Father and mother separated! And now … what will become of me?

In this article, we want to offer a more realistic view of what a marital separation can generate in the eyes of children and come up with four guidelines with which you can deal with this new situation and help them understand it and live the most positive experience of separation possible.

Separation is a reality we live with, it is part of our society and in our hands lies the possibility of generating satisfactory solutions to the problems that may arise in the face of children. It is essential to keep in mind the damage that can be done to them if these guidelines are not followed.

Separation from parents: a traumatic experience for children

When we consider what we want for our children, most parents respond “to be well and happy”. In the face of this overwhelming desire to seek and generate children’s happiness and well-being, we must keep in mind that it is “parents” that make children well and happy after separation.

It is obvious that we do not know what will happen, but it is clear that the adaptation to the new family situation will be better, less traumatic and easier for the sons and daughters of parents who, after separation, will be able to share decisions about the little ones and cooperate for their well-being.

What are the most difficult aspects for a child when it comes to separation?

The aspects that generate the most tension in a child during a separation are:

  • Let one of the parents blame the child for the separation.
  • That there has been any form of abuse at home, with or without the presence of children.
  • Let loved ones say bad things about parents.
  • That the aspects against the other parent are verbalized.
  • That children must give in and leave the things they love.
  • Whether a parent is sad or uncomfortable during the separation.
  • Whether the mother or father asks about the other parent’s privacy.
  • Comments from other people in the environment in a negative way towards parents.

All these aspects they put a lot of pressure on the children and this tension can cause adjustment difficulties and short-term symptoms such as depression, anxiety, developmental regressions, anger, aggressiveness, school difficulties … It is not surprising that the child suffers from a decline in his self-esteem and his self-confidence.

The reactions that boys and girls have after separation are different and diverse, and this tells us that it depends on how the separation process is conducted by the parents and the relationship that is established between them. must determine and condition the adaptation of children.

Four general guidelines on the separation process for caring for our children

First of all, it should be noted that the general indicators in each case are variable and should be adjusted according to the age and marital status of the child.. The guidelines we offer are good for children and that is why it should be advisable to make an effort to make them, and thus help improve the adjustment and process of children in separation.

1. Communicate the separation decision to the children

An agreement must be found between the parents on how it will be communicated and with what words it will be said, as well as both must be present and agree on the decision that has been made, So that when transmitting this information to children, it is correct and consistent with what has been done. It should be noted that each of the spouses will live in a different house, that it is not their fault, that sometimes the elderly get angry and cannot be together and that it is better to live separately. You must assure them that they will not miss you, that you are their father and mother and that you will continue to love them, accompany them and continue to take care of them as always.

It should be noted that they will be able to continue with the same activities they usually do, that the two houses will be their home, that their toys can be in such and such a house without any problem …

2. Make it clear that children are not to blame

It should be clarified that separation is a decision made by adults and has nothing to do with them and that they are not to blame nor are they responsible for the decision of their own. parents to separate. It must be emphasized that they will continue to be their father and mother even if they do not live in the same house, and that this decision which is theirs is to make you all happier and to show that the changes in their lives are going to happen. be positive. (“we will stop fighting and arguing-“, “we will be less sad”, “calmer” …).

You need to ask them what they think about it, ask them if they have any doubts or concerns about this change, and leave the door open for their emotional expression. In short, we must let them ask us when a doubt or fear arises in them. This is essential in order to be able to generate good communication and to help children adapt as naturally and as traumatically as possible.

3. Communicate how the visits will be carried out

In this case, the situations can be very diverse and different depending on the age of the child and the process followed during the separation, but better communication and agreement between parents, better experience they can pass on to their children.

It is important in this section to be clear about the aspects that generate tension in children, to be able to be clear about what I want for my child and how I have contributed as a parent to adaptation and reduction of the stress that children generate during separation. .

4. Minimize the impact that we as adults can have on children

In this section we refer to have control and acceptance that the situation of adults has changedBut that our children continue to have a father and a mother and that we should avoid some negative comments, work our anger or our frustration with someone who can guide us and help us manage it and not project it on them, doesn’t generate the well-known “loyalty conflicts” because in the end they both want you and don’t want to hurt you.

Find out more: “Parental alienation syndrome (PAS): a form of child abuse”

Some conclusions and nuances

These are some of the aspects that we want to leave with you so that you can keep in mind in case you are immersed in this separation process and even if you have already done so, it is important that you keep these guidelines. or points in mind.

Finally, it should be noted that the obligation of parents to ensure the well-being of their children is of vital importance. If the child shows signs of symptoms that may be affecting some aspect of his or her life, we should get in the hands of a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology for an assessment and appropriate treatment. In addition, educational psychologists will meet with parents to suggest and facilitate guidelines and strategies that they can implement and thereby minimize the impact on children.

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