The end of a marriage is never an ideal situation, but it can be even worse if you have kids in the picture. Explaining the circumstances to them, calming their anxieties and planning for the future might all seem overwhelming when you already have so much on your plate. That is why it is important to talk to your kids about the divorce in a way that is reassuring, positive and constructive. The following tips can offer guidance on what exactly to say.
Have both parents present to talk
Having both parents present when you initiate a discussion can show kids that even though you are separating, you are committed to handling the situation together and collaborating on solutions. This is also a great way to reassure your children that both parents love them, value them and want the best for them. Hearing it from both parents at the same time can keep you from giving the impression that kids must pick sides, so to speak.
Answer questions honestly
When you talk to kids about the divorce, they are likely to have questions about the process, the future and what to expect. Do not avoid discussing important information for the sake of protecting them. Typically kids will derive more reassurance from honestly answered questions than uncertainty. Listen to whatever questions they may have and offer answers to put their minds at ease.
Keep kids' ages in mind
When you are answering these questions, however, you should keep your kids' ages in mind and be sure to provide responses that are appropriate for their maturity level. Sometimes, for the sake of maintaining civility, details should not be discussed. This depends on how old your child is and how you plan to handle the divorce. Try to strike a balance between being honest and non-inflammatory.
Make it clear that it is not their fault
It is not uncommon for younger kids to imagine that divorce is somehow their fault. Seeing their parents separate can be stressful, and children may internalize anxieties. It is essential to tell kids that divorce is not their fault in any way. Proactively addressing this line of thought is the best way to ensure your children do not take responsibility for the situation and develop guilt. If you sense that this may be happening, take the initiative to talk to your kids.
Divorce is never an easy process, but with kids, it can be even more stressful. Acquiring legal representation can simplify matters and give you the assistance you need.