Reassuringly, in my experience parents want to help their children transition through divorce as well as possible and they are right to really put some thought behind it because it’s a massive event for the child. They’ve grown up believing that they can be with two parents, two people that they love very much and of course it is going to be very difficult for them to lose that structure. However, the good news is that it doesn’t need to have any long-term damage or anything like that if the situation is really well managed.
There are some ways that you can try and make this easier for your child. There are three kinds of guiding principles you should try and keep in your mind throughout the whole process. Some of the things you can do, first of all, is to remind the children that they are loved. The way you can do this of course by telling them you love them but also always making sure that you take time to be with the child, enjoy what you are doing, appreciate them and really cherish those moments together and remind they’re not to blame for the divorce – you’re not angry with them in any way for the divorce. Secondly, making your child feels safe. The way you can do this it’s first of all by showing that you’re coping, so keeping the same routine trying to avoid breakdowns in front of the child in terms of crying lost or losing your temper. If this does happen, and it might well do if it’s a difficult time, just make sure you talk to the child to make them feel safe to talk about it and explain why it happened. Stability is also really important to help the child feel safe when everything is changing through your separation. Try and keep as much of the same as possible in other areas. So for example if you can afford to stay in the same flat or house, stay in the same school, staying in the same area. As I said before, keeping the same routine and seeing the same people even if they’re your ex’s parents or whatever, that’s a great way to really try to keep as much stability as possible. And third of all not to blame the other parent or criticise them. This has been shown to make the child feel very uncomfortable and as though they are in the middle and have to choose.
So if you can really try and think of those three key points, hopefully your child will come through this as smoothly as possible. Do Expect them to be upset about it and that might manifest its way maybe through being a bit more sullen or angry but these three guiding principles – making a child feel loved, stability and not putting a child in the middle of you both in terms of arguing are really important principles.