How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce
Thousands of children experience the stress of divorce each year, and talking to your kids about divorce can be extremely difficult. How your kids react to the news depends on their age, personality and particular circumstances surrounding the separation and divorce. You will therefore need to tailor your discussion with your kids depending on their maturity.
There are, however, a few things all parents should do when talking to their kids about divorce. Aside from maintaining consistent routines (keep your children enrolled at the same school, encourage playdates with the same friends, etc.), below are a few pointers for making the divorce discussion easier on you, as well as your children.
Keep Your Messages Clear & Simple
No matter how old your children are, keep your messages clear and simple. You should leave out messy details of you and your spouse’s relationship that could lead your kids to believe they can fix the problem, or that the divorce is their fault. Try to explain to your kids–preferably with your spouse–that mommy and daddy can’t live together anymore, this was an adult decision, now there will be two homes where they will be loved and the decision had nothing to do with them.
For older children, the news may come as no surprise. They may have friends with divorced parents, or maybe they overheard you and your spouse discussing divorce. For younger children, it may come as a complete shock. Whether your children were prepared for the news or shocked by it, all kids have questions they are afraid to ask. Make sure to give your kids repeated opportunities to ask questions and voice their feelings or concerns.
Make Sure Your Kids Know They Are Safe
Many children are curious how the divorce will change their day-to-day lives. There are also many other concerns your kids have that will go unspoken. You want to encourage your children to voice their anxieties and legitimize their feelings. Spoken and unspoken questions should be addressed:
- Is there anything I could have done to make you stay together?
- How often will I get to see you?
- Will you still love me if we don’t live together?
- Will there be enough money?
- Do I have to move?
Make sure to answer these questions honestly and clearly, and ensure your children that they will always be safe and loved. Let your children know how their day-to-day routines will change, but try to keep disruptions to a minimum. Offer as much support to your kids as possible, taking them to a therapist can be extremely helpful. Always keep your children’s needs first and remind them that despite the upcoming changes, you hope the family will be happier and healthier.
Make Sure Your Kids Know This Is Not Their Fault
It is critical that your children know your divorce is not their fault and there was nothing they could have done to stop it. Reinforce that this was an adult decision based on adult problems between mom and dad. Too often children believe that if they had only behaved better or done something differently their parents would not be divorced. Therefore, it is important to repeatedly remind your children that they are not to blame in any way, and that mom and dad will be there for them no matter what.
Divorce can be a difficult and trying time for you as well as the entire family. If you are facing divorce or have other family law needs, the DiPietro legal team is here to help. Contact the DiPietro Family Law Group attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (703) 370 – 5555.
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