How to support your child during a separation

SEPARATION, SUPPORT AND STABILITY

BY LORRIE BROOK 

Leading expert of child wellbeing during separation.

When you are going through a separation, support and stability can often seem like an unachievable dream for both yourself and your children.  

You know yourself that the decision to separate was not an easy one, it probably took you quite some time to make the decision and by making that decision you have leapt into an unknown world with nothing but hope that life really can get better. Our children are often protected from the hurt and drama that can go on between their parents and separation can sometimes come as quite a surprise. 

The best way to help them move forward is to support them and offer them some sort of stability throughout the process.  

How can you support your child?

Support can take many shapes and forms.  As a parent our natural reaction is to shield our children from hurt and pain and do whatever we can to take this away from our children.  It is important thought that you can acknowledge that there are some events in life which will cause this pain and all we can do is support each other and work through it.  Be willing to accept that they will have many emotions surrounding the separation.  They may go from happy to angry, to sad and confused.  Questioning why and was it their fault.  

Even as adults we can struggle at times to acknowledge what it is that we are really feeling and why it is so.  Remember this when it comes to your children especially the younger ones.  They may not know what they are feeling; they may have trouble articulating it to you and instead may just act out. Don’t take this personally – remind them that you still love them and you will help them through this as best you can but first and foremost you are their parent and sometimes as parents decisions have to be made which they are not going to like.   You may find that the best way to support them through is, is to engage the services of a Counsellor, Psychologist or Therapist.  Someone who is independent, and who they can talk to and trust that they will no judge what they say or take sides.  

It may not be that extreme though and perhaps all your children need is for you to support their decisions.  Whether that is to maintain relationships, to maintain activities and maintain a sense of self, it will be their way of expressing how they are feeling and what they need at that time.

Ensuring Stability (No I’m not joking!)

I know some of you will scoff when you hear the word “stability”.  Sure, stability and separation are very rarely used in the same sentence; but for children it can be vitally important.  

Initially ensuring stability in their lives will be difficult. There may be neither rhyme nor reason as to when and why you are doing what you are doing except that you are continuing to move forward.  

During this period though you should do your utmost to maintain your child’s routine.  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.  

Do they have music on a set day?  Do they play a sport?  Have training or tutoring?  Allowing and enabling your children to continue participating in an activity that they previously undertook will provide your children with greater comfort and security. 

At the end of the day you know yourself that the separation is a traumatic event and our fight or flight response can tell us that it is better to pack up, move away and start afresh. Before you act on this instinct ask yourself – will your children process and deal with this better if they were able maintain their current school, friends and extra curricular activities?  Would this support and stability help your children and you to get through this separation with a lower emotional cost then should you move away and start afresh…. Only you know the answer to this one!


Lorrie Brook is the founder and owner of ourchildren.com.au, Australia’s first website offering tools to help separated parents keep better records, communicate more effectively and avoid unnecessary legal action and conflict.

Lorrie is passionate about protecting children throughout separation and ensuring they are not used as ‘messengers’ between their parents. She is also the proud mum of her little girl Tehya.