You will need to tell children that you are separating.
Research shows that a majority of children at preschool, and younger, were not told their parents were separating.
Children that wake up one morning, and their parents have split, are exposed to a deeply traumatic experience.
This is in addition to an already traumatic experience.
How to tell them
The children should only be told the basic and objective information, with the focus being the future.
The reasons for separation, or blaming, are not to be part of the dialogue with the children. This only impacts on the childrens ability to move forward, and function well in the circumstances.
However, by contrast, a discussion that involves explaining the childrens future, and living in ‘different houses’, is beneficial.
Also pointing out the benefits of the new arrangement will assist, for example ‘mummy and daddy will not be fighting in front of them anymore’.
It follows, that under no circumstances, should the children be exposed to blaming between the parents about who is at fault.
Importantly, the children need to be reassured that it has nothing to do with them, and it is all about the break-down of relationship between their mummy and daddy.
Do’s and don’ts of telling the children
You should abide by the following:
· No lies – this will undermine the children’s trust in you.
· No secrets – this causes conflict for the child.
· No negativity – otherwise harm is caused to the child and their relationship with themselves and others.
· No blame.
· No using the children to ask your partner to come back.
Instead, the focus needs to be on more positive behaviours, such as:
· Telling the truth.
· Keeping it simple.
· Allowing the children to love both parents.
· Being future focused.
· Reassuring the children that it is not their fault.
The experience of separation for children is difficult enough.
However, with the above tips, they have at least the opportunity for a better experience.