Separation in a family can be turmoil. Sometimes it is done with planning and sometimes not. It can be a confusing time for the parents and the children don’t always know what is going on, why it is happening and if perhaps, it is their fault. That’s the message that needs to be given to the children – it’s not their fault. Sitting down with them in advance and explaining the steps and that you’ll be there with them may help with the transition. If it involves a move, have them keep in touch with friends from the “old neighbourhood” to ease with their transition. Social media, phone contact and play dates could be arranged. As much as possible, stick to their regular routine of meals, activities and bedtimes.
Recognize that the child still has strong feelings for the other parent. Putting the other parent down, even in conversations you think the child is not overhearing, will confuse them and they may feel they need to adopt your “views” of the other parent. Keep conversations open by asking what they miss about the other parent. Smile when you talk with them about favourite family memories.Let them have regular phone contact with the other parent. Don’t wait for them to ask if they can call, encourage them to call Daddy, or Mommy on a regular basis, inbetween visits or shared access.
The children aren’t “divorcing” anyone. Keeping the relationship with both their parents is very important. Parents can work together in the best interests of the child to keep them emotionally healthy by working together to ensure the child maintains the ability to talk about each parent freely, has consistent contact and feels safe and secure no matter which parent they are with.
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