How to Talk to Children About Divorce
No one looks forward to telling their children that they’re getting divorced. Unfortunately, deciding when and how to talk to children about divorce is a necessary step in moving forward when you’ve accepted that your marriage is over. Even if you suspect that they won’t be surprised, it’s always a good idea to approach the subject carefully. Striving to explain what is happening in your family in an honest, thoughtful, compassionate manner will ease some of the pain that a divorce can bring. Here are some practical tips to help the conversation go as smoothly as possible.
Choose the Appropriate Time
This will likely be a conversation your children remember for the rest of their lives. With this in mind, it’s important to choose the right time to break the news to them. This is not something they need to be aware of before a big event in their lives, such as an exam or prom. Choose a time when both you and your spouse can emotionally handle their reactions. It’s also a good idea to inform the other important people in their lives, such as coaches, teachers, and friends’ parents, so they can have an additional support system if they need it.
Present a United Front
Even if only one of you wants the divorce, you should communicate what is happening to your children together. Use the term “we” as much as possible, and always avoid placing blame on your spouse for the position your family is in. This is not the time to be right or look good; it’s about making sure that your child feels emotionally secure and knows that you and your soon-to-be ex can still work together as a team.
Your children feed off of your energy, especially in stressful circumstances. If they sense that you are anxious, they will be anxious, too. For this reason, do your best to stay strong and level-headed. It’s ok to let them know that you are sad, but it’s not ok to use that sadness as an excuse to talk poorly to or about your spouse or not fulfill your role as their parent. Your children need you now more than ever.
Keep it Age-Appropriate
Children should not be burdened with adult problems. Keep this in mind when it’s time to tell them why you and your spouse are separating. There is absolutely no reason to go into specific details about what went wrong in your marriage. Doing so will only cause them more pain or will encourage them to resent you for talking poorly about their other parent. You can be honest with them without weighing them down by keeping the explanations short and age-appropriate.
Answer Their Questions
When you talk to children about divorce, explaining what a divorce means and how it will impact you all as a family cannot be summed up in one conversation. It will take time for them to come to terms with how they feel about the divorce. You can expect to see a range of emotions from your children, regardless of their age, and that they will have questions before, during, and after the divorce. It’s best to prepare for these questions now so that you are well-equipped to provide them with adequate answers when the time comes. Always try to be emotionally available to your children when they want to discuss the divorce. Divorce can be confusing to children, especially young ones.
By taking the time to prepare what you are going to say, calmly communicating as a team, and being emotionally available for your children, you can ensure that discussing divorce with your family goes as smoothly as possible. If you are worried about not knowing how to talk to children about divorce or about your children’s well-being after your divorce, the Ellender Law Firm is here for you. Contact us today to see how we can help your family navigate through this challenging time together.
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