Telling your children about the separation

Whatever age your children are, telling them that you are separating will be difficult. But, as difficult as it will be for you to tell them, it will be more difficult for them to hear it. The following ideas will help to reduce the impact:

 

Make sure you are certain

Be sure that there is no alternative to separation before you tell your children. Once it is said, it can't be unsaid.

 

Choose the 'right' time

There is never a 'right' time to tell your children but, if possible, choose a time that isn't going to bring added pressures for your children, such as exam time.

 

Try to tell the children together

Even if one of you is unhappy about the separation, try to tell the children together. It will indicate that you are both working together to manage the changes ahead.

 

Be straight forward

Children need to know why their dad and mum are separating in clear, age-appropriate language. Simply saying that you no longer love each other can lead younger children to believe that the day may come when you no longer love them.

 

Accept responsibility

Don't tell kids that separating will be best for everyone - they either won't understand or won't believe you. Accept responsibility for the situation in order that your children don't feel that they have to.

 

Don't blame each other

Find ways to be honest without pointing fingers. Your children need to feel that it is safe to love you both and that they won't be required to take sides.

 

Establish the road ahead

Try to give your children as much information as possible such as where they will be living and how and when they will spend time with each of you. If you are not sure about something, tell them that you will talk to them about it again soon.

 

Give plenty of reassurance

Let your children know that you both still love them, that the separation is not their fault, that you will both continue to be present in their lives and that you will both work together for their happiness.

 

Follow up

It's important to follow up at regular intervals so that your children can check things out and ask questions that will occur to them over time. Don't forget, it's your job to help them to adjust.

 

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Child focussed information and support around all aspects of divorce and family separation.