Information Regarding Separation for Parents and Children

 

Going through a separation and/or divorce can be a difficult time for adults and children alike. It is of the utmost importance during this trying time to maintain as much stability and normalcy for the child/ren involved as possible. It is also imperative that parents ensure child/ren understand that they aren’t to blame for the situation, and that both parents love them and will be there for them during this troubling time.

For Parents

The following are some of your responsibilities as a parent during a separation or divorce:

  • Do not speak badly about, or argue with, the other parent in front of the child/ren.
  • Do not ask the child/ren to be a messenger to the other parent.
  • Do not ask the child/ren to keep secrets from the other parent.
  • Do not ask the child/ren to choose sides.
  • Do not use the child/ren to ‘get back’ at the other parent.
  • Be sure to make sure the child/ren know(s) what is going on, that it isn’t their fault, and reiterate your unconditional love and support for them.
  • Always put the care and protection of the child/ren at the top of your responsibilities.
  • If you are introducing a new partner, be patient. It may take your child/ren time to adjust.
  • Be sure the child/ren understand(s) that they are not losing their family, it is just changing.
  • Do not be afraid to seek professional help. Some children may need counselling to help them through this difficult time.

For Children

the following are important points to remember if your parents are separating or divorcing:

  • If your parents are divorcing, it is NEVER about you. No matter what they might argue about, the divorce is between your parents only.
  • You are not alone – lots of kids went through this and are okay, and you will be too!
  • Divorce is NOT your fault.
  • Your parents are not divorcing you – they are your parents forever.
  • Talk about it. Go to your parents and tell them how you feel and what they can do to make things easier on you.
  • If your Mom or Dad has a new friend, give them a chance. Try to be friends with them – you never know, you might like them a lot!

There are many useful resources to help parents better explain the situation to their kids, as well as many useful sites to help kids understand what is going on. Some helpful tools include:

  • This ‘Families Changeopens new windowsite has separate sections for children, teens and pre-teens, professionals and parents. The site, provided by the Government of British Columbia, includes guides to separation and divorce as well as links to additional resources.
  • This site from the Federal Department of Justice is a detailed site for kids and parents called ‘What Happens Next? Information for Kids about Separation and Divorceopens new window. There are several sections, including how to explain the change, coming up with plans, what to in the case of violence, and much more.
  • A guide published by Health Canada opens new window which provides information for parents to help children and teens through separation and divorce. Provides guidance on parenting through divorce, developing a cooperative parenting relationship, and how to help kids at different ages and stages.