For any parent, facing a divorce or separation is a daunting prospect. Minimizing the hurt and upset that divorce and separation can cause your children will be a top priority at this time. Talking to your children about their feelings and emotions can be difficult, so we have put together some tips on communicating with your children if you are facing a divorce or separation.
- Make it clear that you are always there to listen to your children if they want to talk to you.
- Although it is sometimes very tempting, try your hardest to avoid saying negative things about your partner’s behaviour in front of your children.
- Place any comments that your children do make in context of their age and emotional state.
- Be aware that children can express different feelings and opinions to different people. It can be a confusing time, do not be surprised if they “change their tune” often.
- Take great care when asking a child for an opinion. It can be a difficult for them to answer without feeling like they are betraying the other parent.
- Do not ask the child for information about the other parent. In particular, avoid digging for information about any new relationships they might have, or for updates on what they are doing and with whom.
- Do not use information that your child tells you as “proof” of the other parent’s wrongdoing. It is important that your child feels they can talk to you without worrying that you will use what they tell you against their other parent.
- If the children express anxiety or disappointment then acknowledge it. It is important that children are allowed to express their emotions. Do not try to stifle them and, instead, aim to find ways to discuss the issues with the other parent.
- Increasingly, children use social media such as facebook and twitter to express themselves and talk to their friends about their problems. It is a good idea to keep an eye on public posts that may show you how they are feeling, however, resist the temptation to hack into their account as this will undermine the trust in your relationship.
- Try to create informal situations at home when your children know they can talk to you without feeling under pressure. Often, children and teenagers find it easier to talk while doing other things. Preparing dinner together is a good way to get a conversation going without the pressure of sitting across a table from one another.
More advice and useful information for parents who are going through a divorce or separation can be found on the Resolution website: http://www.resolution.org.uk/advice_centre/