At times, parents who are going through a divorce or separation will propose that children be separated into different houses. For instance, they may propose that one child lives with the father and the other one live with the mother. This ends up separating siblings, meaning they won’t live in one house. There are a lot of reasons that make parents believe that this proposal will work out in the long run.
Among the reasons that might compel a parent to separate siblings include ensuring that each parent has a child living with them every time. Often they assume that this gives siblings space if they don’t get along. In general, the family court always emphasizes the effects of separating siblings. These effects include:
- The quality of the sibling relationship is important and beneficial to the life of the child
- Separating siblings can result in lost relationships
- The disagreements of the parents should not extend to the children
There are a lot of cases in different parts of the world that support keeping siblings together. Petty reasons such as sibling arguments do not go well with the family court. The court assesses every case to find out if siblings must separate.
The court assesses each case individually to determine whether it’s appropriate for siblings to separate. Such matters usually fall under the children’s category in court. The court will also take into account the best interest principle before making a judgment.
When parents take children away from each other, it rarely benefits the child. While the two adults may not realize it, children are usually losing a sibling, the home they have, and a parent. Losing the above can lead to physical, emotional, and psychological damage.
Losing their home and a parent is one thing. When siblings are separated they might need to grieve. Separation is not just a grieving process for parents, but also the children. Children will always prioritize family unity. When it’s not there, it can lead to stress, loneliness, split loyalties, and even depression.
Here Are 5 Potential Dangers When Separating Siblings
During the separation period, it’s natural for siblings to turn to each other for physical and emotional help. One of the biggest concerns that children face is loneliness during and after the separation. A present sibling can help in fighting loneliness.
Research studies have shown that children have the hardest time adjusting when their parents get divorced. They tend to feel isolated and usually carry their parents’ burden all alone. The majority of them don’t share their thoughts and fears. When parents separate siblings, children become an “only child” in a single-parent home.
2. Split Loyalties
When parents separate, children usually develop split loyalties. They love both parents equally and they don’t want to hurt one parent by taking the other parent’s side. Children have to change their loyalties and feelings all the time. They tend to feel like they are keeping secrets from both parents all the time to remain loyal to both parents. This is a heavy burden for one to carry alone.
When there is a sibling around, they can easily share the burden. Most children look up to and rely on their parents when they are scared or lonely. This is only natural. However, when the separation happens, there will be numerous times when the child cannot rely on his or her parents because they can’t see or visit each other, and this is when siblings depend on each other. Research studies have shown that for children to say “hello” to one parent, they have to say “goodbye” to the other parent. Your children shouldn’t have to carry this burden alone.
During a separation, siblings can always worry together. Like most parents, you may not have the ability to see past the separation at the moment. One parent is supposed to pick up the kids at 5:00 p.m. on Friday while the other has to put more hours to get the work done.
As an adult, you probably think this is normal, but it’s not good for children. When they notice that one parent is not coming, they will start worrying. Some will start asking questions like, “Will mum or dad come to get us today?” or “What if mum had an accident?” As a parent, you might never know what your children are worried about.
Remember, one parent is not always going to be there to help them plan for Christmas or their birthday. Siblings will have to rely on each other. When you separate them, they will hardly have a good time together as siblings. When will they share their secrets? When will they giggle and tease each other? How will they create beautiful memories if they are apart all the time?
When parents separate, most of them end up re-marrying. This means that there will be stepchildren involved. Your child doesn’t have to face this alone. Siblings need each other when stepfamilies come into play.
Most adults think that childhood is a carefree time. However, a sibling separation can be overwhelming for kids. While you can’t protect your children from stress, you can always help them develop healthy ways to solve problems and cope with stress.
Children can deal with stress in a healthy and unhealthy manner. While you don’t have to be the one who’ll start the conversation, your child may want you to reach out and help them solve their problems. Here are a few simple tips that you can use to help a child with stress during separation:
- Take note and inform: You need to tell your child when you notice that something’s off. While describing the feeling that your child is experiencing, don’t make it sound like an accusation or try to put the child in the limelight. Make it a casual observation and show him or her that you understand and care.
- Listen: Ask your child questions to find out what’s bothering him or her. Listen calmly and attentively with patience, care, interest, and openness. Avoid the urge to lecture, blame, or say things that you think your child would have done. Remember, your primary aim is to listen to the concerns of your child.
- Be present: Children don’t always feel like talking about their worries and concerns. And that’s ok. Let your children know that you are there for them. Spending quality time with your child will pay off in spades in the long run. If you notice that your child is stressed and doesn’t want to talk, think of something interesting that you can do together.
Children need their parents and siblings to grow physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Separations and divorces affect millions of children around the world. If parents have to separate, they must do it gracefully and peacefully to avoid hurting their kids. After the separation, parents should spend a lot of time with their kids to help them deal with stress, worries, and anxiety.
Jessica Chapman is a writing editor at Assignment Masters from Chicago. She is into sports, politics, and traveling. www.assignmentmasters.org