What do teenagers/children like their parents to understand during separation/divorce?
These tips can help you, as a parent, to understand a little bit more about life from a young person’s perspective during and after parental separation.
Talk About What Is Going On
Please don’t assume that you know what is good for your children without even stopping and talking to them and hearing their opinions.’
‘Don’t assume that we are OK even if we say that we are. How can we be OK when everything has changed and is a mess and nothing is actually OK anymore?’
‘Find out what your children are thinking. Why should they care about what you think if you don’t care enough to find out about what they think?
’‘Don’t assume that you know and understand how your children feel about something when you haven’t asked them and they haven’t told you.’ ‘Parents should not expect their children to fit in with their schedule, without first talking about it with them.’
'Even though you don’t talk to us about what is going on, this does not mean we are not aware of it. When the house is full of different moods between us all, it is difficult to manage.’
‘It is really frustrating when you pretend that everything is alright and nobody talks about anything at all.’ ‘Don’t tell your children that everything is going to be the same and OK. You might want to believe it, but it is a lie.’
COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER
‘Please find a way to keep in touch with each other and communicate about us without using us as your messengers.’ ‘It is really difficult for us when you refuse to talk to each other. We know there are reasons but we wish that you could sometimes talk about us, as parents, and leave the other things aside for a while.’‘When you give us a message to pass on, it means we get all the person’s emotion and reaction to the message, if it’s something they don’t want to hear.
This is not fair and is really annoying.’‘Sometimes it is like you are competing against each other to be the best and most responsible parent. There’s no fun being in a family like this.’ ‘Please don’t use us to play your games between each other. We wish that you could both be on the side of the family.’
BE HONEST & CONSISTENT IN WHAT YOU TELL US‘
As parents, you each expect us to trust what you tell us. If you each give different messages, then we end up trusting neither of you.’ ‘If you are going to give us important information, please try and give it to us together so that there are no wires crossed and everyone hears the same thing.’‘Sometimes parents try to make things easier for us by telling us half truths.
In the end, we prefer honesty.’‘The only details I ever got about my parents’ divorce were about money and financial things. Those details made things worse. Parents should think carefully about what details they give their children.
BE MINDFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT EACH OTHER‘
Please don’t criticise my other parent in front of me. I hate it when you both do that. Genetically, I am 50% of each of you. When you rubbish each other, it feels like you are rubbishing part of me.’ ‘If I do something that you don’t like, then I always hear, “You’re just like your mother” or “You got that habit from your father”.
Sometimes it is as though I only hear what’s wrong with me from both of you.’‘Don’t ever tell your children that everyone would be better off if the other parent was dead. Even though one parent is not living at home, at least they still have both their parents.’
SPEND TIME WITH US
‘It is hard for us to work out how to have a relationship with a parent who is not living at home. You need to show us.’ ‘It is important that we have some time on our own with you and not just always all of us children together. Usually we spend Wednesdays with Dad but sometimes I would like it to be just me and him.’
Parents should make time for their children. Especially in the beginning, they should make an effort and pick up their children rather than expecting the kids to get to them. When parents do this, it makes their children feel that they really want to see them, rather than it just being an arrangement parents have to keep up.’
If there has been a gap in time between you and your kids talking to each other, then you should remember that they have probably changed because of the experience too and things aren’t the same as when you spoke to them last.’
When parents (non-resident) spend time with their children, they need to try a bit harder to have a good time. When I see my dad he always seems down and talks of missing me and I feel guilty. I have to keep telling myself that it’s not my fault and I don’t need to feel guilty. I wish he could just enjoy being with me a bit more when we are together.’ ‘When you are with us, you are not babysitting. You are being our parent. Don’t make us feel like we are just a babysitting job to you.’
‘Time with your parent is what you need to build a relationship. Time is what is valuable. Looking back that is what was missing and now it is so much harder.’ ‘If you want a relationship with your child, just show them love and make an effort.’ ‘It’s little things that make good memories.
We might benefit from both of you wanting to get us stuff but it is the little things that you do with us that mean the most.’ ‘The weird thing about my family was that, before they separated, my parents were always busy and away and didn’t want me around. Now that they’ve separated, they both keep fussing and wanting to “make time”
'I think what I feel most sad about is that my family separated before I ever had the experience of living as a family the way I thought a family would.’ ‘I wish Dad knew how much I miss him but what makes me saddest is that, even if he knew, I don’t think it would make any difference.’
'Please remember that, as we get older, our plans at weekends change too. We still want to spend time with you but we also don’t want to miss out on a party. Please be prepared to be flexible and understand this.’ ‘If your plans change for seeing me, then please give me an option of a different time to meet. Don’t just cancel.’
Email Sandra or phone 087 224 9845 for confidential help.