Information about separation / divorce
Frequently asked questions about the separation / divorce of parents
- How and when do we tell our child that we are separating?
- We will split up if my child cannot already visit a RAINBOWS group?
- Should I tell the teacher about the family situation?
- My child doesn’t seem to suffer from the separation. If the problems are not created in the group?
- What is an optimal contact regulation?
- My child doesn’t want to go to the father / mother …
- How can I get involved as a father / mother even though the child does not mainly live with me?
- What can i do for myself?
How and when do we tell our child that we are separating?
Children feel the changes in their family. Support your child by informing them as soon as possible about the situation or the upcoming changes in an age-appropriate manner.
Children need timely, honest, understandable and age-appropriate information about why the parents separate. Without explanations, they are very unsettled and make their own thoughts and fantasies. These often create more fear than reality, as the children often seek to blame themselves. Children also need clarity about how their everyday life will be after the separation. A child can ask the following questions: Where will I live? When and where will I see mom or dad when he or she moves out? What will stay the same after the breakup?
Approach the conversation with tact and do not make your child an ally against the “guilty”. If possible, talk to your partner and child about the upcoming separation and avoid blaming each other. Discuss with your child what the future will look like and answer their questions to prevent anxiety.
We will split up if my child cannot already visit a RAINBOWS group?
The RAINBOWS offer offers support after the separation / divorce. The aim of the RAINBOWS group is that the children can cope better with the changed family situation. To achieve this goal, the changes must also be tangible for the child. Participation in a RAINBOWS group therefore only makes sense if the child has been in the new life situation for some time.
Should I tell the teacher about the family situation?
Critical family changes among schoolchildren can “go under” as part of school operations. Likewise, children’s reactions to the separation of parents can be misinterpreted if the teachers are not informed about the changed situation. Experience has shown that conversations with the teacher you trust lead to relief for the children and to relaxation of the relationship between the teacher and the child.
My child doesn’t seem to suffer from the separation. If the problems are not created in the group?
The separation or divorce of parents means loss experiences for every child: loss of the usual relationship, loss of the familiar environment, etc. These experiences in turn lead to irritation and imbalance. In order to restore the mental balance, every healthy child has to react to it, even if this reaction is not visible to the outside. The RAINBOWS group shows what moves the child internally. Only the individual examination of the child’s loss experience can lead to the integration of the experiences and then to the strengthening of the child’s personality.
What is an optimal contact regulation?
It is important for a child to have as much contact with both parents as possible. Ideally, the children should be able to have a lively relationship with both parents, in which everyone can participate in everyday life and in the interests of the other.
Fixed and clear times help a child better adjust to the time spent with the other parent. These agreements give children security and orientation and they also learn: “It is OK that you are with dad / mom. We both remain your parents, even if we broke up ”. In different situations, it may be helpful to exchange ideas with other parents about their regulations, questions and experiences.
Younger children should be prepared for visiting hours. Knowing when “Papa Day” or “Mommy Day” is, gives security. During puberty, the adolescent should be able to help shape the visiting times, as other contacts (meeting friends) are now also important. Clear agreements are important for all those involved, which must be checked again and again to ensure that they are up to date and, above all, that they are complied with
My child doesn’t want to go to the father / mother …
Children continue to love both parents, even if it is sometimes difficult for adults to understand. Support by counseling or mediation, in which a way is found that meets the needs of all, can be helpful for the parents. When children experience that their parents continue to talk to each other after the separation or divorce so that they can carry out their educational duties together, they learn that mother and father continue to be responsible for them, so that valuable and specific relationships with both can be maintained or develop.
Your child may come back tearful, irritable or aggressive after a visit / weekend with the father or mother. Do not let this unsettle you, because every time the child z. B. visits his father, he must separate from the mother and after spending time with the father, the child must also separate from him. It is not easy and it takes time to accept this separation situation without fear and anger. The agreed visit regulations should therefore not be abandoned.
Even if children strictly refuse contact with the father / mother, one should not ignore the visit regulations for up to 12-year-olds, but rather ask about the causes. From puberty, visit arrangements should no longer be made without the children’s participation. If the child has a stepfather / stepmother, the relationship with the birth father / birth mother must not be reduced or even ended. This new relationship does not change the importance of the relationship with his birth father / mother. Love objects are irreplaceable and the continuation of the relationship with the parent who is no longer living in the same household is important for the child’s sense of identity and for his trust in the reliability of love relationships.
How can you relieve a child in the loyalty conflict?
Children always want to please both parents and therefore face conflicts of loyalty. According to their feeling, they stand between the worlds of their parents – the "mom world" and the "papa world". Parents can avoid these conflicts by teaching their children that they can still love mom AND dad and that they don’t have to "stick" to either. Therefore:
- Avoid talking badly about the other parent in front of your child.
- Remember that the other parent also loves his child.
- Do not ask your child to make decisions for or against a parent.
- Recognize a new partner.
How can I promote my child’s relationship with the other parent??
Detaching yourself emotionally from your ex-partner and accepting and appreciating him / her at the same time as the father / mother of your child is probably a very difficult thing in the first few months after the separation or divorce. If this emotional detachment of the former partners succeeds and the view remains focused on the needs of the child, then the common parenthood is within reach.
The following conditions contribute to a positive relationship between the child and both parents:
- The parents must manage to separate the conflict with the partner from the relationship with the child during and after the separation.
- A functioning “parental” communication / cooperation and mutual exchange of information between the parents about the children.
- Take away the guilt for the separation (if the child feels responsible for the separation) by repeatedly reassuring both parents that it is not the fault of the separation.
- React quickly and, if necessary, seek help in the event of recurrence of couple conflicts.
- Both parents should enable the child to commute back and forth between the "mom world" and the "papa world" through organizational structures (especially in terms of time). Joint custody makes this easier.
How can I get involved as a father / mother even though the child does not mainly live with me?
It is not the quantity, but the quality of the time spent together that makes a sustainable relationship! The time between contacts can sometimes be long for the child. During this time, the parent who does not live in the same household can be present in stories or through current photos. The ability to make spontaneous phone calls and thus report to the parent living outside about everyday events strengthens the relationship between the child and the child. A living relationship means being part of the everyday, e.g. Doing homework, picking up the child from flute lessons, or doing something with friends.
What can i do for myself?
If I am fine, it is also good for the children. Since the new life situation costs all those affected a lot of strength, it is important and right to seek support for themselves as well.
Coping with a separation requires a lot of strength from those involved. This situation is not only stressful for the children, but also represents a great challenge for the parents. Having someone to talk to, being able to exchange ideas – that is good and helps.
Take advantage of the offer of professional help and visit a counseling center if your situation is very stressful (e.g. family counseling). Even if it is sometimes difficult: Enjoy the child-free time and do something for yourself. Treat yourself to a break from time to time to recharge your batteries. Then: If the parents are well, that also gives the children courage.
Changes take time, serenity, tolerance, patience and humor. Each family member needs time to deal with the new situation. Give your child, your ex-partner and yourself enough time to cope with the new situation. Do not put yourself or anyone under pressure to do everything right!
Recommendations for parents who separate
(to Univ.-Doz. Dr. Helmuth Figdor, Psychoanalyst, child and adolescent psychotherapist, educational advisor)
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