Separating from your spouse is always a difficult process, but it becomes even more complicated if there are kids in the picture. Explaining your reasons for separating can be uncomfortable, but it can be a healthy conversation if done correctly. Here are four tips that will help you explain your separation to your kids, no matter what age they are.
One of the most frustrating things for children of parents who are separating is the feeling that they aren't being told the whole story. Even if your kids are younger, this is a conversation you should approach as if you're talking to an adult. Be honest, tell them why you and your spouse are separating and try to answer any questions they have directly. This approach will convey respect for your children and whatever feelings they may be having in response to the news of your separation.
Keep Them in the Loop
Explaining a parental separation isn't a one-time event. Instead, it's an ongoing process. Try to keep your children updated on what's going on and how the situation is changing. Keep in mind that this is a period of adjustment for them as much as for you, and they need to be kept up to date on how those changes will affect their lives.
Never Try to Keep Them From Communicating With Your Spouse
Although family law and agreements reached with the input of lawyers will govern the formal terms of custody arrangements, it's important to respect your kids' wishes as well. If your child wants to see or speak to your estranged spouse, try to make it happen. Whatever you do, don't try to block off communication, since this can cause trauma to children and create feelings of resentment toward you that will fester for years.
Reassure Them That Their Needs Are Still Your Priority
Kids in a household undergoing a separation can sometimes feel isolated and unconsidered because of the events going on around them. When you explain the situation to them, try to reassure them that they are still your top priority, even as your lives change because of the new arrangements. The more stability you can offer your kids in this time of change, the easier it will be for them to navigate and come to terms with the new situation.
By following these tips, you can positively and productively help your kids deal with the news that you and your spouse are separating. This process is never easy, but approaching it in the right way can at least ensure that it goes as well as possible.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.