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04 April 2022

Helping children in a relationship breakdown

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For more information on how to help children navigate the breakdown of your relationship, get in touch with our Family & Relationships team today on 01284 767766.

Some suggestions for supporting children through divorce or relationship breakdown from expert family lawyer Stella Robbins. Stella also looks at what might be useful reading for supporting children through a divorce or separation.

Divorce or separation will be one of the most stressful times for you and your family. And while you are struggling with your own emotions following the breakdown of your relationship you somehow have to find the emotional capacity to guide and help your children through the situation too.

This can be particularly difficult if you have children of different ages who may react in very different ways and will undoubtedly have differing needs and emotional demands. If your spouse is also being uncooperative or demanding over contact arrangements the whole situation can start to feel very overwhelming.

It can be challenging to find the right help and guidance to support you and, most importantly, your children, at this time in your lives.

If you have a supportive network of friends and family around you, perhaps grandparents or your own siblings, this can be a huge support and often children find it easier to talk to a receptive grandparent, uncle or aunt, than Mum and Dad who might get upset.

It’s also important to let your child’s school know what’s happening at home. Not only will the school then be more understanding if homework isn’t completed or is handed in late, but often children will have a teacher they feel comfortable talking to. Some schools also offer counselling services which may help your child.

There are surprisingly few books or other resources available that offer support tailored to children’s needs and which are age appropriate.

I found one picture book for small children. ‘Two Homes filled with Love’ by Steve Herman. I wouldn’t have bought this for my children. It seems to use language that isn’t age appropriate, and its main focus is on the advantage of having 2 of everything.

For the 8-11 years age range I found ‘Getting through my parents’ divorce– A Workbook for Children’ by Amy J L Baker PhD and Katherine C Andre PhD. This book might be suitable for girls of that age but as mother of 2 boys I know my boys would have seen a ‘workbook’ as homework!  They would have thought life was going from bad to worse if the divorce was something, they now had to complete a work book on.

For teenagers there is ‘Divorce Survival Guide for Kids’ by Samantha and Alexa Smith. This is written by 2 young American girls whose parents divorced (seemingly very amicably). Again, I can’t help but feel that a girl might find it more useful than a boy. There are ‘exercises’ dotted throughout it to help you analyse your emotions and there’s an upbeat, very positive feel to the book. There is quite a bit of talk about obtaining Counselling through your parents Employee Health scheme so if you do decide to buy this book for your children you may want to limit their expectations on this at the outset.

Personally, I wouldn’t have given any of these books to my children – but I fully acknowledge that every child is different, and I have no doubt that some children would find these books helpful.

At Atkins Dellow we will always take the time to listen to your concerns and if you’re worried about your children going through the divorce / separation please tell us. Whether this is something that you’re just thinking about, or are already going through, we’re very happy to speak with you and help in any way we can. We have many years of experience, both professional and personal, and will do all that we can to offer advice and support to you and your family at this difficult time.

If you are going through a breakdown in your relationship and you’ve got kids involved it can be difficult to get the situation across to them. For more information about the best way to explain a divorce or separation to children contact our team today on 01284 767766.

Where to find us

We have offices in Bury St. Edmunds, Sudbury and London.

Please note this article is provided for general information purposes only to clients and friends of Atkins Dellow LLP. It is not intended to impart legal advice on any matter. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information in this article is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy, and Atkins Dellow LLP does not accept any liability for error or omission.

© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022

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