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Following are some ways that you as the parent can help your children through separation and/or divorce.
- Tell the children where the other parent has gone without being critical of the other parent.
- Reassure your children that they will continue to be taken care of and will be safe and secure.
- Spend time with each child individually as often as possible.
- Children may feel responsible for causing the separation/divorce. Reassure the child that he/she is not to blame. The children may also feel responsible for bringing the parents back together. Let them know that your decision is final and help them to accept the change.
- Often separated parents feel guilty and become over indulgent because of the children having to adjust to the situation. Set limits for your children.
- Continue to parent your children and do not expect your children to fill-in for the other parent. Seek other adults to fill your need for companionship.
- Avoid situations which place children in the impossible situation of choosing between parents.
- Don’t use your children as a way to get back at the other parent, and don’t use the children to communicate with the other parent on your behalf.
- Throughout life, you and your former spouse/partner will continue to be the parents of your children. Pledge to cooperate responsibly towards the growth and development of your children as an expression of your mutual love for your children.
- A separation or divorce can be a time of loss for each family member. Reach out for help and support.
- Be patient and understanding with your children. Be patient and understanding with yourself.
Ways to Help:
- Fears of Abandonment - With one parent usually moving out of the family home, children often worry both parents will leave them.
- To help: Reassure children that they will be cared for. Explain the new living arrangements in concrete and specific terms so children know what to expect.
- Taking the Blame - Children often believe they did something wrong to cause their parents separation or divorce.
- To help: Assist your children to understand that separation and/or divorce are adult problems and that they are not to blame in anyway.
- Staying Silent - Children often do not know how, or are unwilling to express their thoughts or feelings in words. Their behavior can be angry, defiant and/or withdrawn.
- To help: Be aware of changes in your children’s behavior. Help the children to find safe and constructive outlets for their feelings such as drawing or writing. You may consider a counselor for your children would be helpful as he/she may feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings to a supportive neutral person.
- Getting Caught in the Middle - Studies show children exhibit numerous negative effects when placed in the middle of parental conflict, or are asked to “take sides”.
- To help: Ensure that the children are not put in the middle of the parental conflict or asked to choose between the parents. Family counseling, parental expeditor, parenting consultant and/or private mediator can help you address your conflict and/or emotional issues.
- Feeling inadequate - Self esteem plummets among children of separation and/or divorce.
- To help: Encourage your children to express their thoughts and feelings and talk about why they feel weird, different, isolated, etc. Seek outside help, counseling if necessary.
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