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So you're separating - now tell the kids

19 September 2007

separating tell kidsIf you are separating, the first thing on your mind will be how the children will take it. Take this advice from Relate.

Relate for parents
Top tips for stress-free kids
How children react
Depression and sadness

It is a tricky time when the family changes its form, but with some thought and planning, the effect on the children can be reduced. This might sound impossible, especially if you are in the middle of an emotional upheaval, but help is available.

Relate for parents
Some Relate centres offer one-hour, information and advice sessions for parents who are about to, or have already separated. Children do not attend, but they are the main focus and their needs are central to the session. You will be given age-related information and advice about what and when to tell the children. Hand-outs are also provided which can help the children to express their feelings and ask questions. Check the Relate website to find a session near you.  

Top tips for stress-free kids

  • Children will be better able to cope if their parents can be seen to share the responsibility for their welfare. So, telling them together about when and what is going to happen, will show to them that you can still be mum and dad, even though you are not together as a couple any more.
  • While you want to be open and honest with the children, try to keep in mind what they can cope with at different ages. They do not need to know every single detail about what has gone wrong, nor should they be involved in any conflict between you and your partner.
  • Try to keep as normal a routine as possible going. When the routine has to change, introduce the changes as slowly as you can and talk them through with the children.
  • Remind them that you will always be their parents even though you may not wish to be a couple any longer and reassure them, that it is not their fault that you have decided to divorce – this is between the two of you.
  • Do everything you can to help yourselves adjust to your new situation especially, if you are the parent with residence.
  • Reassure them that you have decided to separate from each other but not from them; you are still their parents. Do not put them in a position where they have to choose between you.