Getting through divorce: How to minimise disruption for the children
A couple’s relationship status may change, but their bond with the children should remain unaffected. Psychologists advise how children can be shielded from the negativity of parents’ separation.sex and relationships Updated: Jun 15, 2017 17:55 IST
Every relationship has its own share of obstacles — some overcome them; some are ruptured. There is no ideal situation after separation, but one has to make the effort of protecting the children, if there are any, from the chaos and negativity of this phase in one’s life.
Divorce proceedings sometimes happen by mutual consent, and in such cases, the parents are able to sit down with the children and explain everything without bitterness. However, even if there is friction between two separating partners, they need to keep things civilised in front of the children.
These are things one should always keep in mind:
• Blame game and fault-finding should be avoided in front of children. Accept each other’s flaws and move out of the relationship with grace. “There is no point bad-mouthing [each other] in front of the child, because good, bad or ugly, a parent remains a parent for the child,” says clinical psychologist Ekta Soni of Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
• Communicate with children openly. It won’t be easy to make them understand such a situation, but it is equally important to let them know why the parents / guardians have taken the decision to end the relationship. The quality of communication has a lot of impact on a child’s behaviour.
• Both the parents are equally important to children and, therefore, their special days are days that should be jointly celebrated. Psychologist Ekta Soni suggests, “Whether it’s an achievement, sports day or annual day, both parents should attend and celebrate these days together. This way, the child doesn’t feel neglected nor do they feel the family equation has changed.”
• Whichever parent gets the child’s custody should encourage the child to meet the other parent often. Regardless of the legally conferred visitation rights, a child should have the freedom to visit whichever parent they want to, whenever they want to. Regularly seeing both parents is crucial for child’s mental well-being, to fill the vacuum created by the separation. The lack of such contact can make the child suffer from depression. As counsellor Hena Akhtar says, “Time, space, freedom, respect and communication nurtures a relationship, keeping it healthy. It conveys a good message to the child, making the child more confident.”
• If possible, go on family vacations and outings. This holiday may no longer mean for you what it did earlier, but for the children, it means a sense of security, which keeps them motivated and happy. For them, this family holiday can be like therapy to deal with the separation pangs.