Your children may be impacted in various ways by your separation or divorce, including short-term emotional experiences, with manageable effects, to toxic stress that may have serious, life-long consequences.
As a separated parent, you and your spouse will have the additional task of supporting your children through your family change and then parenting as a divorced family.
Your children’s needs, after separation, may increase or change. Because of this, many parents find it necessary and helpful to seek out information and support, to help keep their family and children healthy and thriving.
For many reasons, it can be difficult to see fully the effect of your separation on your children and know how best to support them. Knowingly or not, your children may experience feelings they do not understand or keep their feelings from you or your spouse. A child may also not understand what they are experiencing and may act out without knowing the reason.
It can be additionally difficult to identify and meet your children’s specific needs when you are under increased stress or your resources are stretched thin.
You and your spouse can help to keep your children out of the middle of your conflict and divorce.
Each family and child are unique. There are, however, things that all parents can consider when supporting their children while going through a divorce. These include:
1. Do not pass messages through your children.
2. Educate yourself on how to parent after separation.
3. Have a way to productively communicate with your spouse about your children.
4. Do not talk to your children about the legal issues or proceedings.
5. Foster a positive relationship between your children and your co-parent.
6. Do not use your children to process your feelings about your spouse.
7. Do not use your children to punish your co-parent.
8. Have your child meet with a child psychologist.
Hearing from the Child Psychologists
We sat down with some of Calgary’s leading child psychologists to get some tips directly from them on how to keep children out of the middle of the divorce. This is what they said:
Rejecting a parent is a potentially harmful outcome for children and should not be.
Protect your children from toxic stress.
Divorce is a common trigger for toxic stress in children that can harm the brain at any point in development. Eventually, this toxic stress can affect lifelong learning, social abilities, and health.
Learn more about:
For more information, visit the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative.
Take the Parenting After Separation Course
This course is for parents or guardians who are separating or getting a divorce. Sometimes the course is required, but you can also voluntarily take it.
Tools like Our Family Wizard or a parenting journal that is shared between parents
This course is for parents or guardians who are separating or getting a divorce. Sometimes the course is required but you can also voluntarily take it.
The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) facilitates research into early brain development as well as addiction and mental health treatment and applies this research to policies and practices that support positive lifelong health outcomes.