Divorce and Separation are commonplace in these times. Many children will see their parents break up. How the children experience this is very much related to how the parents conduct themselves.
In any event the children will be on the receiving end of changes that they would not choose for themselves. Whether that is seeing less of one parent or moving home most children will experience some reduction in circumstances. Even the most considerate of parents will need to make some room for the children’s grieving of loss.
Add to that conflict and disputes and children can experience feelings of guilt, sadness, hurt, anger and abandonment. These feelings, if left unattended will manifest as emotional and behavioural problems such as nightmares, distancing, clinginess or hostility.
Where one or both parents are busy coping with their own feelings it is all too easy to expect compliance from a child who actually needs support. Worse still is where either parent treats the child as a therapist by sharing too much of their emotional difficulties or expects empathy from a child whose circumstances have just changed for the worse as a result of the parents actions.
As difficult as it may be, if both parents expect to maintain contact with their children then it is not a break up. It is a transition from couple to co-parents.
So a change in attitude is needed. Where children are involved there are two key questions to address as a priority:
How do we transition this coupledom into a co-parenting relationship?
What model of conflict resolution do we want our children to experience?
These two questions require skilful facilitation and are worth investing in by using an experienced professional because the less attention you pay to these questions the more it will cost you down the line as your children get older and form their own opinions about what has been visited on them.
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