Fault-y Reasoning? One critical concept for telling the kids about your separation
Recently I was working with a couple who is separating. We talked about how they were going to talk to their children about why the separation is happening, and why their marriage is changing.
We talked about how important it was that neither of them indicated to their children that either one of them was at fault for this. This is not the business of the children. As far as the kids are concerned, they ought to know their parents still love them, that they will be trying to keep their lives as normal as possible, and that this is nothing to do with them as children.
It is only about what’s happening between the parents. It’s a parents’ issue.
The phrase I use to describe this is causation neutrality. As they’re speaking to the kids about what’s happening, or answering their questions about why this happened, the parents should use neutral language, neutral phrases, and overall give the message that this was something between mom and dad, who together are deciding what to do next and how to move forward.
Causation neutrality is critical as parents convey the meaning of the separation to the children, because if one parent gives a sense that it’s the other one’s fault, the children have very difficult feelings about that. It can make it more complicated for them and make their process much more difficult. So in putting the best interests of the children first, causation neutrality is the way to approach discussing why the parents are getting separated or divorced.
Please see this post for thoughts in a similar vein. With more references to 70s and 80s music 😉
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