changes that divorce will create in their lives. Divorce is a major event and this trauma is shared with your children, it's part of their lives too. Here are the other five things you really need to talk to your children about. If you get this part of the divorce right then everyone's future life will be easier and the healing will be quicker.
1. You will not be alone.
Tell your children that you will always be there for them, no matter what happens. Explain that their friends and family (especially grandparents) are still there and everybody loves them. Make sure they know they can come to you whenever they want to or need to. The fear of abandonment can often be a powerful and destructive emotion.
2. I know you are sad.
Be aware of the feelings of your child. Comfort your children and hug them, hold them tight. They need to know that you understand their pain and that you know that they are upset. This will give them the confidence that you will do everything in your power to help them and heal their wounds.
3. You can always call Mummy/Daddy.
Separating parents will, almost inevitably, create a perception of distance between you and your children. Try to limit that distance and perhaps even remove it entirely over time by building an open communication channel between you and your children. Mobile phones (text or voice) and email make this much easier to achieve and it avoids having to speak to your former partner (which can be a great advantage) when they are with him or her. Make sure they know that you are always available for them.
4. You will see Mummy / You will see Daddy
A parenting schedule will become an important part of your future life with your children. It provides an important part of the stability they need. As soon as you have an idea how the parenting schedule will look talk to them and give them as much information as they need. Avoid changes which may be very confusing. Even young children can understand and adjust to carefully organised parenting plans very quickly.
5. Mummy and Daddy love you very much.
This is absolutely key, "Mummy and Daddy may not love each other anymore but they both love me." If your child can say that then you have achieved something of great value. The divorce process is likely to make your children wonder whether you or your spouse may abandon them or whether the divorce is their fault. Make sure you tackle these two vital issues before they take root in your children's imagination.
There is no perfect prescription for helping your children survive and prosper. Divorce will never be easy for them but some straight talking, love and gentleness will go a long way to achieving this.