July 27

How to Navigate the Early Stages of Separation


If you're early on in the stages of separation/divorce, our hearts are with you.

Now, getting down to the logistics... a necessary part of divorce... right now you have ample opportunity to make sure it goes smooth sailing- presently and for the long haul. Too often, separating parents fail to get the proper support they need, individually and as a separating couple. It is a very delicate time, and can easily get steered in the wrong direction if you not handled consciously.

Divorce can & will be a difficult time for everyone involved, but most especially for the children. Even if your child knows their parents are better off separated, they still have to grieve the loss of their parents as beloved partners. As a parent, it's imperative that your children feel loved and supported during this transitional period. Here are some tips on how to help your children feel secure during the early stages of divorce, that will benefit them in the long run:

  1. Keep communication open: It's important to talk to your children about what's going on, but also to listen to their concerns and feelings. Encourage them to express themselves and validate their emotions. Reassure them that the divorce is not their fault and that they are loved.
  2. Prevent the 'sides' game: If there is high tension and conflict within the marriage, the last thing you want to do is take that out on the children. More specifically, putting them in a position to have to decide who is the better parent is a recipe for disaster. If a partner had an affair and that is what led to a decision of separating, yet they want shared custody and have been a good parent- the other partner needs to let them. Oftentimes the affair can be used as a reason to withhold custody, which is really just the trauma and pain from the other partner in the relationship saying 'you hurt me so I am going to hurt you.' Doesn't make it right, but the partner needs to understand that they did in-fact hurt them, and to navigate this with ease and empathy. The partner threatening custody needs to first and foremost learn to process the trauma and pain and separate the role of spouse from parent.
  3. Maintain routines: Children thrive on routines, so try to keep their daily routines as consistent as possible. This includes meal times, bedtimes, and extracurricular activities. This can help them feel more secure and in control during a time of uncertainty. If either one or both parents are moving out of the marital home, chat with the child about the upcoming changes and quickly develop a new routine and even start a whiteboard calendar for them to visually see what and how to expect the new schedule. 
  4. Prioritize quality time: Spend quality time with your children, especially now one-on-one, will be important. This can help them feel loved and valued. Whether it's playing board games, going for a walk, or watching a movie, make sure they know they are a priority. If possible, try an activity altogether as a family so they know you are on the same team.
  5. Limit the guilt buying: Oftentimes parents feel so guilty for the divorce that they feel they need to buy the child's love, whether to win sides or to make the child feel better in general. While gifting is a love language and OK every once in a while, bombarding them with gifts during a delicate time sends the wrong message and is not helping or changing the situation at all. 'Money can't buy happiness' applies here. Instead, partake in shared activities together, treat them to a fun activity, pick out new room decor, etc. 
  6. Don't rush to have the kids meet a new partner: This should be obvious... but your kids must first grieve the loss of their parents' marriage, and get used to spending one-on-one time with each of you, before adding a new person into the mix. 
  7. Take care of yourself! This is critical. You cannot fill from an empty cup. Take care of your mindset, emotions, triggers, health, wellness, the like. And remember, just because you miss your child while they are with their other parent (this is especially hard in the early stages) doesn't mean they should miss out on time with the other parent.... Don't let your grief get in the way of their other parent-child relationship. So, take care of yourself during those times. Have fun, but also focus on being productive. Find the balance between time with yourself or friends (take advantage of it!) and prioritizing your wellbeing for your child's return. 
  8. Seek help & support: If your child (and yourself) is struggling to cope with the divorce, consider seeking professional help so you have proper guidance and a healthy skillset moving forward. Our trained coaches are skilled in providing just that.

Divorce is no walk in the park. By providing love and support, you can help your children navigate this difficult time and emerge stronger on the other side. The one thing the CCPI team members proclaim, is that they wish their parents had the support early on that we give to parents, when they went through their divorce. So ask yourself, what do you want your future child to thank you for?


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