How can we make children understand the new situation?
Any change in the family affects children; separations can be a hard adaptation process for them.
However, it is never too soon for a child to have an explanation about the family situation. Children at an age where the can identify the individual existence of both parents should be informed about their parents’ separation.
Children don’t usually openly communicate their worries and don’t realize the consequences separation bring. Parents should be clear in their message and explain what the consequences of this new situation will be in a way that the child will understand. The explanation depends on the age and maturity of the child. The worst situation possible is to hide the situation from them or not talk about it.
Explaining a separation to a child can be a difficult moment for the parents, and it’s not uncommon for there to be strong resistance. For this reason both parents must be jointly prepared.
A clear message and explanation about this new situation can reduce the common idea children have that a separation between parents means a break up with them too.
Not placing the blame on either of the parents, directly or indirectly, means that the children don’t have to take sides, nor labeling one parent as good and the other bad.
Another important issue is to be very clear idea that the situation has been carefully considered and that the decision is final and thus there is nothing they can do to reunite their parents.
Children must also be given a general view of what will happen in the future. Be realistic and concentrate in the areas of main interest such as the possible changes in their life and schooling.
It is also important to encourage children to talk, ask whatever they need to know and clear all the doubts that this new situation has created
On the whole, children should know the following three things:
- They will still be protected by the people in the parental role.
This can be more risky for smaller children when one of their parents leaves the home. Many will have to face this situation and a change in school, house etc. In this situation they will need more protection from their parents.
- The separation is not their fault.
Children don’t know about the real sate of the marriage or the true reasons why their parents are breaking up. They may magnify their feelings in order to stop the separation or assume the responsibility of this situation. They must know they are not the cause and that they mustn’t take sides, and that their parents love them and that will continue to be part of their lives.
- They will see their parents.
The family, as the child has known it, will change and many things will be different. For a child’s development, routine is very important. For this reason, it is important to let them know that they will continue to see their parents frequently.