Children and divorce: How to help them (and you) survive separation
Divorce or separation is never easy – and it can leave the most confident person feeling unable to cope – let alone being strong for the sake of the children.
Ann Corrigan, founder of Clarity Family Law Solicitors, a specialist family law firm in Buckinghamshire and also a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer, shares her tips for surviving separation and minimising the impact on yourself and your children.
Cut yourself some slack: A divorce is never just one person’s fault. It’s normal to feel sad, angry and upset when a relationship comes to an end, but don’t let these feelings affect your self-worth or impact on future decisions. Try to stay positive and picture yourself dealing with this in a positive way.
Reassure the children: No matter how bitter the dispute, it’s important to keep telling your children that they’re loved by both parents – even if you have to grit your teeth. Keep your venom to yourself and process it in a different way (with the help of a counsellor or support group if you need help doing this).
Talk about it: Resist the temptation to shun all contact with friends and family at this point or to try to avoid talking about what you’re going through. Being open and encouraging your children to talk about their feelings is healthy and will quickly show you who your true friends are. When talking to the children about the divorce, it’s OK to say that you’re upset, but don’t go into the details or make them feel guilty in any way.
Stick to routines: Children need routine, as we know, and even more so during a time when everything seems to be up in the air. Of course some things will have to change, but try to stick to their day-to-day routine as far as possible to help them feel more secure.
Introduce new traditions: Children often struggle with holidays, birthdays and other special events after a separation – even when they might not have shown much enthusiasm for these family gatherings during the marriage. Help them deal with this sense of loss by introducing new, fun rituals.
Plan the future: If you’re stuck working out the practical details with your partner, consider consulting a mediator to help you work out the details of holiday arrangements, schooling, extracurricular activities, medical care and times spend with each of you.
New family changes coming into effect in April 2014 require divorcing couples to attend mediation awareness meetings before going to court. Mediation avoids drawn-out, costly court battles.
To find out more about what this process entails – watch Ann’s video explaining the mediation process.
Explore new opportunities: Find ways of meeting people, develop your career and learn new skills. This will build your confidence and help you see divorce as a chance to move forward and redefine yourself.
Ann Corrigan is founder of Clarity Family Law Solicitors, a specialist family law firm in Buckinghamshire, and a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer.
(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)