Separated Parents – Separation is never easy for the couple, even more so for their children. Depending on the age of the children the severity of the effect from the separation can vary. Older children can understand and try to rationalize the situation, but younger children will be devastated. Attachment to primary care-givers is very important for younger children as they try to make sense of various new aspects and things being introduced into their life, they need familiarity to ground themselves, if one of their parents are no longer around, they will feel very insecure and be very fearful towards new experiences.
Separated Parents Effect on Child
Separation can happen gradually or very suddenly, but in both cases, it happens without the children’s consent. For better or worst for the parents as a couple, it will be bad either way for the children.
So, parents can help their child adapt by firstly ensuring the child that access to both parents can still occur given certain conditions be meet.
The child needs to know he/she still has both parents, and it is not the child’s fault for the separation taking place. The child needs to know they will still be loved and cared for.
Next parents can try to take note of other relationships the child used to have before the separation, example would be relationships with cousins, grandparents, relatives or close family friends. It is important to consider this relationship the child has build and try best to fulfil visit requests if the connection is strong to help with the child’s coping.
Allow some time for adapting to a new home or family structure. Help keep other aspects of their life as constant as possible.
Parents could also help their children process feelings by allowing them to ask questions, to express thoughts and emotions. Children are curious by nature and they would naturally want to understand the reasons for their life changing, to help them grasp the concept behind the separation should be emphasise.
Parents do not have to protect their children from information. Providing a sound explanation and trusting the child to take perspectives can help the child mature sooner because they would need the maturity to handle themselves better.
External questioning of the child’s family structure from friends and other sources can make the child feel incompetent and depressed if the child cannot be firm with their reasoning of not having both parents available at home as a family.
On the other hand, if there are any questions you do not know the answer to or not comfortable answering yet, you can always answer as it is without needing to lie to your children.
Lastly, for the parent with the child after separation, it will be great if you are able to grow with your children as a family. Having one less parent around is hard enough for you and your children, there are more responsibilities on you and your child is missing the interaction too. So make it a point to grow together as a team and not growing individually so that you can promote support for each other.
Share experiences and emotions, if you miss someone or when you are hurting you do not have to be strong by hiding the emotions. Sharing and engaging the emotions really helps to secure openness to feel and to be connected. Hence strengthening the bond between you and your children. Feel free to contact with our Child Psychologist in Malaysia.