When and How to Talk to Your Kids about Divorce
June 12, 2013
Divorce is difficult for everyone but one particular group that has little say in the decision is likely to take the brunt of the impact. If you are considering a divorce, your kids are perhaps the one thing that you and your spouse agree upon. They are, in essence, the glue that is holding you together. Most parents facing divorce are heartbroken when they see the effect that their decision has on their children. While there is no easy way to break the news, there are certain factors to consider that may help your children process the eminent change better.
Beginning with the family meeting, it is important that your children understand that the divorce will not mean them losing one parent. If possible, it would be helpful to your children if you and your spouse were able to have the discussion with them together. While this is not possible for every situation, it is at least important to agree upon what you and your spouse will say to the children, even if it is in separate discussions. If your spouse is uncooperative, perhaps emphasizing that this would be for the children's sake would be an incentive for them to work with you. Another thing for you and your spouse to do is to think about how the discussion will go and how you plan to tell your kids. Agreeing on what you will say will avoid two contradicting stories, which will confuse your children and only cause them to grieve more.
Since every child is different, there is no way to predict how your children will react to the news. Some children may be more observant than their parents realize and will not necessarily be shocked by the news of a divorce while others may be completely caught off guard and even have trouble understanding what divorce will mean for the family. Regardless of how well they seem to take it or no, you can help cheer them up for the moment with simple actions of affection. Trying to lighten the mood after the discussion, if possible, will help alleviate the initial shock of the news.
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember after you have told your kids about your divorce is that they will be watching every move you make. When a child is told that their parents are separating, it is natural for them to fear having to choose one over the other. You and your spouse can help your child by filtering the way that you talk about, talk to and act around your spouse. Avoid fighting with one another or speaking harsh things about your spouse within the hearing distance of your child. As a parent, your child looks to you for dependence which means that allowing yourself to be overly emotional about the divorce. This isn't to undermine your own struggles, but as someone in authority and who has responsibility for your children, you need to come across to them as reliable and strong as much as possible.
As difficult as the thought and process of divorce is, your children need both of their parents to assure them that the end of a marriage does not mean the end of their family. When you initially break the news and then have follow-up discussions about it with them, make sure that they are always assured, both in word and deed, that they can rely on their parents and that you will be there for them. Lastly, remember what promises you make to your children. Empty promises can damage both your relationship with your children and permanently corrupt their perception of the people around them, especially when it comes to future relationships.
If you are considering filing for divorce or if you need legal assistance with your current divorce, contact Pasadena divorce attorney Fritzie Galliani today.