Talking to children about separation
Dealing with separation isn't easy, but it is essential to discuss it with children. Children may experience guilt or feel they could have done something differently to prevent the separation or divorce. It is also necessary to remember that some children want to talk about it while others want to avoid it.
But what happens if you don't talk to your children about separation? If you've separated from your child's other parent and aren't comfortable talking to your child about what's going on, take it from someone who's been there: Don't wait. The longer you leave things until discussing separation with your children, the harder it can be for everyone. It might not be easy at first—but simply telling them that you love them will go a long way toward getting kids through what may be a difficult time.
Parents must reassure their children that they will still be involved in their lives as much as possible after the separation. It is vital to make sure children understand that they are loved unconditionally by their parents and grandparents after the separation and divorce. Talking to children about separation is challenging for any parent, but it's even tougher when you have limited information or preparation time. Separation and divorce are different for everyone, but if you have children, you should honestly talk to them about it early.
Below are some questions children might have about their parents getting divorced:
When will I see my other parent again?
Who is going to live with me now?
Will I still see my friends?
How will this affect my family budget?
What will happen to my pets?
These questions may vary depending on your child's age and how much they know, but they are good conversation starters when discussing divorce with your children. Some parents want their children to know everything right away. Other parents prefer to wait until the child is older before telling them any detail about the separation, which is appropriate, but here are some things you might say initially:
It doesn't mean we love you any less.
We still have time together.
We're going to have time apart too.
It doesn't mean I'm not your mum/dad anymore.
You're still our favourite person.
Adelaide Family Mediation supports parents in ensuring that key messaging regarding separation is worked into your parenting plan. This is important to ensure that you remain aligned, minimising any confusion for your children. Even though you are separated, you need to be consistent and united.