Divorce can be painful for the whole family, but children often have the most difficulty making the transition. However, how you and your spouse approach the divorce can have a profound impact on how your child deals with their new family life. How you talk to your kids about this new change will depend on how old they are and their individual maturity and understanding clevels.
Below are a few tips that you can use to talk to your children about your divorce in the most efficient way possible.
- Think about the setting and circumstances beforehand.
Some parents will, unfortunately, blurt out the news in an emotional moment with very little planning. Avoid doing this if at all possible. Children who are old enough to remember the conversation often have it stuck in their mind for years to come. Studies indicate that the memory will also bring back pain when it is recalled. Take some time to think about where and when you will tell your child to make the memory easier in the long run.
- Do not assume you know how your child will react.
In most circumstances, no one knows your child better than you. However, that does not mean that you should assume you know what your child is feeling or how he or she will react. Some children will be happy about the divorce if it ends hostility and confrontation in the household. Others will be sad or upset. Some kids may surprise you and be understanding and sympathetic, particularly if they are older. Allow your child to react however he or she thinks is appropriate and try not to dictate to them how you think they should feel.
- Try to field difficult questions honestly.
Your children will have questions throughout the divorce process. It will help their understanding and comfort level if you thoroughly explain what is happening and why it is happening. It is a natural reaction to attempt to calm a child if we see that he or she is in pain. However, information can soothe children more than superficial comforting in most divorces.
- Let children know 2 to 3 weeks before the actual separation.
Kids will need time to process this life-changing event. It is a good idea to allow them a couple of weeks to fully understand what is happening and ask both parents questions about the process. Telling your child too soon can prolong a painful process that your child really just wants to get through. However, not giving them enough time can be an overwhelming shock. Just like the divorce process is difficult on you, it is also extremely hard for your child because he or she does not fully understand what is happening and has no control over the outcome.
- Talk to your children as a team and do not blame one another.
It is important that your kids see you and your spouse is a unified front. Approach your children together, if possible. Allowing your children to see that you are both civilized adults through this process sets an outstanding example. Avoid blaming the other spouse for anything, as this can lead to resentment in the future.
For more tips and information about the divorce process, contact our office by calling 813-280-5301.