Divorce is never an easy time for family members, especially children. Though kids will respond differently to the news, depending on the age, maturity level and relationship they had with you and your spouse, your children will likely feel some degree of sadness, anger and anxiety when they learn that their parents are splitting up. As their mother or father, you want to break the news as gently as possible and discuss the situation in the most least upsetting way as possible. Here are a few tips for talking to your children about divorce.
Break The News At The Same Time
In households with more than one child, there seems to be a propensity for parents to tell the oldest child(ren) about the divorce first and wait to inform younger children. This is not a good idea for two (2) reasons. First, you are asking the older child to bear the burden of keeping a secret – not just from the younger child, but from anyone who might tell the younger child. Second, you are sending the message that your younger child is incapable of dealing with issues or is somehow unfit or untrustworthy to handle the information. These messages foster feelings of anger and resentment, which will only serve to break-up the family even further. Consider having a sit-down with the entire family and telling everyone about the divorce at the same time.
Answer Questions And Don’t Ignore The Elephant In The Room
Going through a divorce and dealing with the uncertainties that come along with it can be entirely stressful and emotionally draining for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For this reason, you may feel like avoiding the issue(s) or refrain from talking about the divorce outside of your attorney’s office – particularly at home with the kids. Or maybe you skirt the issue at home by telling your children that “everything will be okay.” But odds are good this will do little, if anything, to alleviate your children’s negative feelings and anxiety. You should address all of your kids’ questions and concerns openly, honestly and calmly. Studies have shown that parents can greatly reduce the pain and confusion their children feel during divorce by being truthful and receptive to their children’s questions and emotions.
Avoid The Blame Game
Obviously, you would never tell any of your children that they are responsible for your divorce, nor would you make them think so for a second. However, you should avoid outright blaming your spouse as well (even if you think it’s true). Do not taint your children’s minds with negative stories and cruel remarks about your spouse or put your children in a position to feel animosity towards him or her. Avoid making comments in front of the kids that blame your spouse for the divorce, or otherwise insinuate that he or she is at fault – even if your spouse does so. These types of comments will not only confuse and/or anger and sadden your children, they can be used against you when it comes time to decide matters of custody and visitation with your kids. Moreover, as your children grow older, they will respect the maturity and composure you maintained when dealing with this difficult time.
Going through a divorce is never easy, for you or your kids, and there is no great way to tell the children that your marriage is irretrievably broken. But by addressing the situation openly and honestly while avoiding any sort of blame game, you can minimize the shock and anxiety your children will feel during this difficult time and help the family transition smoothly.
If you are considering a separation or divorce, you should hire a knowledgeable family law or divorce lawyer who knows the law and will fight for your rights. The qualified family law and divorce attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have years of experience providing clients competent and compassionate legal services in all sorts of family law matters. Call us today for a consultation at (888) 530-4374 orcontact us online.