With forty to fifty percent of married couples proceeding in marriage dissolution, thousands of children experience the stress of divorce each year. While the adults are navigating their own emotions, children are also struggling with their own feelings. Many of these children get lost in the process as their parents often find it difficult to talk to them about divorce.
When parents decide to break the news to their children, it is important to leave any feelings of anger or blame out. Practicing the conversation may be helpful as to release any feelings of anger before talking with them. If possible, parents should also break the news together to avoid confusion. Telling children together also helps to preserve the child’s sense of trust in both parents.
The conversation should also be age appropriate. In other words, “[t]he discussion should fit the child’s age, maturity, and temperament.” It should also always include the following message: “What happened is between mom and dad and is not the child’s fault.” It is imperative to include this message as most children will feel that they are to blame for the separation, when this may be far from reality.
It is also vital to be prepared to handle children’s reactions to the news. For the children who become upset, parents can let them know that they care about these feelings and reassure them that their feelings are understandable. Some children may not react immediately. For these children, parents can let them know that this is also okay and that they will be there for them when they are ready to talk.
While there is no easy way for parents to break the news to their children, there are important things that both parents can do to help guide their children through this challenging time. The following is a list of helpful tips:
· Be truthful and discuss changes with your children.
· For younger children, have a simple and to-the-point conversation.
· Remember to keep legal talk, heated discussions, and visible conflict away from the children.
· It is important to keep each parent involved in the children’s lives.
· Try to minimize any disruptions in their daily routines.
· Restrict negative talk to private therapy sessions or conversations with friends outside of the home.
· Encourage children to share their feelings.
· Remind your children how much you love them.
· Most importantly, support your child as he or she is navigating through the process.
The Certified Family Law Specialists at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex family law matters. If you have any questions about helping your children through this process, please contact the Certified Family Law Specialists at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri for further information. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.