A separation between partners or divorce between parents can be a highly disconcerting, nerve-racking and anxious time for children involved in the family or in the relationship. No matter what the age, children are bound to feel uncertain and angry at the very thought of their parents breaking up. It is important to make the process of separation and its consequences less stressful for the kids involved. In order to help your children cope with the trauma of divorce or separation, it might mean offering stability in your house and taking care of the needs of your children with a comforting and optimistic attitude. Agreed, the process of divorce or separation is not seamless, but a few tips can help your children in minimizing the stress and trauma of dealing with it.
• As tough as it might be to do so, it is important to strike an empathetic tone and speak to your child about the most significant factors involved in the situation, without resorting to excuses or lies. For your children, an honest, yet a kid-friendly account of why the separation is taking place is extremely vital. Long drawn and long winded excuses will only confuse your children, and it is important that you speak the truth on why a divorce is being sought. Use honest and simple lines such as,” it is not possible to get along anymore and hence it is best that we move apart, yet stay friends.” Try to tell your children that although a separation is inevitable, it does not mean that the parents and children should stop loving one another even after being separated.
• Keep reiterating that you love your children no matter how simple it may sound. Saying, “I love you”, is a very powerful message to children at this critical juncture that tells them you will still be there for them no matter what; right from preparing their breakfast or helping with their studies.
• Gather your children and let them know that together all of you can deal with every hurdle as you go along, and that they are not alone in whatever they experience during the difficulty. Acknowledge to your children that certain things will not be the same anymore, while certain things will still remain as they were before.
• As far as possible, do not get into the blame game with your kids and refrain from passing critical remarks on your spouse when speaking to your children about the situation. Although it is important to be honest with your kids, staying away from insensitive remarks about your spouse, even if it is not an amicable case, is extremely critical. With the help of a little diplomacy, you can avoid the blame game even if there have been hurtful incidents such as disloyalty.
• By presenting a united face in front of your kids, you and your estranged spouse can advance on explanations regarding the separation and demonstrate to your kids that separation need not be an ugly affair.
• You can support the feelings of your children by helping them to grieve and take the time to adapt to new circumstances. Divorce or separation for kids is a traumatic experience as it means the loss of a parent that they have learnt to live and love, which is akin to the loss of a life that was dear to them. As much as possible, encourage your children to speak about what they are experiencing and actually listen to all that the same without judgement. You may realise that there are so many experiences and emotions that they are going through such as frustration, anxiety, rage and other feelings you may not have expected from them.
• Acknowledge their honesty and sensitivities, even if they sound hurtful to you. Kids are usually reluctant of sharing their true emotions for fear of hurting the one parent who is willing to listen to them. No matter what they share with you, let them know that you are okay with whatever they have to say about the situation.
It may take some time for children to deal with the spot they are in and handle the issues that they are going through, regarding separation or divorce, but with your assistance and support you should be able to see the gradual trust they will place in you and the improvement in their lives over a period of time.