Children and Separation

Although parents are often upset and confused at this time, it is important to try to understand what your children are going through and to consider their feelings as well.

Children have to deal with many changes and adjustments as a result of their parents separating: changes in family lifestyle, rules and discipline.

There may also be a lot of other changes, for example, a new house and a new school and a new person in mum’s or dad’s life, and perhaps fewer treats as there will be less money coming in.

To read more about separating from your partner, read our advice page. 


1. Reassure

Assure them that both parents still love them, no matter what. You may have fallen out of love with their other parent, but the children still love that person and may not understand why you are separating. Let them know that they do not have to take sides. They love both of you, so attacking or criticising the other parent hurts the children

2. Explain and be honest

Give them a simple, honest account (but not one that blames or point scores against the other parent, or gives unnecessary detail). Explain who is moving away, and when and where they will see the other parent. Tell them this was an adult decision and that they are not to blame in any way.

3. Be understanding

Be understanding if children play up or are distressed. Children need time and understanding as they adjust – many children are taken unawares when they hear their parents are separating and need a lot of assurance as they come to terms with the changes in their lives.

4. Keep it civil

Never use the children as gobetweens. Don’t ask your children to deliver messages to the other parent or say negative things about the other parent. This is damaging to the child and reflects badly on you – children find it very difficult to deliver messages and don’t want to be drawn into fights.

5. Alert family and friends

Let significant others know what is happening (ie. the school, class teacher, and the parents of their friends). These people can also watch out for your children.

6. Be respectful

Find a way to communicate politely and respectfully with your former partner and keep them informed about important matters regarding the children (health, injuries in your care, and education, for example).