Divorce is never easy, and it only becomes more complicated when children get involved. Talking to your children about divorce can be daunting, but it's a step you'll need to take at some point. Approaching the topic in the right way can help your children deal with the divorce more healthily and make the overall divorce less stressful for all parties.
Talking with the Kids About Divorce
Here are some steps you can take to make talking with your children about divorce easier:
- Pick a good moment. Kids remember the moment their parents tell them about an impending divorce for a long time. Make sure you and your spouse are emotionally stable and have discussed how you'll reveal the news to your children. Be aware of what your children have going on—if one of them just lost a friendship or is having trouble at school, wait a while. The initial announcement may be traumatizing for your children, so handle it with care. Importantly, if you have more than one child, tell the whole family at once. Don't try and shelter the younger child, because doing so will only place more of a burden on your eldest.
- Don't take their reaction personally. Your child may yell at you and say they hate you. They may tell you that you're ruining their life. They may tell you that they're happy you're divorcing. They may not say anything at all.
Whatever your child's reaction is, take it in stride. This is an emotional moment for them, and they probably need an outlet. Do not take it personally. You can discuss their reaction when things have cooled down a bit, preferably with the help of a therapist or counselor. Acknowledging your child's feelings and letting them know you hear them is vital for maintaining a good parent-child relationship.
- Be realistic. Divorce is often a long, arduous process. Let your children know that it will take a while to finalize the divorce. If they're old enough to have input on the child custody arrangement, allow them to have a voice and listen to their desires. Divorces can take months or even years to finalize, so keeping your child up-to-date and being realistic about elements of the divorce like child custody can make it easier for everyone.
Telling your children about divorce is never easy. But approaching the conversation in the right way can help make the divorce process more manageable and ensure you maintain a strong parent-child relationship throughout the divorce.
For help with your divorce, contact us online or call us at (636) 400-1177 for a consultation.