Divorce will almost assuredly have an adverse impact on your children, at least in the short term, but you can mitigate much of this by communicating openly and honestly—and keeping hostility with your ex to a minimum. Keep the following in mind as you determine what to share with your children, and what to keep quiet:
Agree On a Game Plan
You and your spouse may agree about practically nothing when it comes to your relationship and divorce proceedings, but try your best to keep your story straight when you explain the circumstances to your kids. If this means sharing fewer details, so be it. Discuss ahead of time how you’ll present the information, and how you’ll answer any questions your children ask. Debrief afterwards to assess the conversation and to determine whether any changes need to occur before you resume talking with your kids about divorce.
General Answers For Young Children
Typically, according to behavioral psychologists, you want to avoid discussing sensitive details with children under the age of 10. Don’t make up stories that seem easier to grasp; it’s possible to be honest without going into detail. For example, you can simply state that you and your partner did not get along and fell out of love. Regularly remind children of all ages that they are not to blame for the divorce.
Older Children And Teenagers Deserve More Details
Your teenagers probably know more about the circumstances driving your divorce than you think. They might feel insulted if you offer up simplified information better suited to young children. You need not always go into extreme details about sensitive information such as infidelity, but don’t be surprised if your teen already knows uncomfortable truths about your relationship and ensuing divorce.
If you’ve suffered domestic abuse, your child deserves to know, particularly if opting to live with the abusive spouse could put him or her at risk.
Don’t Vent to Children About Difficult Divorce Proceedings
Amid the stress of divorce, you need a source of emotional release. Stick with a therapist or a close friend—not your children. The last thing they need during the turmoil of divorce is to feel even more trapped between two warring factions.