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How to protect your children from the fallout of separation and divorce

Separation and divorce are difficult processes to go through for any adult, so imagine how difficult it is for a child. It can be stressful, upsetting, confusing and hard to deal with in general. The effects of divorce on children can be seen in different ways, depending on the child in question. Some common behaviours are: acting “extra good” in an attempt to get parents back together, acting out or showing aggression in an attempt to get attention, and becoming depressed or withdrawn because they feel responsible. Children, no matter what age, may not understand entirely what is happening or why it’s happening, which is why it is so important to protect your child as much as possible during a divorce.

Parents’ Responsibilities

When you are dealing with a divorce it’s a complicated and stressful time. It may be natural to display your emotions, talk about what’s happening and be angry at the other parent, but you have to remember everything you do and say affects your child. Here are some of your responsibilities as a parent during a divorce:

  • Do not talk badly about the other parent in front of children, or argue with the other parent in front of the children
  • Do not ask children to relay messages to the other parent
  • Do not ask children to keep secrets from the other parent
  • Do not ask children to ever choose sides
  • Do not use children to “get back” at the other parent
  • Make sure children know what’s going on especially if it involves them
  • Do not talk to children about child support or financial issues
  • Always take care and provide for your children, no matter what
  • If you have a new partner, be patient with your children. It may take them time to adjust to the new situation

Take Care of Yourself

A very important responsibility you have as a parent is to take care of yourself. Divorce is emotionally draining; dealing with all the changes that are taking place can have a harsh impact on your health. During times like these your children need you more than ever and that means taking care of yourself must be a priority, so you can be there for them.

Telling Your Children

Here are some tips to help you explain to your child/ren what is happening. The tips are sorted by developmental level.