Christine Kutzner M.Ed., RCC - Counselling Services

Parenting Matters Printable PDF version

Volume 26, September 2010

Hello and welcome to a wet Fall! I hope all the young families have settled into their September routines and have handed in all necessary forms to the school! There are certain pet peeves that surface at this time of year and making lunches is mine!

I attended a workshop several months ago on Co-Parenting through a Separation and Divorce. There was lots of juicy information that I can share for this and next month’s newsletters.

Co-Parenting through Separation and Divorce - Part 1

When a husband and wife decide they are going to separate, there are some key points that will help them and their children get through this difficult time. First consideration is how to tell the children. Second is supporting their children’s fears and worries. And third is writing up an agreement on how the day-to-day living will work. This will provide a structure, which will help the children understand what will be different and what will be the same.

Your family constellation will change through a separation or divorce. It’s best if parents plan what they would like to share with their children. At first, give general information of what the changes will be and how this will affect them. Hopefully the parents can put aside their feelings of anger to support the feelings and concerns this news may have on their children. If you have older children, you may want to meet with them later to give more in-depth details if necessary. Keep this clear and concise, and do not include adult issues. Reassure the children that your decision to separate is not their fault. Reassure the children that they will continue to be loved by both parents. Allow time for the children to ask questions or to air their concerns and to express their feelings. They have the right to know the truth about your divorce, with simple explanations.

Once the children know about the separation, it is key for each parent to support their child’s feelings and worries on an on-going basis. It’s important to check in and find out how your child is coping. Grief around the loss of their family as they knew it will emerge over time. Help your child to understand that it is okay to love both parents without feeling guilty. Be mindful of young children and their worries at night, or their feelings of abandonment at the end of visits. Parents usually worry “how will this divorce affect our children?” The key to avoiding emotional difficulties for your children is to work in collaboration with each other. The more prolonged and conflicted the separation is, the worse the outcome is for their children.

A Parenting Plan is a framework for how parents will handle the day to day living and schedules of their children. To be useful and effective, parents need to treat a Parenting Plan like they would a legal document; something they will follow in good faith for the emotional and physical well-being of their children. The Plan should include all pertinent topics such as: daycare, visits, finances, school meetings, and holidays. It is a working Plan that requires adaptability as your children move through different developmental stages, and if parents re-marry. It can also outline how to handle conflicts, and schedule in time to periodically review the Plan as to what is working and what needs changing.

Although going through a separation/divorce evokes strong feelings for all family members, children can adapt well when given the care and attention and reassurances that they will have both their Mom and their Dad in their lives. They need permission to maintain contact with extended family, and to speak openly about how they feel about the divorce. They continue to need your love, guidance, understanding and limits.

Click here for Co-Parenting through Separation and Divorce- Part 2

Christine Kutzner Counselling Services 604-339-5774

Christine Kutzner, M.Ed. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor providing services to children, parents and families in North and West Vancouver. To inquire, contact Christine.

Copyright Christine Kutzner, 2010. All rights reserved.


Christine provides counselling services to children, parents, and
families in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.

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