Children and young people experience a wide range of reactions to parental separation. Many get through the whole process relatively easily, whereas others find it very difficult.
Some children and young people will react more during the initial phase of the separation, and be back to their usual self soon afterwards. However, others continue to behave as normal while the separation is happening, and their reactions only become apparent over time.
Reactions will vary depending on the child or young person’s age and stage of development. Because each separation is unique, and so are the children and young people, their behavioural and emotional changes are also very varied. Some might show anger and frustration, while others may become withdrawn and tearful.
Parental separation is a difficult thing for children and young people to process and understand, and can result in emotions such as grief, confusion, guilt, anger and relief. These feelings might be contradictory, for example, they might feel relieved that the fighting between their parents will end, but also guilty about their parents separating.
Your views about parental separation may affect how you respond to the child or young person. Your experience of this situation, or how others have coped with similar situations, may also impact your response. To best support the child or young person, it is important to respond to them and their unique circumstances. If you are also affected by the situation, make sure you talk to someone if you need support.
Remember that with the right support from the people around them, most children and young people will be able to cope with parental separation. However you might also want to consider extra help or support:
Divorce and separation leaflet from Understanding Childhood:
Family break-ups booklet for children, from NHS Health Scotland:
Fife Gingerbread, support to lone parents in Fife:
One Parent Families Scotland:
Please contact your health visitor, school, GP or other professional involved with your family.
Please consult with other professionals involved or the named person, and to help identify the most appropriate support, go to: www.nhsfife.org/choosingtherightsupport