A child must have a ‘home’
We can manage separation better, than we have in the past
How can you help them to adjust? This question weighs heavily on parents who are thinking of separating or are separated. Your one concern is that your child still feels loved. Usually both parents are very worried about the changes to come. Your home life changes and so does theirs.
New research in the last 20 years helps us to understand what separation means to your child and how you can do better at helping them to adjust. It helps to think about separation in the eyes of your child, when separating as the adult, you lose a partner in a separation, for children it is very different - they lose their family. We can manage separation better, than we have in the past.
Remember that your child has two parents. He/she may be your ex, but they are not an ex father or ex mother to your child. Both parents have an important and essential role to play in their child’s life. Their roles may be different but both are so important to your child’s immediate development and the person they will become in the future.
A child must have a ‘home’, this brings emotional security and confidence, where possible they should stay in the family home with the primary parent. If this isn’t possible try finding a house that is in the same neighbourhood, so that other networks are the same, ie. they catch the same school bus to school with the same children, play with the same neighbourhood friends, use the same local shops and visit the same parks. We often underestimate how important these social networks are to our children.
Children feel more secure if they have one main home and visit the other parent. Try to minimize what children carry from one home to the other. It is relatively easy to have two night lights, two teddies. Try to avoid taking clothes back n forward. Think about keeping the change simple and double accessories such as phone chargers, have one in each house. Research has showed us too that by keeping routines as similar as possible ie. bedtimes, after school arrangements that the adjustment is easier. Having said that it is okay to have differences in each home too, they can experience different food, conversations at their different homes, different tv shows.
School is also really important in offering emotional stability in a child’s life so if possible keep their school the same. Children spend at least six hours a day at school and the support from teachers and friends and the routines at school give the wonderful feeling of security to your child. So changing schools is not advised if practical. As much as we like to keep private issues to ourselves life is much easier for your child if you gently let their teachers know what is happening in their lives. Teachers can also then be on the lookout for changes in behaviour with your child, boys tend to become angry, or withdrawn and girls tend to become more teary when under stress.
It is a time of change. As a parent you can help your child to cope by keeping their home as similar as much as possible to how it has always been.