No parent ever wants to have to break the news of a divorce to their child. Unfortunately, with 40-50% of all marriages ending in divorce today, this is a common occurrence. Although it is natural to want to shield your child from all pain, some degree of agony is inevitable. The key to easing the burden of divorce is effective communication. Gently speaking to your children about your divorce is vital, but how do you do it? Here are a few tips for how to tell your children about your divorce.
Timing is crucial.
If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, keep it to yourselves until you have made a concrete decision. Children do not do well in uncertain circumstances. They flourish much better when they know exactly what their future holds. So, while you may be tempted to discuss things with your child prematurely, it is best to avoid doing that.
Tell your children together.
When you’re ready to talk to your children, do it together. It is important to present a united front, even though you may be divided on many issues. Presenting the news as a mutual decision prevents the child from hearing different stories from each parent. Work as a team and use the word “we” as much as possible.
Plan what you’ll say beforehand.
This kind of conversation is not one you should improvise. Couples should come up with key messages that they feel their children need to hear. For example, you may want to reiterate that this is your decision and that it has nothing to do with the kids. If your children are in school or daycare, it may be a good idea to tell their teachers beforehand or shortly after you talk to your children. This will make them aware of the circumstance and be able to sympathize with any behavior issues or upset emotions.
No matter how angry you might be, avoid blaming your spouse for the divorce or arguing in front of your children. Your spouse is someone your children love and admire, so talking negatively of your spouse may feel like a betrayal to them. This conversation is about your kids and their well-being instead of your own grievances.
Expect a variety of reactions.
Brace yourself for lots of tears and questions as you talk to your child about your divorce. Kids are innately egocentric, so they will be primarily concerned with how this will affect their own life. Address their questions and concerns gently, and be understanding of whatever emotions they convey. You know your child best. It is up to you to decide what your child needs in order to process this difficult news.
Most people fear what will happen to their children upon hearing the news of a divorce. It is natural to want to shield your child from pain. However, suffering happens in life and you can use this as an opportunity to teach your children how to positively handle hardships. Children will gradually begin to understand that some things in their life will change, but others will stay the same. Practice patience and understanding as you give them the time and space necessary for healing.
If you are currently going through a divorce it’s important to have the representation you deserve. Contact us at The Ault Firm today to get personalized representation.