How to minimise the effect of separation on children

My wife wants a divorce because she has fallen out of love with me. She won’t get counselling or agree to a trial separation, but I would like counselling to help me cope with losing my wife and daughter. As I live in the country, where can I go for help? Also, how do I help my three year old daughter deal with the separation in a way that will not affect her attitude to relationships?

Your marriage is over. Your wife no longer has the energy to keep investing in a future together. Once someone reaches this point, rarely is there any turning back.

Your wife cannot see any use in counselling because she doesn’t want the marriage anymore. In truth, the relationship between the two of you continues on, in a limited form, simply because you have a daughter together.

Joint counselling is often helpful during separation. It gives you both a safe and supportive environment where the details of property, finances and your child’s future can be arranged. Failing that, individual counselling can help you come to terms with your loss.

Most large country towns have professionals who do counselling. Your local doctor should be able to recommend someone. Phone counselling is also a possibility. Some city psychologists will conduct counselling sessions over the phone. Call or check websites to check availability and cost. We do counselling by phone or via Skype. Also, search Government services on the web.

Your daughter will benefit if you seek counselling. Most of us carry emotional baggage that impedes our ability to give love and receive love. And children from divorce need to feel secure and loved.

Some basic rules on how to minimise the damage to children in divorce have been tried and tested over time and they still hold true.

Never make negative comments about the other parent to the child. Doing so causes great anguish to the child and creates insecurity. Children will work out the best way to relate to each parent over time and they need the space to do this. Negative comments come from a bitter and unforgiving parent. As the child grows up, she will figure this out and it can rebound on you.

Tell the child as much as she can handle. The best way to know how much a child can handle is her questions. Each time she asks a question give her a brief, honest answer. If she needs more information, she will ask. Over time, she will want more information. Give it to her when she inquires.

Children’s need for security means they thrive best when there is consistency and stability in their lives. Regular contact times and as little disruption as is reasonably possible works best. Let the child know of any plans that involve her.

Children benefit when their divorced parents are friendly and co-operative. It’s great if they can work together on what is best for the child. Showing respect for the role of the other parent deeply reassures the child. Of course, this is only possible where there is mutual respect. After the pain of separation, we usually need to practice forgiveness and understanding to reach this position.

Children always blame themselves for anything bad happening in their lives. This is a survival mechanism that has evolved over millions of years. Reassure your daughter, many times, that the separation is not her fault.

This is a challenging time for you but you are making all the right moves. You are asking for help and endeavouring to protect your daughter. And you are wisely seeking counselling for yourself. With time, you will get through this.

Struggling with your mental health? North Brisbane Psychologists can help. Book an appointment today!