A question we are frequently asked is “how do I help my children handle our separation?” There is no singular answer to this. Every child is different, every household is different, and every parent is different; there are a lot of variables to consider.
John Hoffman wrote an article entitled “Kids and Divorce: An Age-By-Age Guide” (click here) which appeared on the Today’s Parent website in June, 2006. The information provided in that article is still relevant 8 years later. In the piece, Mr. Hoffman explains the developmental issues of children at different stages of life and provides advice on how to help kids of different ages adjust to their parents’ separation. He also includes a short list of books about divorce geared towards the young reader.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Pazaratz recently released a decision (click here) he made on a temporary motion which dealt with the issues of interim custody and access. The first sentence of his decision sets the tone for what follows: “Breaking Bad, meet Breaking Bad Parents”. The decision reads like a “What Not to Do” cautionary tale. He asks:
Will [these parents] become regulars in our family court building, recognizable by face and disposition? Or will they come to their senses; salvage their lives, dignity (and finances); and give their children the truly priceless gifts of maturity and permission to love?
Perhaps the most poignant observation by Justice Pazaratz is this: “…when you decide to see a lot less of your spouse, you’re also going to see a lot less of your children.” Mr. Hoffman’s article provides insight on how to make it easier on your children to see a lot less of you.
It is crucially important for parents to focus on their children’s best interests. This is not always easy to do, but it is one of the best ways to ensure that your children come through this journey undamaged.