5 Golden Rules for Nurturing Your Children through Separation and Divorce: Guest Post

Guest Post: By again for Glenda Lux M.A., R. Psych.

It is no secret that separation and divorce can be tough on kids. It can be a difficult and confusing time for them as they try to navigate through the changes in their family dynamic. As a parent, it's important to remember that your children's well-being should be your top priority during this time. Here are five golden rules for nurturing your children through separation and divorce.

Communicate Openly and Honestly with Your Kids

One of the most important things you can do for your children during a separation is to communicate with them openly and honestly. Let them know what is happening and why. Children need to feel secure, and knowing what is happening can help ease their anxieties.

One way to explain separation to young children is to tell them that, sometimes, the love between adults can change or end - even if they try hard to make it work. But the love between parents and children is different. It is the strongest love that exists, and it can never break. No matter what happens between adults, your parents love is forever and will always be there.

Reassure your children no matter what age, that they are still loved and that both parents will be involved in their lives. Not only do children need to know that they are going to be ok, but they also need to know their parents are going to be ok too.

When communicating with your kids, be sure to use age-appropriate language. They need to be able to understand what is going on, but you don't want to overwhelm them with too much information. Be prepared to answer their questions and be honest without oversharing. They do not need to know the details of why the separation has happened, who you think is to blame, and they do not need to know the details of legal proceedings.

It's also important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings. Active listening without judgement is key to building trust and helping your children feel heard.

Create a Safe Space for Children's Emotions and Addressing Concerns

It's essential to let your children know that it's okay to feel sad, angry, scared or any other feeling. They need to know that their feelings are valid, and that it's okay to express them. Encourage them to talk about their emotions and help them find healthy ways to express themselves. For some children this can be done through writing, drawing, or talking with a trusted adult.

It's important to create an emotionally safe space for your children to talk. Let them know that you are there to support them, no matter what. Avoid dismissing or minimizing their emotions, even if you don't agree with them.

Additionally, it is important to emphasize to children that their feelings are not only valid but also temporary. Let them know that it's normal to experience a range of emotions during the process of separation, and that these feelings will evolve and change over time. Assure them that you are there to listen and support them throughout the journey, providing a consistent and understanding presence. Encourage them to ask questions and express any concerns they may have, reinforcing the idea that open communication is key to navigating the changes together as a family.

When children face the prospect of separation, they may worry that it will bring about overwhelming and unpredictable changes in their lives. While you may not have all the answers about every aspect of the upcoming changes, it is important to address their concerns and offer reassurance. Let them know that certain things will remain constant, such as their school, their friendships, and their activities (if you have that information). For young children it can be helpful to highlight seemingly obvious but reassuring details, like their favorite food staying the same, their favorite color remaining unchanged, and their beloved toys staying with them. By acknowledging these familiar and cherished elements, we can provide a sense of stability amidst the uncertainty, helping children feel more secure during the transition.

Encourage a Relationship with the Other Parent

Even if you're not on the best of terms with your ex, it is important to encourage a healthy relationship between your children and their other parent. Children benefit from having a positive relationship with both parents, and it is important to put your differences aside for their sake. Encourage your children to spend time with their other parent and support their relationship.

One way to encourage a relationship with the other parent is to be flexible with your co-parenting schedule. Try to work together to create a schedule that works well for everyone involved. This can help minimize conflicts and make it easier for your children to spend time with both parents.

It's also important to avoid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your children. Doing so places unnecessary stress and anxiety on them, leading to confusion and loyalty conflicts. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of their relationship with their other parent. Encourage open communication and a respectful attitude towards the other parent, emphasizing that they are loved and valued by both parents.

Don't Make Them Choose Sides

One of the most important rules to remember during a separation is to never make your children choose sides. It's not fair to put them in the middle of your disagreements, and it can cause them a great deal of stress and anxiety. Your children should never feel like they have to choose between you and their other parent. Encourage them to love and respect both parents equally.

Be mindful of how you talk about the other parent in front of your children. Avoid using them as a sounding board for your frustrations or grievances. Instead, seek out support from a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend.

If your children do express a preference for one parent over the other, try not to take it personally. It's natural for children to have preferences and affinities, and it doesn't mean that they love one parent more than the other. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings and reassure them that they don't have to choose sides.

Spend Quality Time with Your Kids

During a separation, it's important to let your children know that they are still a priority in your life. Spend quality time with them. Let them know how much you love and appreciate them. This can be as simple as playing a board game together or going out for ice cream. Your children need to feel loved and valued, and spending time with them is one of the best ways to show them that you care.

Make an effort to create special memories with your children. Plan activities that you can all enjoy together and be present in the moment. Put away your phone and other distractions and focus on spending time with your kids. It is important to remember that not everything is about the divorce and spending quality time with your kids helps bring this into perspective.

It's also important to be consistent with your parenting. Follow through on your commitments, and be reliable, dependable and honour your promises. This can help your children feel more secure and stable during this difficult time.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you or your children are having a hard time coping with the separation, don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counselor. They can provide valuable support and guidance during this difficult time. Don't be afraid to ask for help – it's a sign of strength, not weakness.

Therapy can be an important part of the healing process for both you and your children. A therapist can provide a neutral space for your family to work through your emotions and develop coping strategies.

If your children are resistant to therapy, consider seeking out support groups or other resources for families going through separation and divorce. These can provide a sense of community and shared experiences that can be helpful in navigating this challenging time.

Nurturing your children through separation and divorce requires patience, understanding, perspective and a willingness to put your children's needs first. By following these 5 golden rules, you can help your children navigate through this challenging time. Remember, your love and support are the most important things you can provide for your children – and that will never change.


Glenda Lux, M.A., R. Psych. , is a psychologist with 20 years of clinical experience helping parents, children, and families navigate complex family dynamics. Glenda earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Calgary and a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from Gonzaga University. Glenda has provided expert testimony in both Provincial Court and the Court of King’s Bench, informing decisions on children's best psychological interests. She is also recognized for her significant contributions to understanding coercive control within the context of Canadian family law.

In addition to her academic and professional achievements, Glenda is the innovator behind the Co-Parenting College , an online course and resource designed to help parents stay sane, be wise, and give their kids what they need as they navigate the often difficult terrain of separation, divorce, and co-parenting. As a specialist in divorce and post-divorce family dynamics, Glenda also provides a range of divorce-related services, including parent mediation, parent coordination, co-parenting counselling, and reunification therapy.

Whether you're seeking guidance in co-parenting, mediation, legal proceedings, or any other aspect of separation or divorce, Crossroads Law is here to assist. Reach out to us today to book your complimentary consultation and let us support you on this journey. Together, we can ensure that your children's well-being and your peace of mind remain the paramount priorities.

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.