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I welcome a website for kids whose parents are divorcing: KNBP’s response

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

In response to Tim Lott’s article, as a charity we also believe the child is the most important person in separation.

Divorce can be a hard time for the whole family. However, children can sometimes be kept in the dark regarding the divorce of their parents. As a charity that offers support to both adults and children, we encourage a better way of communicating. The child is the most important person when separation is taking place therefore it is crucial, depending on the child’s age, that they have some understanding of what is happening. Reporter Tim Lott states ‘children sense the kind of distress that leads to family breakdown and will make sense of it in their own way, sometimes disastrously.’ Interestingly, Sam Kiernan, our Senior Practitioner, agrees with this statement and refers to it as ‘Magical Thinking’. This is where if the child has not been given enough information according to age, they are unable to process what has happened therefore, there is a possibility a child will enter into something called ‘Magical Thinking’. The child will simply create their own ideas of what has happened. This can be quite unsettling to the child as their ideas could be far worse than the reality of what has actually happened. This can cause anxiety, confusion and could cause factors such as night terrors and eating disorders. Separating may cause disruption, but it is the way it is handled that can lessen the pain and confusion towards the entire family.

Sam Kiernan also touches on a loss of a loved one and how parents can inform their child of this. She statesĀ  ‘whether it be a therapist who offers therapeutic support or someone close to the child, it is important the information regarding the event (whether its the loss of a loved one or a primary carer leaving the family unit) that the child needs to be given information they can cope with for age and/or developmental stage. This can be done in many ways, as the primary carer can simply sit with the child and talk through what has happened and reassure them they are available to answer any questions. If the child does have any questions, inform the child it is ok to feel sad or angry and show them ways to deal with their feelings calmly and affectively. If the primary carer is struggling with their pain and cannot offer such to their child, then it is always useful to seek other support either another family member to guide and inform the child or a professional.

We can support separation as no-one has to get left behind. The child is more likely to deal with the situation emotionally and physically if they have some understanding.

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