Tell Kids about Divorce
The most important aspect of a divorce, when children are involved, is caring for their well-being. Each child will experience different thoughts and emotions when their parents divorce. Every child, no matter what age they are, will experience something different when their parents split up. Unfortunately, it is common for divorcing couples to be so caught up in their own problems, they fail to realize that their children quite possibly could be more affected by the divorce than themselves.
By educating yourself and maintaining a dedication to your children's well being during your divorce, you can help ensure your child's future mental and emotional health. Although it may seem like a huge weight to hold on your shoulders, keep in mind that the steps to helping your child through a divorce are actually quite simple with the right amounts of patience, dedication and love.
Communication between Parents
It may be hard to think about anything but the stresses of your divorce negotiations. If you have a complex divorce in process, you probably feel overwhelmed by having to deal with that, working, taking care of a family, paying bills, etc. On top of this, you and your spouse may be having horrible communication problems that leave your relationship paralyzed. At this point, it is necessary to think about the big picture, your children, and their future.
If you and your spouse do not communicate WITH EACH OTHER about how to approach the children in regards to the divorce, you will run into problems. For example, you may disagree about where the children will be living once you are living in different households. If you have not discussed this issue before you tell your children about the divorce, there is a strong chance you could end up arguing about it in front of them. If you are having trouble coming together and communicating at all, try using a mediator to help get through a discussion about how to approach your children.
You and your spouse should spend time creating a plan in order to approach your children with the idea of divorce in a calm, clear, and honest manner. Depending on their age and personality, your approach will vary. Also, the major terms of the divorce should be decided before you tell your children so that you can explain to them, in as much detail as possible, how their lives will be changing.
Offer a General Reason for the Divorce
The full, unfortunate details of the divorce and why it is happening are not things your children need to know at first. In time, they will probably become curious on their own. At this point, it's only necessary to give them a general reason for the divorce, being sure to reiterate that it is not their fault, in any way. Explain that it would have happened either way, no matter what your children did. Provide logical explanations for your separation so they will not be confused, and be sure to decide on your basic explanation before you have the conversation with your children.
Explain Basic Changes
It is essential to let your children know how their lives will be changing and what they can expect to stay the same. The overwhelming idea of a parents' divorce can be confusing for children. They probably do not fully understand the changes a divorce can entail for a family. This is why it helps to have your main negotiations settled at this point. Let your kids know who they will be living with for how long and when, explain who will be picking them up and dropping them off at school, and when you will all spend time together as a family. Giving them a concrete, realistic idea of how their lives will be once the divorce occurs is a great way to start them on the right path, mentally and emotionally.
This is also the perfect time to explain which of the parents will be moving from the home and which one will be staying. Here, its imperative to express to your children that, even though they will not be living with both parents all of the time, they will still maintain a strong relationship with both of the parents. Explain the ways in which you and your spouse will make an effort to ease the change for the children and how you will manage to equally negotiate how time is divided.
Tell Them Calmly and Together
Maintaining a family environment is important in this tough time. By approaching your children as a team of cooperating parents, you and your spouse will be enforcing that feeling of family and togetherness, even when giving such bad news. If only one parent is present when the children find out, it could automatically give them a fear of being abandoned by the parent who is missing. It also shows the children that, even though their parents have had problems, they still care for each other and are willing to work together for their own well being. This evidence of support and love can go a long way for their success in dealing with the divorce.
Don't Blame Anyone
A sense of unity among the family is also very important when you are going through a divorce. By assigning blame to any member of the family, even if one parent is blaming the other, you are only affecting your children negatively. Again, it's important to reassure your kids that the divorce is in no way their fault. Even if you and your spouse feel the other is to blame for one thing or another, keep those comments to yourselves until you can discuss them in private.
Accept their Questions and Reactions
Throughout the conversation, make sure you stay aware of the way you are acting and the emotions you are portraying. It is important to be fully accepting and open to any reactions your children might have to the news of your divorce. Whether they react with anger and vocal frustration or seem completely indifferent, attempt to work calmly with their reaction. Explore their feelings, thoughts, and opinions on the matter. It will be difficult, but allowing for them to guide the conversation and ask questions of you is a necessary step in the divorce process. Never tell them you think their reactions are incorrect, but simply ask them about where those reactions came from. Don't forget to let them know that they can come to you any time if they have questions, thoughts, or just need someone to talk to in regards to the divorce.
Plan More Meetings
Let your children know when the next family meeting will be. If they cannot find the time to talk much during the week or wish to discuss an issue with the entire family, let them know that family meetings exist for just that reason. By creating a consistent habit of having family meetings, you will be going a long way to maintain the loving, comfortable family environment divorces can often disrupt. Weekly or monthly family meetings will also push family members to discuss issues they might have never brought up otherwise. It will even help you to monitor our children's progress through the divorce process and find out if they are dealing with problems you were unaware of before.
Tell Kids about Divorce