Separation from parents.
Separation from parents is emotional trauma for the whole family, especially for children. Explaining this situation to them is not an easy task.
It is a true fact that every five minutes there is a marital breakdown in Spain . Since the legalization of divorce, more than three million marriages have been broken in Spain. The latest statistical figures collected in Spain are devastating:
“Of every ten new couples who marry, seven of them end in divorce or separation.”
The worst thing about this situation is that six out of ten marriages that separate have children, so we can say that almost one hundred thousand children are affected each year by the separation or divorce of their parents.
Knowing how to act and being able to reorganize family life will be essential in the future emotional development of children.
The children are the most affected.
Separation from parents means changes for all members of the family, especially children. It is a situation of insecurity and confusion that needs a period of adaptation.
These first negative consequences do not have to last a lifetime and their duration will depend on how you accompany your child throughout the process:
- Explaining how the separation will affect you.
- Assuring him that you will continue to love him and take care of him.
“It is very important that the child knows that he will continue to be loved and cared for by his parents, despite the separation.”
- Maintaining a relationship with your ex-partner as free of conflicts as possible.
- Collaborating with your ex-partner on issues related to your son.
- Helping your child feel good about himself and develop as an individual.
(1) – It is necessary to know how to explain to the children the reason for the divorce
How to explain to your child the separation of parents.
The first step to help your child overcome the separation is to be aware and be prepared to assume the responsibilities that you have to face from this moment on.
The explanation that you give your child about the separation will help him to adapt to the changes that it entails. You must be prepared to answer the questions he may ask you, in addition to making it easier for him to ask them, since, with your answers, you will help him face this difficult situation.
“It is important that you explain to him together and when you are calm, clearly and simply, the decision you have made”.
The tone of voice you use, security and not being confused or negative will help transmit tranquility to your child.
Helping your child understand what separation means will greatly facilitate the adjustment process. You can explain to him in words appropriate for his age how the separation will affect him.
Tell him where he is going to live, with whom and what changes are going to take place. In addition, you must make it clear that you will continue to see the father with whom you do not live on a daily basis.
When you tell him why you split up, avoid blaming each other.
It is very positive that you clarify that you are separating as a couple, but not from him, and that you will always remain his parents, so he can count on both of you when he needs it.
“It is essential that you make it clear that he is not responsible for the situation.”
You must bear in mind that your child can react in very different ways when hearing the news of your separation: anger, crying, silence, indifference … In any reaction it is important to allow him to express his feelings freely and listen to you with affection and understanding.
Before his direct questions, it is important to tell him the truth, but without going into those details that could do him more harm, such as involving him in the domestic economy, speaking ill of the other parent … At the end of the conversation, invite your child to tell what he said. feel and give his opinion, always leaving the communication channel open with him.
Parents’ attitude according to the age of your child.
If you are between three and five years old.
The most common reactions are usually:
- Fear of being abandoned by their parents.
- Tantrums, peeing in bed again, hitting others, not wanting to stay with anyone.
- Sleep problems, feelings of guilt, withdrawal, or aggressiveness.
It is very important to always assure him that he has nothing to do with the fact that one of the parents has left home and that, even if one of you leaves home, you will be there to continue taking care of him.
It is essential that your child perceives that you continue to care for him, and does not feel abandoned, respecting as far as possible his rhythms and habits prior to the separation.
“Parents must go out of their way to prevent their child from feeling abandoned.”
It is vitally important that you are attentive to his behavior changes, avoiding making comments that could ridicule and hurt him (“You behave like a baby”).
If you are between six and eight years old.
At this age the child needs a concrete answer to his questions and that both parents know the concerns of their child.
The child can:
- Feeling that you are betraying the parent you are not with.
- Be afraid of changes that may occur in your life.
- Missing the father with whom you do not live daily.
- Be more withdrawn and / or aggressive and present school problems.
- Have fantasies and wishes to reconcile your parents.
“It is very important that the new family situation is communicated to the school.”
This communication with the school serves to prevent the impact it may have on your academic performance. Likewise, it will serve to request professional help, if necessary.
It is necessary to convey to him that he can count on you, spending as much time as possible with him. This makes it easier for him to express his feelings to you in the new situation.
(2) – Parents should avoid arguing in front of their children.
If you are between nine and twelve years old.
Initially, you are more prepared to deal with the repercussions of separation than younger children, but anger and nervousness are still common. In addition, it tends to ally or take sides with one of the parents.
At this age, the child’s group of friends is becoming increasingly important and providing their support is very important.
It is very positive that you encourage him to invite his friends to the house and to participate in organized leisure and free time, cultural groups, etc. to help you in your personal development and to acquire healthy habits.
In the same way, it is essential that you are in contact with their little world, both inside and outside the home, in case it presents changes that have gone unnoticed.
“It is essential that you avoid making negative comments towards your ex-partner, so that he does not take sides for either of you, since he needs you both.”
It will help her a lot to know that you care and closely follow her progress and school changes. For this, communication with their teachers is very important, so that your child perceives your interest in him and his things.
If you are a teenager.
This is the most difficult stage, as the adolescent begins to have his own opinions and struggles to acquire his own personality. His main concerns are: his own body, his sexuality, his independence from the adult world and his values.
Faced with the separation of the parents, it is common for the adolescent to be more aware and sensitive to conflicts that have existed and exist in the family, and to changes in parent-child relationships.
By being able to reach your own conclusions it may happen that:
- Take on an adult role that doesn’t belong to you.
- Take sides with one of the Fathers.
- Use or manipulate the situation to your advantage.
It is important that you understand their behavior, respecting and promoting their independence without experiencing it as a rejection of you.
“Parents must not forget their main mission and fall into the temptation of being more friends than parents.”
However, you must establish clear and stable rules of coexistence, both in the home where you usually live, and in that of the father who does not have custody.
(3) – Parents must help the child overcome the separation.
How to help your child overcome your separation.
The best message you can always convey and show is that you love him and that, whatever happens, it will always be that way. Help him talk about his feelings to reduce the doubts and insecurity that separation can generate.
It is important that you inform the school of the new family situation in order to have their support. When you perceive that your child presents negative changes that are beyond your control, it is necessary that you request professional help.
It is important that your child knows that you care about him and that you are interested in knowing where he is and with whom. In the same way, it is positive that he knows about you. Don’t forget that he cares too.
“Remember that the more time you spend with your child, talk and play with him, the more secure he will feel.”
This is better than using the television, video, or computer to distract him or give him gifts for no reason.
Do not use your children against your partner.
If you are the non-custodial parent, agree to have as much contact with your child as possible. If, on the other hand, you have custody, do not interfere and facilitate the contact of your child with the one who does not have it. Share, according to the possibilities of each one, the maintenance of your child so that he feels supported by both of you.
“Do not use your child to hurt each other, or to get your partner back.”
Do not ask him to take sides for one or the other, since he loves you both. Remember that the figure of a family mediator can help you a lot in the separation process.
Make sure that the legal process affects your child as little as possible, giving him the necessary information for his peace of mind, reducing the level of tension that is breathed at home and not arguing with your spouse in front of the child.
The best situation for a child after separation is one in which the parents can cooperate amicably for the benefit of their child and in which the child can maintain a positive relationship with each of them, feeling loved by both. In the face of any conflict or situation that you are not able to control, seek professional help.
(4) – Parents must ensure that their children do not start.
- Nuptiality and Breakup in Spain 2015 – Family Policy Institute (IPF).
- Separation or divorce: Psychological disorders in parents and children – Reyes Vallejo Orellana, Fernando Sánchez-Barranco Vallejo and Pablo Sánchez-Barranco Vallejo.
- How to act if you separate and have children in common – Diario ABC.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.