6 Tips For Talking About Your Divorce With Your Kids

May 2, 2024 | Divorce | 0 comments

Getting divorced is never easy. Even if it’s the right decision for you, it’s one that still touches and affects the lives of others – particularly your children. If your children are older or have already left the house, they’re probably able to understand or at least process the divorce on their own. However, if your children are still young, you might be concerned that they won’t understand what’s going on, that they might act out, that they might blame themselves, or that the decision might be stressful to them. While it’s not likely you’ll be able to avoid some of the negative feelings associated with divorce, your behavior and the way that you unfold this decision to them will set the tone for how they handle the upcoming changes.

In order to soften the blow and begin the healing process on the right foot, here are some tips our experienced divorce lawyers suggest for presenting this news to your children in the most constructive way.

Have A Truthful Explanation Prepared

Before you sit down with your child to talk to them, it’s important to have a game plan prepared. Kids are smarter and more observant than they’re often credited for, so you don’t want them to be able to see through a flimsy explanation. The feeling that things are being shielded from them will only cause them more confusion and anxiety.

Discuss with your ex ahead of time about what to say. You want your explanation to be truthful but not necessarily complex. Kids generally understand the concept of “no longer friends” or “no longer living together.” If they are a little older, you might benefit from highlighting specific marital differences in a way that does not place any blame.

Depending on the circumstances, however, it might not be appropriate to share details with children, at least not right away. If you are divorcing over adultery, for instance, your kids probably don’t need to know that one of you is cheating while they are still processing the news of the separation.

How much they are able to understand and respond will depend on the age of the child. Whatever their age, give them room to ask questions and be prepared with appropriate explanations. Your willingness to give your kids the information that they seek will help them feel empowered in this situation. Most of all, they will want to know how the divorce will impact them, so prepare them with a walk through of what they can expect from a custody arrangement. (You will not be living together, they might have to go to a new school, etc.) Be careful not to overload them with information, however.

Talk To Your Kids As A Team

You want to present a united front with your ex as much as possible. Let your children know the two of you are on the same page and it’s not just one person who is making life-changing decisions. Witnessing your alignment will be reassuring for your children because it signals to them that divorce is the right decision. You want your child to feel as secure as possible, and the best way to do so is to reinforce to them that the adults are handling the adult issues together.

Don’t Try To Make Your Spouse Look Bad

Avoid bitterness or any kind of language that places blame on your spouse. Under no circumstances should you try to make your kids choose between the two of you. Children who are put in the middle of a toxic divorce do not fare well, and you run the risk of losing their trust altogether. Presenting a united front and maintaining a respectful attitude in the presence of your children will speak volumes to them. You never want them to feel like they are collateral in the divorce, and involving them in your conflict in even minute ways can make them feel like they are in the middle of the conflict.

Assure Your Kids They Are Not At Fault

Kids tend to see themselves as the center of their universe, so it’s a typical reaction for a child to blame themselves or question how their actions contributed to the divorce. They might ask whether daddy is leaving because they failed to properly clean their room or if mommy doesn’t want them anymore because they painted on the walls. Children want some sense of control over their world, so it can be helpful to instill in them that your separation is entirely out of their control and not by any means their own fault.

Let Your Kids Express Their Feelings

If your child is upset by the news, allowing them space to express their feelings is healthy. Dealing with their grief will allow them to move onto the next step toward acceptance. Allow them time to cry or ask questions as needed. Listen to them, respond to their needs, and treat their concerns seriously. You must be their rock during this time–eventually, they will be able to handle the changes. If you feel that they can use some extra help with the process, consider booking them an appointment with a child therapist who can help them process and express how they are feeling.

Reassure Them

If there is one thing you assure your children about your divorce, make sure they know that, although your relationship with your spouse is ending, your relationship with them is as strong as ever. Don’t allow them to think that they are losing anyone in their life. Instead, highlight for them the things that will remain constant and even some benefits that will emerge from the changes. Now they get two holidays, houses, and birthdays! In the midst of divorce, try to find occasions to spend extra time with them, do things that they like to do, take them out to eat special places, and plan special trips.

Trust Lunn Law With All Your Divorce Inquiries

The divorce lawyers at Lunn Law have experience in all types of divorces, and we are committed to making this process as easy as possible on you and your family. After you schedule a case assessment with us, we will provide you with an in-depth case assessment where we can give you more information about divorce and custody questions you may have! Call today.