Tips for Talking to Your Children About Divorce
When you are planning to file for divorce and you have children with your spouse, it can be difficult to know the best way for breaking the news to your kids. Parents worry that their children will not take the news of the divorce well, and they have concerns about the emotional well-being of their kids. While divorce is never easy for anyone, children can have a particularly difficult time adjusting to a separation and a dissolution of marriage. The divorce is likely to change the kids’ routines significantly, and they will likely need to acclimate to a time-sharing schedule that involves splitting time between the parents’ new residences.
Given the complications of getting divorced with children, it is especially important to plan ahead as you think through the process of telling your kids about the divorce. Articles in Psychology Today and Parents magazine provide tips that can help parents with this difficult step in the divorce process. We want to discuss some of those tips with you below.
- Tell All of Your Kids At the Same Time
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make when breaking the news of a divorce to their kids is to tell one of the children before the others. When only one child knows that the divorce is imminent, that child can experience an extremely heavy psychological burden—to keep the secret of the divorce from the younger kids, and, potentially, to feel that it is their responsibility to break the news. Accordingly, it is best to tell all of your children at the same time. Psychologists recommend bringing children together in a space where they are comfortable and breaking the news.
- Both Parents Should Tell Their Children Together
If possible, parents should plan to be together when their children learn about the divorce so that the kids hear the news from both parents. This tactic can help to prevent the kids from thinking that the divorce decision was made by only one of the parents, or that one of the parents is to blame. As the article in Parents magazine underscores, using the word “we” as much as you can help the kids to understand that both parents have reached the decision to get divorced, and it can help to prevent the children from becoming bitter toward one of the parents.
- Plan Ahead
Assuming you are still able to communicate with your spouse, you should talk in advance and plan what you will both say to your children. Just as you would prefer for any other important conversation or discussion in another area of your life, you should also plan ahead and practice for this difficult conversation. What you say to your children up front is likely to stick with them for awhile, and you want to make sure you strike the right tone and say everything you want to convey.
- Be Open to Your Kids’ Responses
Children will respond to news of a divorce in different ways. Do not expect a single reaction, and be prepared for a variety of emotional responses. Emphasize to your kids that all of the emotions they are experiencing are valid.
- Be Honest
If your kids have specific questions about the divorce, it is important to be honest, even if the answers are difficult ones to give. For example, if your kids want to know if they will need to move out of their home and split their time between two smaller houses or apartments, it is important to build trust now by telling them the truth.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Orlando
The divorce process in Florida is never easy, but an experienced Orlando divorce attorney can help you with all matters pertaining to your case, from property division to child custody. Contact Anderson & Ferrin for more information.