What Do We Tell our Children?

by: Maria Curran | Website

What Do We Tell our Children?

As with any difficult news, there is never truly a “good time” to explain too your children that you will be separating. It does help though, to choose a time when they will be able to process the information and come back with questions later as they begin to digest the situation. Telling them on a Friday evening or Saturday morning allows them the weekend to do so without the pressure of school and other back-to-back commitments.

Ideally both parents are present during the discussion to reassure the children that they are both committed to on-going co-parenting, and that while the family will be restructured, they will still be a family. Regardless of the facts leading to a decision to separate, children only need to know that Mom and Dad have decided to separate and that neither is a “villain” or “victim”. This allows the children to focus on their own feelings and needs without assuming that they need to align with one parent over the other or take on the arduous task emotional care-taking of one of the parents. They do not need to know the details or reasons other than a general explanation, even if they ask you to explain. Parents model healthy boundaries when they respond that the details are private adult matters and the kids don’t need to know them. What they need to know is that both parents will continue to love and care for them.

They will likely have questions about the up-coming changes such as who will move out and how parenting time will be spent. Having a few answers before telling the children about the separation may help ease their anxiety.

Maria Curran Ph.D., LPCS-Master’s level is a professional counselor and consultant with over 22 years of experience working with children, teens, adults and families utilizing expressive arts, play therapy, filial and reunification therapy as well as more traditional “talk” therapy. She is the director of the Center for Creativity and Healing, PC.