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How do I break the news of our divorce to my children?

View profile for Liz Headley
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Every year no fewer than 240,000 children in the UK experience the separation of their parents - more than one in three of them before their sixteenth birthday. An often overlooked factor of any divorce is the physical and emotional impact the breakdown of a marriage and family can have on children. It is inevitable that children will experience the divorce differently to the way in which their parents experience it.

As Brethertons’ relationship counsellor I see, on a daily basis, just how difficult this experience can be on children.

As with adults, every child will have their own response to the family breakdown, but one thing is certain, all will have to undergo major changes in their lives. For the adults sometimes the change will feel positive, they will see it as an opportunity to begin a happier life, but for children it is different. In the vast majority of cases, children want their Mum and Dad to stay together forever, regardless of the circumstances, so to be told that parents are separating can be devastating for them. So, how do I break the news of our divorce to my children?

In ideal circumstances Mum and Dad will sit down with their children and deliver the news together, they will discuss beforehand what they will say, how they might deal with emotional responses and how to answer some of the questions that might come up. Hopefully they agree to support each other in this important task in order to minimise the negative impact on the children. Children need to know that they will continue to be loved by both parents and also that they will be allowed to love both parents in return. Bad partners are not necessarily bad parents and adults would do well to remember this. 

At Brethertons we pride ourselves on our ability to deal with our customer’s practical and emotional needs as well as providing expert legal advice. We recognise that the stresses and strains of difficult family circumstances can take their toll which is why we offer customers counselling as part of our family support service. A 'broken home' can be a happy home and parents should work together to ensure that they plan any communication with their children to achieve the best possible outcome.

I run a workshop, “Divorce Through The Eyes Of A Child”, which gives parents the opportunity to experience family breakdown as their child sees it and invites them to review the relationship with their ex so they can judge whether any changes need to be made in the light of what they have learned.

If you are going through a separation or divorce and wish to enquire about any of our counselling sessions available, please contact me or one of our family law experts.

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