EXCLUSIVE: World Mental Health Day 2022 – How To Tell Your Child You Are Getting Divorced, Precautions To Take

World Mental Health Day 2022: Divorce or separation from your partner is never easy and it becomes all the more difficult when you are a parent. At a time when you are going through a rough time and are most likely experiencing emotional trauma, you also need to take care of your children’s well-being. The mental health of the child and your own mental health must be taken care of. On World Mental Health Day, we spoke with Reema Ahmad, NLP Life Coach, Counselor, Trauma Healer and author of “Unparenting-Sharing Awkward Truths with Curious Kids” about how to deal with children when you are divorcing.

‘Your ex will always be connected to your child’

Ahmad says the first thing to remember is that while your partner will soon become an ex or you no longer share a life with him/her, your child is always and will remain connected with your ex-partner at birth. “That’s something you can’t and shouldn’t interfere with, no matter how hard and how bitter the divorce is. It can be very difficult in many cases, especially when there is a lot of negativity. But as much as possible, keep in mind that your child has the right to associate with the other parent and will always be connected to the other parent, so make sure that the child is not overloaded and there is not much negativity towards the other parent because of what you have lost because of your experiences. It can be very difficult to do this as there is usually a lot of suffering and grief around divorce, but we must remember that children are not emotionally mature enough to carry our burden, so keep children’s emotional well-being a priority. and neutralize as much as possible and find someone else to share your problems with so that your child is not burdened,” says Ahmad.

‘Take care of your child and your own mental health’

When it comes to a child’s mental health, Ahmad says we must first accept that no matter how much we try, the child’s mental health will be compromised. Their reality – the world as they knew it, the family as they knew it – is going to change completely. “There’s nothing you can do to prevent that because you’re breaking up. What you can do is make sure the child has access to a support system – friends, someone who is older, and go for counseling if necessary. Also make sure that you can bring in an influx of family and friends and bring joy to your home wherever you are; you need to make sure all discussions in the house aren’t mostly about divorce or separation, because that can get overwhelming,” says Ahmad. Parents should also make sure that they take care of their emotions separately. You can think of seeking therapy, joining divorce support groups, or having friends to share their grief with so they don’t bring it into their relationship with their child.

Divorce: Revealing the Truth to Children

Revealing tactics will vary with age and parents need to consider many factors. Ahmad suggests that if it’s a toddler, you don’t need to tell the child much. But at the same time, you need to make it clear to the child that changes will come in their life and prepare them for it. Also, both parents should tell the child the same thing to avoid confusion. “If the child is young, try not to give too many details. But as the child grows up, they will ask targeted questions. Say what you feel comfortable with and what you think is safe and relevant for him. It is best not to share certain intimate details – unless you think they are much older than they can handle – because they can be very traumatic for children,” says Ahmad. She adds that every case is different, and if the child’s life is affected by the actions of the other parent, they can ask focused questions about the past. If the child is older, a parent can share some details. But a child should not be forced to choose between two parents – they should not feel the need to pick one side and decide that someone is right and wrong.

Divorce Parents

(Photo: Pixabay)

‘Children will express anger, parents must be careful’

The most common reaction in children is anger, and it is expressed in the strangest of ways, Ahmad says. Divorce can mean moving, moving out of the family home, sometimes even the city. “So the loss is not just the loss of not seeing the other parent in everyday life, but the loss of other things that come with it. For example, the loss of the family structure, the familiarity of home and the familiarity of the city, it often comes with losing friends, school and neighborhood. These are all complicated and big problems,” says Ahmad.

It is important to note that children do not have the vocabulary to express their loss, and their grief can manifest in the form of anger, loss of appetite and sleep. Ahmad points out that a child can also feel a lot of anger towards the parent they live with because they can feel that you are the one who made the decision and that they suffer because of it. For older children there may be withdrawal, there may be anger. Sometimes children react later as they get older and begin to understand things better. “So while for the most part, divorce is being normalized — and it should be, no two people should be forced to live together if they’re unhappy — but at no point should we make the mistake of thinking it’s okay.” It IS a big problem So care and attention are needed and parents have a big role to play in how loving and tender the child remains, and how much anger they feel If you constantly complain about your ex-partner over details about your married life to share of the child, it will be very difficult, they will be forced to take sides, they feel guilty, very ashamed because children often feel that what is wrong in their parents’ lives is because of them. And later they may blame you for their suffering, so try to find a way to co-parent and make sure the child feels loved and cared for by both parents, no matter how difficult it may be.”

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