Separation is difficult for everyone and you might feel that you’re protecting your child by keeping things from them; however children often feel powerless and confused if they don’t know what’s happening. You can help them by telling them in a way that’s easy for them to understand; they don’t need to know all of the details but they do need to know about the things that will affect them.
Children often believe that they have done something to cause break-up and that it is their fault that you are splitting up. Both parents need to let them know that it’s not their fault while remembering that you might have to tell them this more than once.
Acknowledging your child’s feelings can be difficult; no one likes to see their child hurting and it can be tempting to try and make things better by buying them treats and over-indulging them with expensive presents. This can lead to problems in the future as they will quickly learn that feeling sad and crying leads to mum or dad “spoiling” them.
They need to feel able to express their feelings without being taught to turn to quick fixes. Help them to tell you what they feel and to express themselves in healthy ways; tell them that it’s OK to feel sad and to cry, and also tell them that you feel sad sometimes as well.
Children don’t need to feel that they have the responsibility for making decisions but they do need to be consulted and feel that they have been heard. You can listen to them when they tell you what they want, and also make it clear that you’ll take their feelings into account even though you can’t always give them everything that they want. By doing this you’ll be showing them that you understand how they feel.
Children often worry about being left by their parents; after all if you left each other you could do the same to them. It’s important you let them know that even though parents can stop loving each other, the love you have for them will last forever and that it’s all right for them to love both parents without having to take sides.