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The Impact Of Separation And Divorce On Children

Posted By Judy Williams || 21-Oct-2014

Children and Separation or Divorce

The California Courts provide an online guide for families going through separation and divorce. The website, Families Change (http://www.familieschange.ca.gov/ provides three versions: one for parents, one for children and one for teens and pre-teens. This complements the legal information found below.

Deciding how their children will be cared for and where they will spend their time will need to be planned out by the parents who are separating. This plan can be called a “parenting plan”, a “time-share plan” or an agreement (“stipulation”) about child custody and visitation. Children react differently to the separation of their parents. You know your children best. Below is some general information to assist you in understanding your children during the time of separation or divorce. It is important that parents remain open to talking with their children, giving them a lot of understanding and nurturing during this time.

Many children go through these different stages below while dealing with the grief they may feel during their parents’ separation:

Shock and denial of their parents’ separating.
Anger due to their parents separating.
Depression-when significant changes are happening in their lives, children may become overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and sadness.

Bargaining-children sometimes try hard to make things “the way they were” and promise themselves or their parents anything they can to get their parents back together.

Acceptance-children will begin to talk more openly about the separation, get their energy and own interests back.

Helping your children cope with your separation

It is important to explain to your children that you and the other parent will be living in separate homes. It is also important to reassure your children that they will still have contact with both parents even though the two of you are living in separate homes.

Put off a difficult discussion until later and try to avoid arguing with the other parent in front of the children when you are around your children.

Show your children you respect their other parent and avoid putting them in the middle by using them as messengers or spies between the two parents. Support the time that they spend with each of you. Having your children talk with other children with a similar situation, or talking with a counselor may be helpful.

For those families parenting together after separation

Give your children the predictable and stable routine they need.
Be consistent with the other parent and arrange for each parent to spend quality time with your children.
Information to make good decisions about what your children need at each age is needed.
Find a way to parent well together as well as separately.
Find ways to take care of yourself and feel good about yourself and how to understand your confusing feelings.

Set goals and stay calm during difficult situations.

Children benefit when their parents:
Avoid conflict, any physical violence or emotional abuse.
Handle rules and discipline in similar ways to one another.
Support appropriate and safe contact with grandparents/other extended family so children do not feel a sense of loss.
Are flexible so the children can take advantage of opportunities to participate in special family celebrations or events.
Give as much advance notice as possible to the other parent about special occasions.
Provide an itinerary of travel dates, destinations, and ways the children or parent can be reached when on vacation.
Plan vacations around the children’s regularly scheduled activities.
Establish a workable method of communication (“businesslike”).

Children are harmed when parents:

Use any kind of physical violence.
Make their children choose between parents.
Ask questions of their children regarding the other parent’s relationships or activities.
Make promises they do not keep.
Put down the other parent in the children’s presence or range of hearing.
Discuss problems they are having with the other parent with the children or in the children’s range of hearing.
Use the children as a messengers, spies, or mediators.
Withhold access to the children for reasons unrelated to safety concerns.
Categories: Children and Divorce

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