While spouses have a choice to divorce, their children don’t. There is no doubt that a divorce is challenging for the spouses, but it is even tougher for the children. Even though a spouse could eventually start to dislike the other spouse and don’t want to have any relationship with them, their bond with their child will continue to exist even after the divorce. Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about divorce.
Plan What You Want to Say
Talking about divorce to your children is not a casual conversation. You need to decide when, where, and how you want to talk to them about this extremely important event that is going to happen. Choosing the right time is very important. For example, you don’t want to talk to the child about the divorce before they have an exam or on the eve of Thanksgiving. It might help to write down what you are planning on saying so you can organize your thoughts.
Avoid the Blame Game
You need to take a unified approach to talking about divorce with the children. Regardless of who is at fault, you should avoid the blame game. Even though you may feel that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce, and this might make you despise your spouse, the children may not share the same feelings. Learning that one of their parents was the culprit could foster feelings of hatred and resentment.
While it is important to be honest and truthful to your children about the divorce, it is more important to convey a feeling of security and safety to them. Of course, there are some exceptions to this. If the other spouse is a serious threat to the child, you may want to let the child know of the danger. However, you will have to carefully manage this conversation with sensitivity.
Let the Children Know It’s Not Their Fault
A divorce is an emotionally charged event, and you don’t want your children to get the wrong ideas about what is causing them to suffer this event. Therefore, it is extremely important to reiterate to the children that the divorce is not their fault. The last thing you want is for the children to internalize the dispute as their fault. The misplaced feelings can lead to life-long feelings of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, or anger.
Ideally, when you are discussing such a sensitive matter, you want both parents to be present so that the children can hear from both parents. This will provide them with a sense of assurance that even though their parents are no longer going to be married, they will always be their parents.
Give Time For Children to Process the Information
According to an Overland Park divorce lawyer, when you break the news of the divorce to the children, expect them to take some time to process this information. After all, learning that your parents are getting divorced can be devastating for the children. Their initial reaction could be shock, and they might require some time to process this information.
They might come back to you with questions a few days after this talk, so be patient with them. Listen to their concerns. If you feel the news of the divorce has made them depressed or anxious and these conditions are not getting better, you can always seek professional assistance from a psychologist.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
The age of the children is a major factor in determining how you talk to them about divorce. Don’t assume that if the children are young that you don’t need to talk to them. Even very young children can develop a bond with their parents, and they might get upset if they don’t get to see one of the parents as much as they used before the divorce.
With young children, the talk of divorce should focus on basic information like where the child will sleep and when they will see the other parent. Consistency in communication is important, so whatever you choose to tell your child about the divorce, stick to it.
For older children, you can go into more detail about the divorce, and you can expect them to have more questions. For example, they might want to know if they will continue going to the same school.
Talking about divorce to teenage children can be particularly tough as they tend to ask more probing questions. They might also be quick to judge you or blame you for the divorce. While you want to give them some room to express themselves, you should remind them that there are boundaries in terms of what language they can use toward you.
A common concern amongst children is about their future. While you can’t be certain about what will happen in the future, you can give them some idea of a short-term arrangement as to which parent will have their legal and physical custody. For older children, they might be concerned about relocating, so if that is on the cards, you need to discuss that with the children.
Encourage the Children to Share Their Feelings
Bottling up the feelings will only make it tougher for the children. You must encourage them to share their feelings. This is especially true for children that are naturally quiet, reserved, or shy.
Going through a divorce is tough, and it requires considerable effort and time from parents to help their children through this difficult phase. Seek the help of a professional attorney so they can manage the legal processes so that you can focus on the well-being of your children and yourself. An experienced family law attorney can also share some tips on how to talk about divorce with your kids.
The attorney can also guide you on the best legal options to minimize the impact of the divorce on the children. For example, the attorney might recommend you seek an uncontested divorce where you and your divorcing spouse mutually agree upon the terms of the divorce.