Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise are in the headlines this week as Katie has filed for divorce from Tom Cruise.

Breakup need not mean family breakdown

It appears Katie Holmes was becoming increasingly concerned about the effect the Scientology organisation might have on her child. We need remember that marital breakup need not necessarily lead to family breakdown and aim to minimise the impact on the children. Children who are prepared in advance of the separation take the stress of parents separating more easily. Therefore, communicating with the child and use of toys and play can be beneficial in helping a child understand.

Children’s needs following family separation

The most important message a child need is lots of reassurance that although each parent loves their child very very much, that they no longer love each other. Children often blame themselves so taking the time to reassure and prioritising her emotional needs is paramount. It is important to listen to the child and to ‘acknowledge their feelings’ rather than dismiss or dilute them which stops them expressing how they feel. Ensure that you minimise changes at this time as routine and predictability is helpful to the child in feeling more secure.

Embodiments – Bedwetting

Children may respond by embodying their feelings so bedwetting or soiling or tummy pains may be an issue. Alternatively, stammering, nail biting or clinginess can also be some of the responses a child may present with. Obviously, deal with any of these embodiments with kindness and compassion and encourage your child to talk about how they feel or to draw or role play out what is happening for them at an emotional level.