Whether couples are tying the knot or creating a civil partnership, research shows that they would like a greater knowledge of divorce at the outset. In a survey conducted by One Pulse of 1,000 Brits, 60% would like to know the impact of divorce on children, while just over 40% would like to know the financial and emotional impact.
The company bridgethe-gap.org, set up journalist and broadcaster Sarah Tucker and schools liaison officer Mick Mitridate, offer one-day courses which objectively discuss the practical emotional, creative and legal aspects of divorce as well as the impact on children.
“When you are considering divorce,” says Mitridate, “you are in the middle of an emotional tsunami – both you and your partner, and you have to ask questions of yourself and them when you at your most vulnerable, angry and fragile. The course will not only support those who are considering divorce, but those who are considering marriage or partnership,” says Mick.
Here, Sarah Tucker offers top tips and insights into how divorce can affect children and things to think about before you file or during the process. “Do not for one moment think your decision to divorce will not have an impact on your children,” she says. “This is your responsibility. And has nothing to do with income, geography or culture.”
- Your children listen to everything. They hear everything, even when they tell you they are not, and even when you think they are not, they will hear. They absorb everything like a sponge. This goes from the time they are born till teenagers. We often say that platitude but fail to recognise the full impact of it. So you teach them by showing not telling.
- Children will realise there is something wrong with your relationship before you do, but will copy your sense of denial. Be aware of what you say and what you do during this period. It will have a lasting impact on them and their children. It is controversial to say, but mothers are more aware of this fact than fathers, who believe they are able to ‘box’ issues. (I am ‘divorcing’ the wife and not the children. That means nothing to the children because essentially you are seeing them less if you choose to divorce so it is a divorce. Telling them the above will just confuse).
- During divorce your attention will be distracted from your children. You will find distractions. Focus on your children. Travel with them. Enjoy them. Engage with them. If you are distracted from your children, they note this. They feel they are not enough just ‘being’ them, not just for you but for anyone. So they will feel they need to achieve, perform. They will start to believe they are only have worth if they please hard-to-please individuals (like their mum and dad). That will stick to their adult years and impact on their grown-up relationships.
- Do not introduce your new partner to your children immediately. It will be different for each relationship, but we recommend waiting eight months to a year.
- If your new partner and children do not get on, it is not a deal breaker. If the new partner does not like your children, it is a deal breaker.
- Divorce impacts on children and how they view relationships, not just how they view you. So it will have long-term effects on them and their behaviour at school. Do not be in denial about this. It is YOUR responsibility to manage this as parents. That means co-parenting effectively, communicating effectively. Leave the ego (men) and the anger (women) at the door. Your children are more important than you are at this point.
- Marriage is not for life, children are. Before you have that affair, before you find yourself being bored and hating all his or her petty habits — realise BEFORE you have children, actually BEFORE you get married — the long-term implications. Think long term. It makes the now much more effective.
- Focus on achieving financial support long term for your children. And make sure you are financially secure as well. You want to take your children on nice holidays as well as your ex husband. You do not want to be the ‘poor’ parent.
- Choose a litigator who is a technician and not an actor. You want someone who understands the law and keeps the emotion out of it. Most lawyers will tell you “couples say they are focusing on the children during divorce proceedings, but most do not.”
The one-day Bridge the Gap courses take place in January, February and March in 2017 in southwest London and Surrey, with plans to hold courses around the country later on in the year. and the Facebook page are for people who are about to get married and also considering divorce.