Talking With Your Children about Divorce
The decision to divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances. A couple with children, however, may be faced with an even more challenging situation. In addition to making the necessary arrangements for issues such as custody, visitation, and child support, parents also have an obligation to help their children through the process, while reducing unnecessary stress and confusion. This generally means that parents must be able to talk to their children about the life changes being effected by divorce to help them understand, as best they can based on their maturity level, what a post-divorce life will be like and how their lives may change.
Be Age Appropriate
When discussing divorce with your children, it important to realize that communication is an ongoing process, not just a one-time conversation. This is especially true in younger children who, as they grow and mature, will likely have more questions and seek to understand the situation on a deeper level. The discussion must begin, however, with your understanding of what your child is capable of comprehending. For example, a pre-school aged child would not grasp the concept of you feeling emotionally isolated from your spouse. Instead, simply explaining that Mom and Dad will both be happier may be a better start.
Focus on the Positive
While older children may not be terribly surprised at the prospect of divorce, as many of their friends likely have divorced parents, children of any age should be encouraged to see the relative advantage of the situation. Remind your children that they will now have two homes in which they will be loved. Reassure them that you and your spouse will continue be a significant part of their lives, regardless of the situation. Also, listen to their responses and do your best to identify and answer the questions they may be having trouble asking.
It Is Not Their Fault
Divorce is an issue between adults, even if child-raising issues played a role. Your children need to know that they are not responsible for your divorce. Feelings of responsibility on the part of a child are easily internalized, and if not addressed, can lead to emotional and psychological problems in the future. In addition to continually reassuring your children that they are not to blame, it is also vital that they understand that they cannot undo the split either.
Professional Legal Advice
For many families, reducing the stress of the divorce process can help children better deal with their changing reality. A qualified lawyer can help you minimize contentiousness and uncertainty, allowing you to focus on the happiness and well-being of your children. If you are considering divorce, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney today to schedule a consultation.