Divorce is often a difficult experience for adults and can have a significant impact on children. If you're a parent considering divorce, you'll need to determine how to discuss the situation with your kids. The most important factor is to make your conversation age appropriate and to put your child's best interest at the forefront. Here are some tips every parent can use to start communicating with their children about an impending divorce.
Here are a few ways on how to successfully navigate your way through this otherwise unpredictable conversation.
Make it Age-Appropriate
The conversation you would have with young children differs from how you would choose to break the news to teenagers. Consider what is age-appropriate for your child. Children have different levels of understanding depending on their age.
For example, for children who are young, you may want to utilize a children's education book on divorce. These books typically contain vivid imagery and colorful photos to help children make sense of what is happening. These books paint a very reassuring picture that everything will be okay, even though their life will be different in certain ways, such as living in two homes.
Keep it Simple
Whether your children are six-years-old or 16, it's important to keep the information simple. Children don't yet have the cognitive skills to understand the complexities of divorce. It may help to write out the conversation you intend to have with your children. Then go through what you've written and find ways to simplify your wording.
It's a good idea to focus on common themes, such as:
- Both parents will be happier
- Both parents will still love them
- Both parents will be an important part of their life
Disguising the truth is tempting. However, in the long run, children are often much better able to adjust when they receive honest information about divorce. Parents should aim to honesty when questions are asked.
For example, if there was an extra-marital affair, there is no need to go into the specifics, but it may be appropriate to acknowledge it if your children ask about it, rather than hiding it.
Respect Fears and Worries
Once a child hears their parents are getting a divorce, they have every right to be worried and afraid. In fact, they will likely start their own custom list of worries such as:
- Whether or not they will be kept safe
- Whether or not the divorce was their fault
- Whether or not they can do something to keep the family together
- Whether or not they will have to move far away
- Whether or not they have to change schools
- Whether or not there will be enough money
A good approach is to acknowledge your child's fears and reassure them that everything will be okay.
It's important to make time for your child to ask questions and receive answers at their leisure. After talking to your children about the impending divorce, they may come to you at a later time with additional questions. Things may come up, and they may need to have additional conversations and receive additional reassurance.
Parents shouldn't assume that after talking to their children about the divorce, that they won't have to bring it up again. Therefore it's important to carve out time for additional talks. It's also a good idea to check in with your children from time-to-time after speaking with them, to find out if they have additional questions or concerns.
Discussing divorce with children is often difficult and filled with emotions. However, it's necessary for the betterment of everyone involved.
If you're considering divorce, contact our experienced attorneys at Allan Brandon Tise, PLLC.