“I am 44 years old with two children, 14, and 16 years. Due to long standing problems with my husband such as personality clashes, inability to communicate with each other and other compatibility issues, I am on the verge of separating and likely to get divorced. I am deeply concerned about the impact of this situation on my children.
What is the best way to handle this?”
The breakup of a family unit always brings with it emotional turmoil and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness for all the family members.
Most of the times the kids end up feeling responsible for the parents separation and carry guilt, they could also suffer from adjustment issues with the new normal that is presented to them after separation. While no one can completely prevent the damage, there are definite steps that you and your husband can take to minimise the impact.
First and foremost, make it easy for the children to love both the parents. That means that neither one of you should express your negative feelings towards each other in front of the children. While you are uncoupling, you are still co-parents and that should continue. Secondly, repeatedly tell them that they are loved by both parents equally and what is happening between the parents has got nothing to do with them. It is no way their fault. Thirdly, kids are not stupid, they can sense the vibe between the parents. So tell them the truth that you are no longer getting along and how you both might be better off living separately.
Encourage them to talk about their feelings about this situation.
There are also some ‘DO NOT DO’ points.
A lot of times when couples separate, they are still curious about each other’s lives. They end up asking children to literally spy on the other. So firstly, do not get your children to do that. Maintain a cordial relationship and ask questions directly. Secondly, do not make children your messengers – go tell your dad this. Or when you see your mother, tell her I said this. This indicates to the children that you are not capable of having a civil conversation. They will imbibe this and carry this behaviour to their own relationships. Lastly, there is a tendency of the parents to compete for the love and preference of the children. So it becomes a competition to bribe them with bigger, better gifts. This does not serve the kids in any way whatsoever.
So the key is to remind yourselves everyday that you are not husband and wife anymore, but you are still co-parents and you are still a team with a mission to raise world class citizens.
My best wishes to you.
Sasha Shruti Varma is one of the leading Psychotherapists in India. She is a licensed practitioner in India and the UK registered with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. As a practitioner of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, she likes to combine the principles of Yogic Philosophy in her psychotherapy work. Sasha is also a leading Trainer and Coach for Emotional Intelligence in the corporate world.
If you have a question for her please write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.