Divorce is a time of transition, and transition brings stress. Divorce is much more challenging when children are involved. Talking to children about divorce is difficult for parents. There is no ideal way to broach the subject or prepare for their reaction to the news. This short guide is designed to help you talk to your children about divorce and minimize the stress this news brings.
Helping Your Children Through Divorce
Establish a United Front as Parents
You and your ex will need to co-parent once the divorce is finalized, so you must approach this difficult task as a team. When you tell your children that you are divorcing, both of you must be there to support them.
Plan What You Will Say
A conversation about divorce is not the time to wing it. You and your spouse should plan what you say to your children. This can be difficult when there are tense feelings, but working together is essential. Remember to touch on the plan for moving forward and plenty of reminders that you both love your children immensely.
Choose an Appropriate Time
Timing is critical when discussing divorce with your children. You want to avoid bringing up such a delicate subject before they have to be somewhere else, like school. For most families, the ideal time to bring up divorce is on a Friday night. This way, you have the weekend to answer questions and help them deal with the news. As they absorb the information, your kids will likely have many questions regarding custody, living situations, and other factors.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
Talking to children about divorce can be challenging. Your children’s age and maturity levels should guide how you approach the conversation. This may mean having one conversation with teenagers and another with younger siblings. Please don’t tell the oldest child and let them break the news to younger children. Children need to hear this news directly from their parents.
Explain What Will Change and What Will Remain the Same
After you have told your children about the divorce, explaining what will change and what will stay the same is essential. Sharing that information is essential if they need to move or switch schools. It’s also important to let them know what will remain the same.
The three most important things to emphasize are:
- This is not your fault. Your children must know that the decision to divorce was between you and your spouse and that they did nothing to cause this.
- It’s okay to be sad or angry. Your kids need to know that it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions when confronted with their parent’s divorce. Let them know that they can talk to you about their feelings no matter what.
- We are still a family. Your family dynamic may be changing, but you are still a family. Ensure your children understand they will still have both parents after the divorce.
Do Not Blame Your Spouse
Regardless of the reason for your divorce, do not blame each other. Children tend to understand the need for divorce when each parent takes responsibility for their part in the marriage breakdown. Ensure the children know they have no blame or fault, as they often believe they have caused their parent’s problems.
Remain Open to Questions
Your children may not have questions right away. Be prepared for them to raise questions throughout the separation and divorce process. It’s important to respond as honestly as possible to their questions. In some cases, your child may ask questions that are not appropriate or involve an issue that is not their business. It’s important not to overshare intimate details about your marital problems.
Provide Continual Support
Every family and family is different, so it’s impossible to recommend one “right way” to talk to children about divorce in a single article. Talking to children about divorce is an ongoing process as your family changes and adapts. For more advice, Psychology Today has excellent information about how to talk to your children. In general, choose your words carefully, provide plenty of reassurance throughout the divorce process, and let your actions (attention, quality time, keeping promises) speak even louder than your words.
Turn to the Leavitt Family Law Group
If you’ve decided to end your marriage, you must consult an experienced divorce attorney about your rights. When you need a family law attorney in Henderson, Nevada, call the Leavitt Family Law Group at 702-447-0084 or contact us online. We serve clients in Henderson, Las Vegas, and surrounding communities.
The Leavitt Family Law Group team is ready to help you with aspects of your divorce, from child custody to spousal support and asset division. We will work hard to protect your rights and secure the best outcome for you and your family.