Family Relationships After a Separation
Family relationships after a separation can be complicated and even painful if both parents don’t make an effort to create a suitable family environment. An important premise is to assume that a separation doesn’t mean the end of the family and that, despite the existence of more than one home, the family is still united.
Family relationships after a separation
Generally, a divorce is painful and complex for both the spouses and children. Once some time has passed, wounds begin to heal and the family members begin to adapt to the new situation and feel that “normal” feeling again. However, if the ex spouses have a toxic and hurtful relationship, this won’t happen.
Certainly, a divorce can be really painful. However, as psychiatrist Arturo Roizblatt mentions, generally, the conflicts between the ex-spouses are what harms children, not the separation itself.
In most cases, divorce can lead to a radical change that turns a negative family situation into a positive one if both parents make an effort to keep the children out of conflict.
“If you make life hell for your ex, you also make life hell for your children.”
– Virginia Gilbert –
It’s essential for children to know that, despite the existence of two different family homes, they’re still part of a family. Strange as it may seem, the children of divorced parents may feel feelings of responsibility and guilt. Therefore, they need to know that both parents will continue to love them and that they’re still a family.
Rules to save family relationships after a separation
- Don’t argue in front of your children, even on the phone.
- Develop a cordial relationship with your ex-partner. Try to establish a relationship as friendly as possible.
- Don’t speak badly about your ex-partner with your children. Refrain from criticizing or speaking about your ex’s behavior and lifestyle with your children. Lean on and vent with your friends.
- Establish a routine. Despite the existence of two family homes, it’s important for children to maintain the same routine in both homes. Thus, the ex partners should jointly agree on this routine. Also, this way, children will feel less anxious and calm, as they know what to expect.
- Deal with the separation with ease and sincerity. Also, anticipating potential difficult or hurtful questions is very beneficial, as you can carefully plan the conversation. On the other hand, when children are very young, they don’t need to know too much information. In fact, they’ll want to know more details if they’re older.
How do children react after a separation?
Children will need time to assimilate the separation and face their new family life. Even if the divorce was handled with great care, it’s normal for children to respond with some problematic behaviors.
- Anxiety. The loss of their current family lifestyle could be the biggest change they’ve had to deal with in their life, and this will make them feel anxious.
- Thus, abandonment or loss of interest in favorite activities such as hobbies, sports, or hanging out with friends may manifest.
- Sadness. The loss of family union will cause deep feelings of sadness and may even lead to possible depression.
- Poor school performance, due to lack of concentration or lack of emotional instability.
- Anger. Children, especially younger ones, feel that their parents are being selfish by divorcing and that they’re the only ones who are hurt.
- Eating or sleep disorders.
Mediation: a great help for family relationships after a separation
The Union of Families Association (UNAF) states that, when a couple separates, their children don’t stop having a family but come to relate to it differently.
For UNAF, family mediation after separation is effective and healthy for children. For them, its goal is to reach agreements, voluntarily and by consensus, to avoid a judicial dispute on children-related matters.
It’s perfectly normal for children to exhibit problematic behaviors or emotional instability after a separation. Nevertheless, this depends on each child’s personality. Likewise, with time and professional help, children will adapt to their new family lifestyle and will learn to appreciate it.