How To Talk To Your Kids About Divorce: 5 Tips
Divorce can be a traumatic event for every member of the family.
When a marriage ends, it can affect everyone differently, but it may have an especially significant impact on your kids. Some experts believe that divorce can have a lifelong impact on children, and others believe support and understanding is the key to helping them through the crisis.
If you and your spouse are preparing to divorce, there are a few different strategies you can use to talk to your kids in a way that may help them understand.
1. Do Not Wait
If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the only option, then it is a good idea to discuss it with your children as soon as possible. Putting it off only delays the inevitable, and the sooner they are aware of the situation, the more time they have to ask questions. If possible, schedule a time where you and your spouse can speak to them together, so they understand both their parents are there for them.
2. Be Concise
Cutting back on details about your divorce can be especially helpful when you are dealing with younger kids between the ages of five to eight. Explain briefly what divorce means and how it will change your family. If the child questions why you are splitting, you can simply explain that you and your spouse are no longer happy and that it affects the happiness of the entire family.
It is important to consider the different ages of your kids when discussing divorce. Preteens and teenagers may experience a variety of emotions, from self-blame to anger at you and your spouse. Do all you can to reassure them the divorce is about your relationship with your partner, not them or their siblings, and that your love for them has not changed.
3. Do Not Project Your Feelings
While it is normal for you and your children to be upset when discussing a divorce, remember that this is not the time to vent your feelings of anger, disappointment, and fear or to project them onto your kids. They will no doubt be dealing with some very powerful emotions themselves, so while it may be difficult, try to put aside what you feel, avoid belittling or verbally bashing your spouse, and try to give your children the support they are going to need.
4. Seek Legal Advice Beforehand
Consulting a legal firm that has experience with family law, such as Cordell & Cordell, can provide you with the information you need before you talk to your kids. For example, a knowledgeable lawyer will likely be able to help you work out custody details and offer wise advice so you can answer your kids’ questions with more confidence. This may also help your children feel a bit more at ease.
5. Do Not Make Kids Choose
Putting older kids in the middle of your divorce can make them feel anxious, tense, and angry. If there is a question of custody, it is important that you work it out with your spouse instead of making the children choose who they would rather live with. This can cause them to feel pressured and as if the other parent might not love them anymore because of their choice.
Forcing your kids to make choices about your divorce can cause them great mental stress. Instead, make an effort to consult a local family firm like Cordell & Cordell, which has offices in many states and can help you make the best choices about custody so your kids do not have to.