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Posted on: 14 August 2013 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors
Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved, and if you are parents,
your child or children could be severely affected. It is therefore important to take steps towards helping your children understand and cope throughout this difficult time.
In a report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, it was found that children who experienced a divorce without proper support were “consistently associated with psychological distress in adulthood during [their] early 30s.” The report studied children of varying ages and backgrounds, and regardless of these factors it was found that they all suffered detrimental psychological effects.
However, despite the negative findings surrounding children who have experienced a divorce, there are ways you can combat it to ensure that your children feel safe, secure, and understand that although you and your partner have chosen to separate it is not their fault and can be a natural part of marriage should the relationship break down. If you take certain steps you can avoid any future psychological effects, and perhaps prevent any resentment for either parent in the process.
Undoubtedly, you will also find the divorce process somewhat stressful; however, as an adult you will have developed coping mechanisms that your children may not have. The first step to helping your children is to ensure that they understand what is going on so as to eliminate any confusion. The best way to do this is to simply have a discussion with them during which time they can ask questions and you gauge which information is appropriate, and explain in an age-appropriate way too.
It would be helpful to plan the discussion beforehand and conduct it at quiet time when your child or children will not be distracted by thoughts of impending homework deadlines or after-school commitments. If you have very young children it is best to keep things basic and at a level they understand, which may mean simply explaining that Mummy and Daddy are going to live in separate houses and that they will have a bedroom in each. They may ask questions as they grow, but for the meantime basic information is best.
Encourage them to ask as many questions as they like; supressing emotions of any kind can lead to releases in unexpected ways at a later date. Asking questions can help them understand what they’re feeling as well as the process that you and your partner are going through. Children of all ages have varying depths of understanding, therefore the more empathetically inclined child might require more reassurance than another, or perhaps a logical child will make peace with the situation with a never ending stream of questions – try to answer them calmly and informatively, no matter how you might be feeling.
Avoid blame and confrontation, you do not want your children to take sides and it will also help in the future if you would like to remain on good terms with your former partner. If you are both putting up a united front and remaining neutral your children will do the same. In the same vein you and your partner should establish a routine whereby your children feel safe and secure so that they maintain a sense of normality throughout the divorce process, which can be carried on afterwards; be it going to the park on a Wednesday evening or spending a few evenings a week with each parent.
With this advice in mind, whether you’re divorcing for the first time or have been through the legal process before, it is imperative that you find a reputable and specialist family solicitor for your needs. A good solicitor will clearly explain the divorce procedure to you, as well as providing help and advice regarding custody issues if you should have any.
Choosing a specialist family law firm can greatly reduce your stress levels, as you can be confident that their experience and expertise will ensure you achieve the desired outcome, leaving you time to help your children understand this difficult process.
Read further advice and guidance in our online Advice Centre.