How do I support my children following separation?
Separation – Support & Stability
When you are going through a separation, support and stability can often seem like an unachievable dream.
You know yourself that the decision to separate was not an easy one. It probably took you quite some time to make the decision to separate. By making that decision you have leapt into an unknown world with nothing but hope that life really can get better.
Your children though never had that opportunity. They didn’t get to decide if you were to stay or go. They didn’t get the time to come to grips with what is now their new reality. That by no means is a fault of yours – it is simply a fact of life.
You probably even tried to protect your children from the hurt and anguish you felt whilst you were in your relationship. Perhaps you tried to wait until they were in bed before you argued. Perhaps you just agreed so that they would never see the conflict. Or maybe you just stayed silent. It does not change the fact that this is a new reality that has been placed upon them.
So what can you do to help them adjust to the new reality? It is simple – support them and offer them some sort of stability throughout the process.
What can I do to support my children following separation?
Support can take many shapes and forms. It can be support through your ongoing love. Supporting their ongoing relationship with the other parent. Considering their views on what arrangements they may like to see put into place.
It may even mean that you offer them professional support by way of a Counsellor, Psychologist or Therapist. Give them someone to talk to who is not emotionally vested and will not judge what they say.
Or perhaps all you need to do is support their decisions. Their decisions to maintain relationships, to maintain activities and maintain a sense of self. They will no doubt go through a period where they question if the separation was their fault. Equally there will also be a point where they probably blame each of you for the separation and the upheaval it has caused.
Don’t take this personally – remind them that you still love them and you will help them through this as best you can. Remember first and foremost you are their parent and sometimes as parents decisions have to be made which they are not going to like.
How do I provide my children with stability following separation?
Yes I know that stability and separation are very rarely used in the same sentence; but for children it can be vitally important.
The routine that your children had prior to separation will become something that they can cling to. Something that hasn’t changed, something that they will feel like they can control. This can be especially important when everything else around them feels like it is out of control.
Yes it won’t be easy for you but as parents we adapt and overcome things constantly that aren’t easy. So pull up your big parent pants and figure out how you can make it work. Do they do music on a set day? Do they play a sport? Have training or tutoring? If there is something in their life that can enable them to maintain some sense of security this will only help to give them comfort and support in moving forward with you.
Allowing a child an avenue to participate in an activity that they not only love but also allows them to express themselves and their feelings can be of great benefit to them.
Finally, go easy on yourself and them. There are bound to be times when you replay what just happened – you will wish you did things differently. But that is life. You will make mistakes so own them. When you start to own your mistakes you will then give them permission to own theirs. No one is perfect but as kids they don’t always know that.