How children deal with separation
While it’s inevitable that children experience some loss after their parents separate, research has shown that they will handle separation much better when they are not involved in the conflict between their parents.
Children can experience a range of different emotions when their parents separate and all children will deal with separation differently.
For example, for older teenagers things such as sports and friendships may become more important than spending time with their families, while for younger children you might find they want to spend a lot more quality time with a parent.
There are some common worries children may express when their parents are separating, these can include:
- Fears of abandonment − For example “Mum/Dad might stop talking to me like they stopped talking to dad/mum.”
- Worries about family changes – For example, “Where will we live?” “Will I still get to see Grandma?”, “Will I have to change schools?”
Children can have difficulty expressing their worries and tend to demonstrate them through their behaviour, which can be difficult to understand.
As an example, anger is often an expression of hurt and one way of helping is to encourage them to talk about their feelings.
It is important to remember too that while children may take time to adjust to separation, it is always better that they are away from tension or arguing that may have occurred in the home before.