Children and separation


It can be difficult to decide whether you want to divorce if your children are involved.

  • What will you say?
  • What should you say?
  • When should it be done?

When you feel vulnerable and uncertain of yourself, you must tell your children that you are splitting up and that their lives will change. You don’t want them to be in distress, and you want to make it as painless as possible.

Separation and children’s reactions

Separation can be stressful for children. How your children respond and adjust will depend on several factors:

  • How to deal with the breaking up and ongoing relationships. Children’s adjustment and recovery are easier when parents are sensitive and understand their needs.
  • The age and development stage of the children
  • The children’s temperament, such as whether they are easy-going or anxious.
  • The circumstances surrounding the separation. Were the children witnesses to violence and drama or calm?

Children may:

  • Be shocked, angry, sad and hurt by the loss of your family unit.
  • They feel they are to blame
  • Imagine their parents getting back together.
  • Feel insecure and afraid of abandonment
  • Start acting differently, for example, becoming clingy or moody and wetting the bed.

How to help your children

Parents are often confused and upset at times, but it is important to understand your children and their feelings.

As a result, children must deal with many changes and adjustments. You may also experience many other changes, such as a new home, school, or person in your life. There might be fewer treats because there is less money coming in.

Please take a look at the situation from their perspective.

  • Assure them that they are loved by their parents, regardless of what. Although you may be in a relationship with the other parent, your children may still love that person. They may not be able to understand why you are splitting.
  • Please give them a straightforward, honest account. Explain who is moving and when and where they will be seeing the other parent.
  • Assure them that they don’t have to choose sides. They are devoted to both you and your children, so criticizing or attacking the other parent is not a good idea.
  • Tell them that this was an adult decision. Distinguish adult business and what children should know.
  • Try to make the most of your life.
  • Let your significant other know (e.g., Notify their parents, teachers, and friends. These people can also look out for your child.
  • Never use your children as a mediator. Do not ask your children to relay messages to other parents or make negative comments about other parents. This can be harmful to the child and reflect poorly on you. Children find it difficult to send messages and don’t want to get into fights.
  • Find a way to communicate politely with your ex-partner and keep them informed of important matters concerning the children (health, education, injuries, etc.).
  • Be understanding when children act up or become distressed. Children require understanding and time to adjust. Many children are unaware that their parents have separated, and they need lots of support as they make sense of the changes.

Are you worried about your children?

Talk to your child’s teacher, childcare staff or other family members if you have concerns. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if necessary. Most children feel stressed when their lives change. However, most children can accept the changes and adapt to them with support and care.


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