Tips to help reduce the upset divorce can have on your children

Parents separating can be traumatic for children. It may even have come as a surprise to them, especially if you kept any disagreements behind closed doors.

There are steps you can take to reduce the impact on them:

1. Agree behavior in front of children+

You and your partner should try to agree ground rules for how you will act when you are together with your children.

2. Talk to your children+

Listen to how they feel. They could be feeling angry, frightened or worried. They’re entitled to be deeply affected by your decision to separate. You should not stop your children talking just because you don't like what you hear. With younger children they may use other ways to express their feelings such as drawings. Ask about the drawings; this can be a good way to start your child talking about their feelings. If it’s not possible to do this yourself, speak to your GP about finding a professional counsellor or see if they will confide in a grandparent or other family member

3. Clearly tell your children you love them+

Reassure your children by telling them you both agree to separate and that you both love them. Explain that they haven't done anything wrong. Make sure they know they’re safe and will always be cared for. Keep talking to your children during any disputes over money or contact arrangements and beyond. However take care not to involve them in the dispute. This can make a big difference to your children. This can be even more important as they reach their teens and start to form their own relationships.

4. Never criticise your former partner in front of the children+

It can be tempting, but is unfair on your children. Children can feel you are criticising them too.

5. Don’t use your children as messengers+

If you need to speak to your former partner about something, you should do it yourself.

Children resent being put in the middle. If it is hard for you to talk face to face, then write a letter or email. It is best to write when you are feeling calm not when you are wound up!

6. Treat your former partner with respect in front of the children+

It will reduce trauma inflicted on your children. They quite naturally want both parents to continue to get on together, even if they accept you cannot live together.

7. Try to co-operate over issues relating to your children+

Disputes will hurt your children. The more co-operative you both are the more the emotional stress will be reduced for everyone.

8. Try to agree arrangements where both parents remain actively involved+

Statistics show that children who continue to have a positive relationship with both parents will have a better start to life, do better at school and stay out of trouble.

9. Try to present a “united front” to your children+

Otherwise children might be tempted to play one parent off against the other.

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