Understanding the effects of divorce on children can be important when considering how best to start the divorce or separation process.
Parental divorce or separation can cause a great deal of stress for children, particularly when one parent leaves the family home. In this article, we will discuss the effects of divorce and separation on children and reveal our top tips for making the divorce process go as smoothly as possible for all those involved.
The effects of parental divorce or separation on children
No matter what you do or how you break the news, your divorce will affect your child/children’s lives. Witnessing parental divorce or separation can be extremely distressing for children of all ages and, if not handled delicately, may cause issues both now and in the future.
Children may experience feelings of loss, anger and anxiety upon finding out that their parents are going to divorce. They may struggle to sleep or find it difficult to concentrate in school. It is likely that they will have many questions and will worry about what their future will look like.
The good news is that you can limit stress for your children by managing the situation in the right way.
How to tell children about parental divorce or separation
Informing your children that their parents will no longer be together can be a difficult subject to broach.
While the conversation will never be easy, there are a few things that you can do to make the process less stressful for your children:
- Tell your children together – If possible, you should tell your children about parental divorce or separation together with your partner. This way, your children will see that you will both still be there for them and can work together to parent them.
- Prepare what you are going to say – How much or how little you tell your children will largely depend on their age and maturity. You know your children best and how much information to reveal. However, no matter what the age of your child, make sure that you reassure them that the separation is not their fault, as many children blame themselves.
- Keep communication lines open – Your children are likely to have questions, many of which will come to them over the new few days, weeks or months. Encourage your children to be open with you and to share any questions or concerns they may have. This way, you can do your best to ensure that any worries they have do not grow into something bigger in their minds and cause problems.
How to spot common effects of parental divorce or separation on children
No matter how hard you try to get your children to open up to you, there may be feelings or worries they are not telling you about. They may be worried about upsetting you or may not even realise that something is playing on their mind.
If your child’s school work is slipping or teachers tell you they are struggling to concentrate in class, this may be a sign that they are not coping with the divorce.
Another tell-tale sign is arguing with friends or family members more. This is an indication that they are struggling to deal with their emotions, which is making them angry and frustrated.
Taking action and encouraging your children to open up to you – or another family member – can help your children to deal with any problems they are having in processing your divorce, before they turn into something bigger.
Making an appointment with a solicitor to discuss the divorce process can help you to prepare for any questions your children may have. Get in touch to book your free consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords, comments: “Minimising the impact of the breakdown of parental relationships on children is key to their welfare and development, whether by way of agreeing together arrangements that will provide your children with familiarity and stability or by shielding them from adult disputes and speaking positively and respectfully at all times of the other parent. When adult relationships come to an end children are often caught in the middle and blame themselves for not being able to prevent the breakdown of the relationship. It is imperative that your children’s needs are put above any adult issues and that a child focused approach is adopted when considering what is in their best interests. Court should be a last resort and attempts should always be made first to agree the day-to-day arrangements either together, in mediation or through solicitors. Recognising that their parents still have a role to play together, even after the breakdown of a relationship, in supporting and nurturing your children and in meeting their needs in the years to come will be beneficial to their welfare.”