For many parents, having to talk to kids about divorce is one of the most difficult conversations they will ever have. This is understandable; divorce is an intense and often upsetting experience for the entire family. Luckily, there are several tips to keep in mind that will make that conversation easier and more productive for everyone involved.
WHEN TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT DIVORCE…
First and foremost, remember that kids are surprisingly receptive, and depending on their age yours have probably picked up on the tension between you and your spouse despite your best efforts. Still, your children should never be unnecessarily exposed to any conflict between you two. If you are divorcing, there is a high likelihood that you already disagree on some pretty fundamental issues. But now is the time for you to set those disagreements aside for the good of your kids. As you talk to them, avoid blaming each other or getting deep into the details of why you’re splitting up. This conversation is about meeting the needs of your children, not airing your grievances.
On the other hand, you should be prepared to answer their questions. You will want to let them know as much as you are able what this will mean for their lives. Will they continue to attend the same school? When will mom or dad move out, where will they go to live and how often will they visit? Can they call or see the other parent if they miss them?
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
Here are some other useful things to tell your kids as you talk to them about your divorce:
- “This is not your fault. This was our choice, not yours.” Some kids internalize and blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. It’s important to reinforce to them that none of their actions had any bearing on your decision.
- “You don’t have to choose a side.” Kids don’t always realize that no one could reasonably expect them to “pick” a parent (in fact, parents themselves don’t always realize that). It’s a lot of pressure at an already stressful time. Don’t let them think they have to let one of their parents go. With some exceptions, they need you both.
- “We will still be a family; it’ll just look a little different.” It might help to compare your situation to friends of theirs whose parents are divorced, so they can see that divorce isn’t that unusual and life goes on.
- “It’s going to be okay.” Because at the end of the day, it will be.
Do not assume that you know how your kids will react when talking to them about divorce. Some will have a ton of questions right away, and others won’t have any until much later. Some may be fine, and even relieved that they won’t have to live with that household tension any longer. Alternatively, they may be devastated at what they perceive as the loss of a parent. Your job as parents is to approach the conversation with open minds and loving hearts.
When you’re ready to have these tough conversations and move your divorce forward, give Held Law Firm a call at (865) 685-4780. We’re here to help.
The information in this blog was compiled and written by Faith Held.