Our team of Divorce and Family Law Solicitors have years of combined experience with handling family issues. We’ve listed our top 5 tips for telling your children if you are considering separating from their other parent.
Plan What You’re Going to Say Together
You don’t want to end up giving your children two different stories. You and their other parent should discuss what you’re going to tell your children before you have the conversation. Although it will be difficult, you should try and sit down with them together so they can see that you’re both still going to be there for them.
If it’s not possible for you to talk to them together, then knowing what each other is going to say will help you stay on the same page. This will save your children the confusion, and will leave them reassured that they don’t have to “pick sides” or be in the middle of your separation.
Your child is probably going to have a lot of questions, and it’s important to answer them truthfully.
You can still set boundaries, as your children don’t need to know every detail of what will be mostly adult issues. But you shouldn’t make things up just to make the conversation easier for you. You might think it’s reassuring to promise that things will stay the same, but you don’t want your children to resent you if this isn’t the case six months later.
If you don’t know the answer to something, explain that you’re unsure but will let them know as soon as you can.
Listen to Your Children
Children can get angry and upset and may blame a situation on themselves. It’s important to show them that their feelings are valid and that you understand why they may be feeling that way. Let them express their emotions how you’d like to express yours.
And if they need space, give them space. This doesn’t have to be just one conversation, and if they decide they have questions later on then you should hear them out.
Try and allow them to share what they would like to happen. This doesn’t mean that you’re letting them make your decisions, but it’s important to show your children that you’re letting them have some input into their future.
Don’t be Negative about Your Former Partner
It’s very important that you don’t put your child in a position where they think they need to pick sides between their parents. You and your child’s other parent may have your differences, but playing the blame game won’t help anyone.
Your child’s wellbeing is the most important thing. And letting them process their own emotions is important and they should be shielded from adult emotions that may conflict with their own. You can explain that you’re upset with something that their other parent did, while also explaining that what they did doesn’t make them a bad person, or means that the other parent doesn’t love them the same.
Showing your children that both parents love them, even if you don’t feel the same towards each other anymore, will allow them to feel safe and protected by both of you.
Be Open about Your Plans for the Future
Children live in their own bubbles and things that may not be on the forefront of your mind, might be playing on theirs. Consider what they might want to know, like who is going to take them to school and what days you’re both going to see them.
If you don’t have all the answers yet then let them know you’re going to make a plan soon. Listening to your children’s questions might even help you leave no stone unturned when making child care plans with your former partner.
Most of all try and take a step back and consider what your child is likely to want and how that can be sorted out. It may mean you having to think more about your child’s needs than your own, and that is hard to do at such a difficult time. But by achieving what is in your child’s best interests, they’ll be much happier for it.
If you and your former partner can’t agree on childcare arrangements, our Divorce and Family Solicitors can help you. We can talk you through mediation or a Child Arrangement Order so you can start planning your future and will be able to reassure your children as soon as possible.