Dos and Don’ts for Divorcing Parents

Helping Children Cope with Separation and Divorce

When adult relationships break down it is the children who suffer most. They often feel that what has happened is their fault in some way. They may feel powerless. Here are some suggestions to help them.

Do….
Let children know the divorce or separation is not their fault
Allow them to express their feelings and acknowledge and accept those feelings
Give them the information they need about practical arrangements
Let them know it’s okay for them to love their mother and father equally, just as they did before the separation
Support their relationship with the other parent
Let them know they have two homes and are equally welcome in both – don’t make them choose
Give them discipline and boundaries as well as love
Reassure them you still love them and always will.
If you do not have contact then keep in touch by phone or skype, send them letters, emails, texts, facebook, myspace, twitter – this gets much easier as children get older and have independent access to technology.

Don’t…
Criticise the other parent
Use your children as messengers and spies
Use them to retaliate against the other parent
Make them responsible for adult decisions
Make them your best friend or confidante
Undermine the other parent’s routine (bedtime, sweets, homework)
Place blame about why the divorce happened
Try to win their love by ‘outbuying’ the other parent
Discuss the details of the divorce or separation
Stop contact or child support to punish the other parent

Whatever has happened between you and the other parent, your child’s welfare must come first.

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