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Helping Your Child Cope with Your Divorce or Separation


Mar 28, 2023

When going through a divorce, prioritising your child’s emotional well-being is often top of the list for parents. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome and it can be especially tough if you are separating as a result of domestic violence. We explore how you can help your child navigate the challenges of divorce or separation. With the help of Newcastle and the North East’s leading divorce solicitors & family lawyers, Major Family Law.

Your child and divorce

There will often be ill feelings between yourself and your ex-spouse during a divorce. Although some couples may split up amicably, further down the line, there may be differences on where children will live and how property will be divided. Even if your child is very young, they are still able to pick up on subtle disagreements between their parents. Typical emotions may manifest as sadness, anger, confusion, and shock. Some youngsters may revert to bedwetting, demonstrate challenging behaviour at school or they may become withdrawn.

Be honest about what has happened

Being honest is important in helping you build trust with your child in the long run. However, you must strike a balance between being honest and over-sharing the details of your divorce. You can do this by simply saying that you and their other parent are unable to get along anymore but that you both still love them. Take a little time to consider how you are going to explain things to your child and make sure your words are age appropriate. Actively listen to your child too, and validate their feelings by showing empathy when they are sad or angry.

Don’t blame the other parent

When being honest and open with your child it can be easy to slip into the blame game, particularly if you have been hurt or feel resentment towards your ex. Where possible, speak to your spouse before you speak to children and agree on what you are going to say, and what you are not going to say to them. It’s even more beneficial to your child if you can speak to them together.

Tell them they are loved by both parents

Sadly, it’s common that children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. However, you can put their mind at rest straight by explaining that your separation has nothing to do with their actions. Make it clear that you will both go on to love and care for them even though you will be living away from their other parent.

Maintain daily structure

Change is especially difficult for children but it is an inevitable part of divorce. Counter this as much as you can by sticking to routines like meal times, going to school and extracurricular activities. If changes to routines are unavoidable establish new routines early on and let your child know what will be happening to help them feel secure and safe.

If you have experienced domestic abuse

If you have experienced domestic violence during your marriage then divorce can be especially daunting. The new no-fault divorce laws introduced in April last year are thought to help those who have experienced domestic abuse because there is no requirement to detail bad behaviour, which could provoke a negative response from an ex-spouse. It is also believed that children will benefit as they will not have to witness their mom suffering. It’s advisable to speak to a family lawyer with experience in handling cases involving domestic abuse.

Look after yourself

Whatever the circumstances of your divorce it is important to look after yourself too. It may seem counterintuitive when you are worried about your child but taking care of you will give you greater strength for having more patience, empathy and control over your emotions. Make sure you have a good support network around you. Speak to your friends and family, join a local support group and try to keep up the activities you enjoy doing.

By admin