Separation from a partner or spouse can be a traumatic and harrowing experience. It can be even more complicated when children are involved. Here are some tips to keep in mind following a separation, that may assist your children to cope:
- Ensure they have appropriate support: Sometimes they will want to talk to someone who isn’t one of their parents. Make sure that their school knows about the separation, and encourage them to speak to a neutral third party, like a school Chaplain or counsellor. Alternative options may be a group therapy class, where children are able to speak to other kids going through the same thing. Anglicare and Relationships Australia run some great group-counselling sessions for children;
- Ensure you have appropriate support: You can’t always be the hero, and to take care of your kids you need to take care of yourself – see a counsellor. If the first one doesn’t feel right, then find one that does. Different counsellors use different techniques, so find one that fits;
- Don’t act like everything is fine: Even young children recognise when something has changed, and they’re a lot more perceptive than you give them credit for. Talk to them about the separation, ideally with your former partner, and explain that, although some things will change, you still love them and will both be available to them and supportive. If you’re not sure how to speak to them about it, ;
- Be a role model: Not everyone can be like Ghandi, but if you have children and you are going through a separation, you had better try to be. A relationship breakdown has the ability to bring out the best and the worst in people, and that the way you act during a relationship breakdown will set the example of how your child or children will understand relationships for the rest of their lives;
- Remember that it gets better: In the short to medium term, it can sometimes feel as though there is no way out. Pain fades over time and you will come out the other side.