For parents getting divorced, the impact of the divorce on their children is generally at the very top of their minds. Parents worry about how children will respond to the news of the split and how they will cope with the impending changes to their family. Fortunately, many children with divorced parents grow up happy and healthy. However, that is not to say that the divorce will be easy for them.
As you navigate this complicated situation, consider the following tips from child experts and psychologists for discussing divorce with children.
Stick to the Facts and Avoid Oversharing
One of the most important things to remember when discussing the divorce with your children is to remain fact-based and age-appropriate. Your marriage may be ending because your spouse had an affair, gambled away the savings account, or otherwise betrayed you. Or, the divorce may be the result of a marriage that has been broken for years. Whatever the reason, it is important not to get into the details about why the marriage is ending. Instead, factually explain the logistics of the split, where the children will live, and when they will see each of the parents.
Provide Reassurance – Even for Older Children
It is not uncommon for a child to assume that their parents’ divorce is their fault. A child who has struggled with behavior problems in school, for example, may worry that his actions led to the marital breakdown. It is important to reassure your children that the divorce is not their fault. Many parents assume that older children and teenagers know that divorce is only between the adults, but it is important to provide reassurance to older children as well.
Do Not Be Afraid to Say “I Don’t Know”
Your children may ask you questions that you cannot answer yet. For example, if you and the child’s other parent have not worked out the details of your parenting plan, you may not know what the parenting time schedule will be or how holidays such as Christmas or birthdays will be handled. If your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, do not be afraid to tell them, “I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but I promise that we will still love and care about you no matter what happens.”
Allow Children to Express Their Feelings and Opinions Throughout the Split
As the divorce progresses, children may experience a range of emotions. Some days, they may act as if nothing is wrong, but on other days they may be withdrawn, irritable, or outright hateful. Give your children space to experience these emotions and try not to take any anger or hostility personally. If your child wants to talk, let them talk. If your child does not want to talk about their feelings, explain that you are there for them and will be willing to listen whenever they are ready.
Work With a Kane County Divorce Lawyer Who Understands
If you are a parent getting divorced, make sure you work with a divorce attorney who has experience in child-related divorce concerns such as child support, parental responsibilities, parenting time, and parental relocations. The skilled St. Charles attorneys at MKFM law know that divorce is especially painful when children are involved. We can provide the legal support you need. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.