Guidelines for Talking with Children of Separating Parents

Do (Again and Again)

  • Speak at their age level – use their language.
  • Ask that they repeat what they understand you to have said.
  • Let them know that separation had nothing to do with them.
  • Let them know you will continue to be their father / mother.
  • Encourage expression of feelings.
  • Let them know they will be protected, fed, etc. under all conditions.
  • Maintain contact by regular visiting.
  • Be their parent; not another child.
  • Give them simple, clear, relevant information.

 Not To

  • any implication of blame in explaining why.
  • Be their child by setting them up to take care of, rescue or support you emotionally or physically.
  • Expect them to understand, accept, like or support separation.
  • Say anything negative about (ex-) spouse (an important challenge).
  • Allow children to talk negatively about spouse to you (gossip).
  • Discuss with them current problems between (ex-) spouse and self.
  • Use children to give messages to (ex-) spouse.
  • Make your visits (especially with Dad) a party.
  • Involve them in fights with your (ex-) spouse.
  • Ask child in any way to choose between his/her parents.


 CenterPoint Psychotherapy Psychology Associates, 3729 Benson Dr., Raleigh NC 27609
And Psychology Associates, 1611 East Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

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