Last week I was invited by Tim Wheeler of BBC 3 Counties to give my views as a Child Therapist on whether parents should stay together for the sake of the children. As a product of parents who stayed together and the aftermath felt by myself and my siblings I believe that it is best that they separate – my mother stayed with my father for our sakes for a period of many years before divorcing and it was awful! It was preferable to be less well off but living in a happier house. I feel its best that they separate – bearing in mind that there is no ideal situation and children are affected in both scenarios. To live with someone who doesn’t love you is soul destroying and lowers self esteem plus the other side of the coin, being the cause of pain and having to continually witness this happening to someone you were previously close to isn’t a great position to be in either.
The separation affords everyone space and time to develop and grow in their own time and way, eventually leading to a happier, calmer and safe environment for the children to develop in. Children living in a bad atmosphere day in and day out absorb the tension and unhappiness and also get a warped view of relationships which has a long lasting effect. Everyone deserves to be happy and when the parents separate the atmosphere in the home changes usually for the better and this also filters through to the children who eventually come to terms with the situation. I was surprised that even adult children feel the after effects of divorce – my marriage broke up after thirty odd years and this changed my children’s views on marriage and trust.
I believe given the right support children can adapt. There are three important things to do IF you decide to divorce – remember that children often feel that is it something they have done or could have done so when you tell them about the divorce, reassure them that it was nothing they had done or there was nothing they could have done more to prevent it. The children also need to know how much they are loved by both parents, even though they will only be living with one of them plus they need regular contact with the non resident parent where possible (obviously in some circumstances it’s best having no contact). Finally always refrain from saying negative things about the ex partner in front of them – children will find out the ‘reality’ of both parents as they grow up and form their own opinions and quite often the parent who says bad things will find that this backfires and the children then have negative feelings towards them. If parents can remain amicable towards each other it means that important family events can be attended by both parties with civility and the children feel better as they don’t have to make a choice of who will attend, this sets a wonderful example to the children on how people can part but remain polite or even friendly towards one another.
I also aired a rather different idea – that maybe as we renew other licences on an annual basis that if we renewed our marriage licences annually this would make couples less complacent and take more care of each other focussing on more of the positive things. The renewal day could be spent celebrating the past and looking forward to the following year doing whatever constitutes a celebration for them and if a couple choose not to renew the licence they can also have closure in a way that suits them without having to go through the ordeal of a divorce. Food for though eh!!
On a final note if you are finding it difficult to cope with the situation then get professional help, after all you get your car MOT’d and serviced, your teeth & hair taken care of by professionals and some of you also go to the gym or participate in sports which is looking after your physical body and appearance, so why not look after the emotional and mental aspect of yourself . There are many different types of healers and therapists out there and one of them will suit you!
Seasonal blessings to you and all those you love,
Calm Kids, Calm Minds
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