What Children Say about Divorce

Sometimes the voice of children whose parents are divorcing or separating gets lost in all the other noise and discussion surrounding the process. We thought it would be useful to hear things children have said about their parents’ separation.

Most parents worry terribly about the impact of their split on their children, but plenty of research shows that children can adapt well to separation, what they cannot cope with is ongoing conflict between their parents. Have a read of some of these quotes: 

Sabrina (14)

‘I wouldn’t want Mum and Dad to get back together, it was awful when they were always arguing. The only bad thing now is when they argue, so I’d like it if they could get on a bit better.’


Sally (12)

“They separated because my dad said he’s just stopped loving my mum ‘cos they been together now much longer than he’d really wanted to. He said he stayed, just because of the children. You know, us two. He said he didn’t really want to leave when we were too young, he explained to me that he was thinking of leaving quite a long time ago.”


Ellie (10) talking about how she feels when her parents argue when they meet.

“I feel horrible actually. It’s just I can’t stop them cos one’s my Dad and one’s my Mum. It seems like it’s all my fault when they are arguing. It just makes me feel horrible. I just feel that they’re arguing cos of me, cos I was born and cos I have to be picked up at a certain time, and it’s just horrible.”


Quentin (13)

‘Sometimes you come back home and feel fed up, like annoyed that you have to do this, like have separate mums and separate dads, and you don’t want to do it anymore, but you can cope it really, you get used to it.’


Mark (15)

‘Children should get a say in things, they shouldn’t be left out. I mean, it’s their life as well, they shouldn’t be stuck with someone they didn’t want to be with.’


Jake (11)

‘I think there should be some kind of agreement between the children and the parents as to what should happen. I think the people who are involved should get to decide, not by themselves, but by helping each other to reach some kind of agreement as to what would be best.’


Susan (14)

“All I really know about Mum and Dad’s divorce is the money side. My Dad didn’t tell me about the divorces papers, ‘cos I now there was a lot of things that Mum put on there which was quite cruel and untrue. Dad just told me a couple of things that were on there, but he said it was private. And I think he was trying to protect us,  protect me in some ways.”


Sophie (15)

“I think the kids should know what is going on, because I think ti’s very unfair to keep them in the dark. Because it’s their parents. And maybe, if, when the parents are going to solicitors, maybe the solicitor of someone explaining to them (children), instead of their parents, ‘cos their parents might not understand ti. So if they (children) have somebody explain what’s going on, then they may find it better. But that was just my case. Other people might not want to know what’s going on.”


Daniel (14)

“I think it’s important to know the legal side of things. ‘Cos then you know completely what’s going on , and it helps you. You know where you are, what’s going on. And then, I don’t think you should know every bit of it, like, ‘cos some things are private to my mother. I think it should be explained to you by your parents. But I think it should only be explained to you by your parents. ‘Cos then you are comfortable with who’s speaking to you.”           


Ursula (19)

‘The children should get a say, and the parents should be able to sort things out for everyone – they should be able to act like adults about it really.’


Rachel (16)

‘When you parents don’t live together it’s a lot easier to say, “Oh God, I hate my mum of dad, I’m going to move out and live with the other parent,” and you play them off against each other, instead of working it out.’


Pele (10)

‘You get on with your life and then when something comes up, you just sort of try and cross that bridge when you come to it.’


Jamal (6)

‘I call my Mum’s boyfriend Uncle Sylvester. I know he’s not my real Uncle or anything, but we like it.’


Luke (7)

‘You have more people to talk to and be with. There are more people to care about you.’


Sioned (12)  

I’m happy that they got divorced cos if they hadn’t then they’d be arguing all my life and then I’d be all upset. And it’s more happier without shouting all the time. cos if they haven’t got divorced and I’m sure that they’d still be shouting now. My Dad’s happy and on the phone now, my Mum and Dad get on. They’re friends now. It’s more fun and everything’s happy – everywhere.” 

At progressive Mediation we are very experienced in helping parents to communicate with their children after separation or divorce. Call us if you would like to find out more about mediation with children on 0117 924 3880.

Practical Guide to Introducing new partners from the point of view of the child…

With one in ten families in the UK now being a step-family, and one in three people being involved in a step-family in one way or other, the nuclear family of biological parents living together with their children under one roof is now seen as a pretty out-of-date typecast of the British family.

New relationships are a natural and common occurrence in separating families and finding a new partner can be a happy and exciting time for people whose previous relationship has ended. However, no matter how joyful this new relationship maybe it’s important to recognise the effect that introducing a new partner can have on any child involved. So it’s vital to consider very carefully how to go about introducing a new partner to a child, to limit any unwanted detrimental effects that may be caused. That’s why Progressive Mediation have put together the following top tips on how to introduce new partners into separating families from a child-centred approach, to form a handy guide for parents….

Think before you act

Before you introduce your new partner into your child’s life it is crucial that you think realistically about the future of your new relationship. As much as you may feel love struck at the moment, think about yourself and past relationship experiences- will this be a long-term relationship? Nobody wants to have the dreaded “Where is this going conversation?” but you have a genuine excuse to bring it up when there are children involved. You don’t want to introduce every date or short-term relationship to your children, as most children will find this overwhelming and destabilising. So think first and only make introductions when enough time has elapsed and you feel sure as you can that it will be a long-term relationship.

Talk to your ex before the child

If the other biological parent of the child is still in the child’s life talk to them about the new partner before you talk to the child. It may not be an easy conversation but a very common issue that prevents successful mediations is when an ex has introduced a new partner to children without consulting the other biological parent. Despite, whatever has gone on between you in the past as a couple, you are still a parenting team, and successful teamwork relies on communication and trust, so it’s important to let you’re ex-partner know if you’re going to introduce a new adult into your child’s life.

Talk to child before introducing new partner

“Mummy who’s that man in the loo?”

“That’s you’re new daddy”

“But what about my old daddy?”

During separation children are susceptible to feeling vulnerable and ungrounded. A scene such as the one above is only going to enhance the likelihood of these feelings of vulnerability, when in fact, such negative effects towards children from introduction of a new partner can be completely avoided. Be careful how you bring up the new partner, and do not suggest that they are in any way a replacement for the other biological parent, depending on the child’s age you may refer to them as a ‘special friend’ or if they are older don’t shy away from terms like ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ as older children will know and will not like being lied to. You can explain how you feel, that you like this person and that you’re spending time together and that they are helping support you. Children want their parents to be happy, and if they see the positive effect the new partner has on you, this may make them feel better too.

Fun first meeting

 Take the children out somewhere neutral, and do something fun- going to the cinema or bowling are good suggestions. Anything that distracts away from the introduction to make it a less tense time for all involved, don’t forget that the new partner may be feeling nervous too, and the children will be more wary of them if they are acting in an unnatural way.

Take it slow

 After the first meeting, however brilliantly it went, don’t immediately bring the new partner round for dinner, take things slowly. When families separate children can feel insecure due to all the changes going on in their lives and they need time to adjust to these changes so they feel secure with them. Perhaps if you went to the cinema on your first meeting, on the second you could go to a park, where there is a little possibility to make conversation but it is still not the centre of focus. Then, only once the children know this person and feel comfortable around them, invite them to your home, or else it will feel like an invasion of their safe territory. Only invite your new partner to stay over when your children are home, when plenty of time has passed and they are fully comfortable with them, and warn the children before, you can refer to this as a ´sleepover´.

Avoid kisses and cuddles with new partner in front of child

 Try to avoid kissing or cuddling your new partner in front of your child. They may find this unsettling and it may make them feel jealous which could lead to feelings of resentment towards the new partner or insecurity and upset.

Quality time with you

 One of the most important things to avoid upset when introducing a new partner to your child is to ensure you still spend quality time alone with them, whether its talking to them about their day, their feelings, or helping them with reading, it´s even more important at this time to ensure you spend lots of time with them and show them they are loved. This will leave them feeling loved, secure and able to face any changes or challenges the transition into a step-family may bring.


Finally, and most importantly COMMUNICATE. With your child, with your ex-partner, with your new partner.  Make sure your children are aware that you´re happy and willing to talk with them whenever they need you.

Parenting after Separation – How to Communicate

Research shows that while children can adapt well to their parents’ separation, what they cannot cope with is prolonged exposure to conflict between their parents. Conflict between separated parents is shown to impact negatively on children’s long-term outcomes in relationships, career progression and emotional well-being.

Continue reading Parenting after Separation – How to Communicate