How To Talk With Your Children About Your Impending Divorce
Are you getting divorced? Make sure you communicate with your kids about divorce. Here’s how.
Whether your divorce was unexpected or it’s been coming for a long time, your family life is going to change. Each member of your family will be impacted by the divorce, including your children. While facing your divorce can be emotionally challenging and may even seem impossible, make sure you take the time to consider how it is going to impact the lives of each of your children. You might be surprised that divorce can alter your children’s lives quite dramatically. It’s very important that you take the time to communicate with your kids either separately or together with your former partner. Here’s what you need to know.
Talking to Small Children
Small kids will not fully understand the reasons or impact of divorce until they are older; however, they’ll know that their life is changing and they’ll understand that the way you and your partner interact with one another is different. It’s important to talk with small children about the changes that will affect them. For example, they might start sleeping in a new home. Maybe they’ll attend a new daycare center. They might go to a new elementary school. Maybe they will play at a new park. Talk with your children casually about the changes they’re going to experience. Bring these up in daily conversation so they know it’s something they don’t have to be scared or worried about.
Talking to Pre-Teens and Teens
For pre-teens and teenagers, dealing with divorce can be quite stressful and frustrating. Your pre-teens and teenagers will probably be the most impacted socially by the divorce. They may have questions about what led to the divorce and they might wonder if you’re still going to love them or spend time with them. Try to talk with them about the divorce early on so they aren’t blindsided. You can even spend some time together talking about the divorce. Consider reading books together or even watching movies featuring divorced families. Then you can discuss what divorce might look like for your own family.
Talking to Adult Children
Even adult children may be impacted by your decision to separate from your spouse. If you were married for many years, your kids may feel anxious or betrayed. They may feel frustrated, scared, or upset. Consider meeting with them for dinner to talk about what’s going to happen. Remind them that you and your partner still love them and that you’ll both still be involved in their lives as much as possible. They may have questions about the divorce, so be prepared to answer those. If you have grandchildren, as well, they may also have questions or concerns about the separation. Remember that it’s possibly to discuss the divorce calmly and openly without placing blame or pointing fingers, so don’t make the mistake of using that time to accuse your partner. Instead, try to focus on how you’ll move forward as a family regardless of your marital status.
Talking to your children regardless of their age
Make sure you tell your children that your divorce has nothing to do with them or anything they may have done or not done or said or not said. Reassure them that you love them no matter what is happening to the two of you and that the other parent also loves them. Make sure they understand that the decision to end the marriage has been made by you and your spouse and that since it is not their fault; there is nothing they can do to change things between you and your spouse. Encourage them to continue to do their best at whatever they are doing at this time in their lives and to let you know if things because too hard to handle you can help them find professional help to support them during the transitions in your family.
When it’s time to end your marriage, make sure you schedule an appointment with your family attorney who can help you with the important decisions you need to make during this time.