A divorce may have been contemplated for a while; it’s been on the cards and an unspoken probability. Your children may have sensed that not all was well between their parents. They have overheard talk of a separation and might suspected something is about to happen. But the news that a divorce is going to take place in their family can still come as a great shock to them.
Recently, I received the following from a parent who had decided to tell to his child that Mum and Dad can’t live together anymore:
"I did take our daughter aside last night and asked her mother to come in too. I spoke to her and said ‘all the right things’ but it proved gut wrenchingly miserable – to see her put a brave face on it and allow tears to roll down her face without saying anything other than to ask if we will all be together for Christmas leaves me bereft."
This loving father along with many other mum’s and dad’s never want to cause their children distress. So something as difficult as telling children about parental separation can be a real worry and a painful and difficult event for all. With one in four children in the UK now involved in their parent’s divorce during their childhood this is a situation that I am constantly coming across.
How do I tell our children we are divorcing? Do I tell them individually or all together? What do I tell them and what do I not tell them? Where? When? etc … Help in finding answers to some or all of these questions can increasingly be found from on-line. The following are a couple of websites that my clients have found helpful.
Resolution, is an organisation of 5700 lawyers, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. It has recently added a whole section to its website that provides Advice for parents. Under the heading Supporting your children, it covers Talking to your children about your divorce , How to listen to your children , Managing the negative impact of divorce for children. In other pages you can find key information to help you make a positive difference for your children, as well as details of Resolution’s new parent workshops which aim to help parents manage the impact of their divorce or separation for their children.
Divorce coach and parent educator Christina McGhee has a list of tips for talking to your children about divorce on her website and blog.
Further helpful information for parents can also be found on:
- www.gingerbread.org.uk provides information and fact sheets for parents who are separating or parenting apart.
- www.parentlineplus.org.uk provides a range of publications for all parents.
- The Centre for Separated Families has an email advice service dealing with a range of issues
The message that is broadcasted by all of these sites is that children need to be reassured that you will forever be their parents. You will always be their mum or their dad and just because the two of you can no longer live together does not mean that you love them any less. They will always be your children and you will always love them.