Divorce and Children

Child running outdoors

Ensuring that children are able to get through the trauma of a divorce is a major priority. A difficult situation will be eased by following these recommendations:

- Both the partners should tell the children about the decision to divorce as soon as possible. Ideally the parents will explain to the children together, and in private. Reassurance about visiting and living arrangements should be given at this very difficult time, to ensure that the children are not panicking or worrying needlessly.

Keep conflict behind closed doors; children will be frightened by their parents' feelings of anger and betrayal.

Never, ever, be tempted to confide in children; you will eventually have the maturity to recover from, and gloss over, the raw details of your marriage's collapse, but they will not.

Lavish love and attention on your children, and reassure them that the collapse of the marriage was not their fault.

Keep all references to your ex-partner respectful, bland and rage-free. When feelings are raw this can be overwhelmingly difficult, but do your best to concentrate on pragmatic arrangements (visits, transport, holidays) and unleash the emotional baggage on your friends, family or counsellor.

Do your best to maintain routines and rituals, ensuring that post-divorce family life has stability and continuity.

Be unfailingly polite to your ex-partner in front of the children. This is an occasion when good manners really can help to mask destructive emotions, and biting back bitter remarks and keeping your cool will make everyone more calm and relaxed.

Never quarrel about financial arrangements in front of the children. Any disputes about money should not become intertwined with access arrangements - denying an erring partner access to the children will only succeed in punishing the entirely innocent victims.

Unless you know them really well and trust them implicitly, don't confide the murkier details of your marriage break-up to parents of your children's friends. You never know how discreet they will be, and embarrassing and upsetting secrets may find their way back - probably greatly distorted and exaggerated - to your children.

See Dating with Children

See Children and a New Relationship

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