When parents decide to seek a divorce, one of their biggest concerns is often how their children will cope with the news. Children may react to a divorce differently depending on their personalities and the circumstances that led to the divorce. Each family operates differently, and there is certainly no singular way that each family should discuss their divorce. However, there are a few things you can do, as a parent, to make sure that initial discussion goes as smoothly as possible.
As you contemplate talking to your kids about your divorce, consider these key tips:
Speak to Your Children Together
While you and your spouse might be feeling anything but united at the moment, choosing to speak to your children together can make a huge difference in how they receive the news. Presenting a united front shows your kids something familiar and tells them that both of their parents are here for them. Also, being able to be there together will allow both of you to see your kids’ reactions, answer any immediate questions, and to remind your kids that you both love them.
Discuss it As a Family
If you have more than one child, you might consider telling your children separately. When kids have large age gaps, your older children might understand divorce differently than the younger ones de. While this is ultimately your decision, telling one child before the others can put additional pressure on them as the secret keeper. They might find comfort in discussing it with their siblings, even if they are younger, or might just feel more comfortable knowing their siblings know what they’re going through. If you are worried about a younger or older child accepting the news differently, consider telling everyone together, but having a separate discussion with each child a few days later.
Keep the Discussion Focused
Talk to your spouse ahead of time about what you will say, and how you will say it. Go over the most important points. It is crucial that you tell your children that your family is not ending, but changing. Remind your kids that you and your spouse love them and will both continue to be there for them whenever they need them, even as things begin to change. Also, make sure your children understand that nothing they can do will change this decision. It was an adult decision and is in no way your children’s fault. Reassure them that any feelings of sadness, confusion, worry, or anger are completely normal and that they are allowed to feel what they need to. But, remind them that they should talk to you about those feelings and come to you with any worries they have.
Give Them Time To Cope
If possible, discuss the divorce with your kids when they have time to let it sink in. Ideally, you can do it on the weekend, when they will be able to spend time alone or with you and their other parent, and siblings. Let your kids have the space they need, but remind them that both of you are there to talk whenever your child has any questions or concerns. Some kids ask dozens of questions about the future, about how things will change, about why the divorce is happening, while others ask nothing at all. Answer your inquisitive children with as much honesty as you can, reminding them of your love for them, and encourage your quiet children to express themselves. This might mean writing you a letter, keeping a diary about their feelings, drawing pictures about their feelings, reading a children’s book about divorce, to discussing it with you, their other parent, a friend, family member, a teacher, or a therapist.
Preparing for a divorce can be difficult, and talking to your kids is only one of the first steps. Contact Family First Legal Group today to discuss your divorce case.