Separating Without Upsetting the Children

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Divorce can understandably be a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for children. When couples decide that their marriage or relationship isn’t working anymore and they decide to divorce, there are ways that parents can reduce the potential negative impacts that divorce can have on children.  

The Right Time 

Choosing the right time to tell your children that you and your spouse will be divorcing is different for every family. However, before telling your children that this is happening be sure that you have made a final decision that you both agree to divorce. It is important to avoid telling children that this will be happening if you may change your mind.  

A Quiet Safe Place 

Once you and your partner decide to tell your children that you will be divorcing, choose a quiet safe place to tell them of the change. Your children will need to feel safe so that they can ask the questions they need to ask and express the emotions they are feeling. 

Answer Their Questions Carefully and Honestly 

Children will have questions. Some of their questions may be very direct and even painful to answer. It is important that you answer all their questions in an age-appropriate manner. This will help them see, from the beginning of the process, that they can ask about what they need to know to help them understand the process and how it will affect them.  

Do Not Assign Blame 

In emotionally charged situations where both people might be angry and hurt, it can be very hard not to assign blame to each other for the end of the marriage. However, it is important to remember that your children see you differently than you see each other. It is important to discuss the situation without harming their personal perceptions of each of you. 

Making Decisions 

Many decisions need to be made by both adults during the process of divorcing. Most of those decisions can be made without involving your children. But, in some cases where the children are older and the decisions involve new living arrangements, allotment of time between households and how ongoing daily responsibilities and special events will be handled, it can be appropriate to allow your older children to voice their opinions about how they would like these things to be handled. If you are going to opt for allowing your older children to speak about what they would like to see happen, then also be willing to agree to these things when practicable.  

Consistency Amongst Homes  

While you and your co-parent may be living in different homes, it is important that your children have consistency in both living environments. This applies to things like getting up for school on time, doing homework, personal responsibilities (such as being assigned chores in both homes) and bedtime. When both new homes are consistent, children will know what to expect daily.  

Unified Parenting 

Sometimes when children are living in two separate households, they will attempt to get something from one parent that they cannot get from the other. This can be very damaging to the new family dynamics. It is urged that, if possible, you and your ex-spouse stay on the same page when making important parenting decisions. Sometimes this will involve making a phone call or sending a text message to the parent who is not present to ask them their opinion on the decision that your child is asking you to make. You might find out that the other parent has already said no.  

Argue in Private 

As is common with all divorcing couples, there are arguments. Emotions are running high and there can be times when arguing is impossible to avoid. However, it is also important, whenever possible, to argue quietly and in an area where your children cannot hear you. Arguing in front of your children can cause anxieties and fears to surface in your children, causing them to feel insecure and/or at fault for the situation.  

While no one anticipates getting divorced, especially when they have created a family, divorce happens more often than most of us would like. And while divorce is an adult centered happening, it is incredibly important to remember that it has a current and lasting impact and effect on your children.  

In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780. 

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