If you’re considering separation, one of the most difficult things you will face will be sitting down with your children and telling them that you and your spouse are temporarily separating. I’ve lived through it and can attest to the fact that it was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of my life and that of my daughter. My daughter loved both her mother and me, no question about that. At the time of our separation she was 8 years old and full of life. She didn’t know that her mother and I were not getting along, which is why it made it even more difficult to explain to her what we were about to do.
We reassured her that we loved her so very much and tried to gently explain that her mom and dad needed a break from each other so that we could work on our problems. I explained to her that although her mother would be moving out of our house, we both would be there for her and were just a phone call away if she ever needed us. The tears welled up in her little eyes and she wept. We were her whole world and all that she ever knew.
How much do you tell your children about your impending separation and how much do they need to know? What questions will you answer and what questions are off limits? These things need to be well planned and thought out before you talk to your children. If you do not have a game plan you will confuse them and potentially cause more problems. I highly recommend that you and your spouse agree to meet and cover the important issues that need to be shared with your kids. What are the things that you should talk about?
- The first thing you’ll want to do is reassure your children you love them and nothing will ever change that.
- Make sure both parents are there to talk with the children. Be prepared for questions that may be asked of you.
- Make a commitment to avoid airing your dirty laundry or that of your spouse.
- Let them know that as their parents you are working on things separately and need time to do so.
- Do not give dates when you will get back together even if this is your plan to avoid getting their hopes up!
- If it is appropriate, share with your children that you need time to repair the marriage and make it stronger, so time apart will help this process happen.
- Allow your children to express their feelings
- If you don’t have answers to their questions, don’t lie and make things up. Be straight with your kids – they will love you for it.
- If you are having an affair, do not tell your children! This will cause lasting damage and pain for your children.
- Don’t point out your spouse’s faults and blame each other for why you’re separating.
This list is just a start. These are simple guidelines that can be added to or changed however you’d like.
It is very important to keep your children informed. They will need you more than ever to reassure them they will be ok! Make every attempt to spend extra time with them. You will be in pain and struggling with everyday parenting while trying to figure out what your next steps will be but it’s important to continue doing normal, day-to-day activities with them.
Do you fear telling your kids that you are getting separated or divorced and need help in doing so? Do you or partner need help in putting a plan together for talking with your children? Do you need to rehearse sharing your separation plan with your children? If you answered yes to any of these questions, call and set up a complimentary 30 minute appointment with Dr. Mike.
Several of my readers have expressed an interest in talking with me about how to save their marriage and even how to or how to bring it to a close. During our 30 minute consultation we will explore whether divorce coaching or divorce counseling is for you. I have made my calendar available for you to schedule a free 30 minute appointment. All calls are confidential and your privacy is protected.
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This is a great article with very helpful tips on how to communicate with children during such a difficult time.