Divorce is a decision that no one comes to easily, especially parents with children. For parents, choosing to get divorced can be particularly excruciating, and telling the kids about the divorce can be heartbreaking. While divorce can take an emotional toll on children, having the right conversations with children at the right time can help children to accept the reality of the divorce. Here are some tips for telling your kids about an approaching divorce—
Present a United Front
First, it’s important that you and your spouse present a united front when talking about divorce, even if doing so is very challenging for you both. Do not just tell the kids randomly, and do not have one parent present the news solo. Instead, you and your spouse should sit down with your children together to share the news, and you should be in agreement about what you’ll say, what you won’t, and what the answers to likely questions will be. Presenting the information together can comfort a child who is worried that a divorce will mean that the family is breaking up; families can still be close and parents can still provide collaborative support to children, even when the parents are not married.
Make a Plan
Part of presenting a united front is to make a plan of what you will do each day. In addition to planning your words carefully, you should also plan when you’ll have the conversation, how you’ll bring it up to your child, and where you’ll discuss it. Keep in mind that you want to give your kids plenty of time to process that the divorce is happening, but you don’t want to tell them too far in advance, either. Striking this balance can be difficult for parents, and it may be worth discussing the timing with an expert.
Reinforce Certain Points
Throughout the conversation—and after it, as the divorce unfolds—it will be important that you and your spouse are clear about certain points. Not only should you avoid blaming one another, but you should also remind your child that:
- The divorce is not their fault—children often feel shame, guilt, or a sense of blame around a divorce. It’s important that you and your spouse reiterate that the divorce is not their fault, and that it’s about you guys.
- The decision isn’t changing—sometimes, children think that divorce is temporary, or that the decision to get a divorce is impulsive. It’s important that parents reiterate that this decision is something that was well thought out, and that it’s the result of being unable to make the marriage work after a lot of effort.
- Family is family—learning of a divorce can feel like the end of the world to a child, who is now worried that they will have no sense of family. Remind your child that there is still a lot of love in your family, that no one is leaving, and that no matter what, you both will continue loving them and being their parent.
Get Help with Your Divorce
If you are getting a divorce and have questions about the process, how long it will take, what the law says about child custody, or other matters, call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward today at (617) 903-8955 or send us a message online at your convenience. Attorney Heather M. Ward will provide you with the legal support you need during this challenging time.