Separation is a huge time of adjustment for parents and children.
Explain to your Child
Before the parent leaves, the child or teen needs an explanation. Not knowing is very difficult for a child, as I know from personal experience. My father’s suicide was not explained to me and unconsciously I knew my mother did not want me to talk about it. But where does a child go with their feelings? All that sadness and confusion now has no outlet; nowhere to go. I learned to suppress and to depress my feelings which were very unhealthy. Sit the child down and allow them to express how they feel, to ask questions and offer reassurance. They need to know what they can expect.
What children need post separation
- They need both parents to support them in being connected to Mum and Dad
- They need no more change to allow them time to adjust
- They need someone to be able to go to with their feelings
- They need to know it is not their fault
- They need you to avoid criticising the other parent
- They need no conflict
- They need you to be okay
- They need time before you introduce new people into their lives
Parents need help and support during this difficult time
When a parent feels supported, they are in a better place to support their child or teen. Expressing how you feel, to a trusted friend or family is helpful. Accept the offers of help and support you receive and take time to stay in touch with the ‘spark people’ in your life who lift you up and from whom you come away from energised and happy.
Take care of yourself
This is a time to really look after yourself and charge the battery as you cannot give to your children what you have no got. If there is no petrol in the tank, the car won’t get very far. Prioritise getting enough sleep, take time to eat well and to get some exercise – all great stress busters!
Conflict with your ex-partner?
If dealing with a hurt ex-partner – remember that ‘hurt people hurt other people’. Therefore, work on not personalising anything your ex says or does. When you do, you respond defensively and conflict can escalate. Work on your separateness through reminding yourself that regardless of what they say or do – that it is about them, it is for them, it is not about you.
Manage your own emotions
- Stay calm and ensure communication is respectful.
- Respect former partner’s parenting style
- Cooperate and be fair with them around your children’s access.
- Get help with a mediator to develop a parenting plan around custody, education and access.