So, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to separate. It’s certainly not what you’d envisioned for your family, but you know in your heart that it’s the best decision. Once the shock is over, you’re confronted with the harsh reality of having to tell the children. How do you go about making this big change as smooth as possible? That’s what we’re going to look at today.
There are bound to be painful conversations with your former partner and difficult choices to make, with different ways of looking at things, but there’s one way to make sure you make the best decisions: always keep the children’s well-being in mind.
By focusing on this important aspect, you simply can’t go wrong, and you’ll find it easier to stand together with your co-parent, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the separation. If both partners put aside their personal interests and focus on the comfort and welfare of the children, it will be easier to know what to do.
The first thing to do is make a game plan. When you talk to your children, do it together. Prepare yourself so that you know what you’re going to say and are ready to answer their questions.
Here are some examples of things you need to get straight before you talk to them.
You may not have all the answers right away, but the important thing is to help your children feel as secure as possible. Try to make sure they know what to expect, at least in the short term, and above all, reassure them that the decision has nothing to do with them and isn’t anyone’s fault. You’ll still love them just as much, even though the family as you knew it will no longer exist.
Takes about 5 min.
After the separation, you will need to act as a co-parenting team and remain united in the way you raise your children, despite any differences that may exist between you as a result of the breakup.
The key, again, is to put the children’s well-being first. This should be your guiding principle when you choose what to say and do at the time of separation and whenever you have to make decisions about your children’s education in the years to come.
Thinking of the children’s well-being is extremely important, but remember to think about yourself. Take care of yourself; give yourself time to grieve and rest.
In this type of ordeal, the support of loved ones is invaluable. Keep in mind, though, that they’re emotionally involved in the situation and won’t necessarily help you see things clearly, despite their good intentions. That’s why getting support and advice from a neutral person is a very good idea. Various options are available: a coach, a psychologist, a social worker, a special educator, etc.
Did you know that you’re entitled to five free hours of family mediation with an accredited professional? He or she has all the tools to help you manage the legal aspects of your separation and set down what needs to be in writing, such as the custody agreement.
If you’re a victim of domestic violence, get a lawyer so can ensure your and your children’s safety during the separation. Leaving this type of relationship can be complex and involves risks for the person facing the abuser. Do not hesitate to consult the resources available for victims of domestic violence.
Your children will probably react to this big change, of course. How they react and how intense their reactions are can take different forms. I have a short e-book, entitled On se sépare, pas facile mais..., which provides more guidance, based on the age of your children. You can check out the first few pages of the book for free by clicking here: Preview.
Turning the page on living together as a family is certainly not easy. Emotions run high, and the changes are overwhelming, for both kids and adults. While it may be hard to imagine now, you can be sure that one day, the storm will pass and the sun will shine again. In the meantime, trust your judgement. You and your co-parent know what’s best for your children, and that’s all you need for a successful separation.
Special educator and family coach
Member of Réseau Nanny Secours
*Some conditions and limitations apply.