Dealing with separation and divorce is tough, even for the most secure and well-adjusted child. But there are things that can help a child through the separation process and provide support as they adjust to their changing family situation. Raising happy, healthy children regardless of changes to their family unit is more than just a rewarding experience for parents. It also improves the chances that those children will have a strong foundation to do the same when they become parents themselves. Parents, family members, teachers and individuals in the community can all make a difference.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Divorce Act, The Children’s Law Act and The Child and Family Maintenance Act all express ideas recognizing the rights of children. When parents separate or divorce and start dealing with the changes that come with raising a child while living apart, a phrase that will come up again and again is the best interests of the child. Focusing on the best interests of the child can help ensure that these rights are respected.
Now of course every parent may have their own idea about what is best for their own child. If parents disagree on what is best for their child they may be able to reach an agreement with help from someone else. When two parents are unable to reach an agreement, a court may be asked to decide the issue. It is important to note that the law recognizes that every family situation is unique and what is best for one child may not be what is best for another child.
To decide the best interests of the child, courts will want some information about the type of relationship each parent has with the child, as well as information about other close relationships the child may have. They will want information about which parent the child is now living with, details about their relationship with that parent and the home environment. The court will also want information about the other parent’s relationship with the child and details about how they spend their time together. The court will want information about each parent’s ability to be a good parent to their child.
The court will generally find that it is desirable for both parents to be involved in their child’s life and that both have a role to play in issues such as discipline, schooling, cultural, religious or spiritual guidance, health matters and activities. They will want information about each parent’s ability to allow, encourage and facilitate contact with the other parent, unless it would be harmful.
As kids colour the pages, read over the ideas expressed throughout this book and discuss them together. Putting the concepts into different words may help younger children to better understand them. Together, try to think of examples that emphasize commitment to these principles and how they apply to different families. This time can also provide an excellent opportunity to hear a child’s point of view and thoughts they have about how the ideas expressed relate to their own family units. Use these ideas to assure children that, no matter what, committed parents will always be there to nurture, protect and provide for them.
Something to Talk About...
As one of the goals of this colouring book is to encourage kids to discuss their feelings about changing family situations, you may wish to have kids construct and fill out speech balloons, perhaps made from sticky notes, to place in the pages of this colouring book. This may help open communication regarding parenting, separation and divorce, and help children to find their voice.
The full resource in pdf.
The colouring book in pdf.