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So, you are separating and worried about your children.  As a parent you wonder what you can do to help your children as you work things out with your former spouse.  What can you do to put your children’s interests first?  Here are five ways you can support your children in separation and divorce.

  1. Recognize the Impact of Family Restructuring on your Children

 Just as you may feel a sense of loss, your children too may need time to grieve when their parents decide to separate.  Your children may also feel uncertain as the family transitions.  Reassuring children that they are loved by both their parents, letting them know the separation is not their fault, and being available to answer your children’s questions are important.  Here are some further tips to support your children as your family restructures.

  1. Educate Yourself

There are several courses you can take to learn about separation, how it affects children, and strategies to support your children.  Two courses available in British Columbia are:

A child friendly resource you may also want to view is Sesame Street Explains Divorce.

  1. Choose a Process that Minimizes Conflict

We know that intense, prolonged conflict is detrimental to children and their brain development.

The good news is that restructuring your family after separation can be cooperative if you and your former spouse are prepared to work through challenges and make compromises along the way.  Some processes that can help you work through these separation challenges without going to court are:

  1. Work with Child-focused Professionals who Put Children First

Select a lawyer who can work cooperatively in family law processes and puts your children’s interests first while helping you.

You can also work with other professionals who act in children’s best interests to keep you and your former spouse on track such as a:

  • Divorce Coach – a mental health professional who helps you, or you and your former spouse if you have a neutral coach, stay on track to achieve your goals and a positive outcome
  • Child Specialist – a neutral party who works with you, your former spouse and your child to ensure you are all working in the child’s best interests
  • Financial Specialist – a neutral party who helps you and your former spouse resolve financial issues
  • Parenting Coordinator – a neutral party who can help if you and your former spouse are having difficulty implementing an agreement you have made or a court order relating to your children
  1. Keep Your Behavior Supportive

While separation and restructuring your family can bring out strong emotions, you want to keep your communications and other behavior with your children and their other parent constructive.  There are many things you can do.

Separation and divorce does not have to take a terrible toll on you and your children.  Take time to explore your options and find the best ways to keep your children’s well-being the priority.

Suzanne S. Williams, Brown Henderson Melbye, Victoria