Talking to Your Young Children About Divorce
If you are a parent of young children and you are getting divorced, you will undoubtedly have questions about how your divorce will affect your kids. While most children are eventually able to adapt to their parents’ post-divorce reality, it can be incredibly difficult to break the news to them. Talking about divorce is not easy, especially with children whose entire world is about to change, but experts offer some useful tips that can help you know what to say.
School Aged-Children Know More Than You Realize
If your children are between the ages of about 4 and 8, he or she probably knows other children whose parents are divorced, especially if your children go to school—including preschool. Your children may understand that not all families have both parents living in the same house, but their concerns are likely to revolve around how your decision will affect their lives directly. They may wonder if they will have to move or change schools, and when they will get to see each parent. You may not have the answers to these questions immediately, but that does not mean you should avoid telling your children what is about to happen.
Find a Good Time and Be Unified
It is important to set aside a time to have the first conversation about divorce with your children. In the car on the way to school, for example, is not a good setting. Your children will need to process what you tell them, and you need to be there to help them do that.
You should also make every effort to tell your children about divorce together with your spouse. No matter what difficulties you are having in your own relationship, the two of you owe it to your children to work together on this. Doing so will give your children just one version of the story—which reduces confusion—and shows your children that the decision was mutual. Experts even suggest that a unified front can also help preserve your children’s trust in both parents.
Limit your explanation to just a few simple sentences that describe the basic reality of the situation. It is okay to tell your children that you and your spouse will not be living together for a little while. It is not okay to tell them that your spouse fell in love with someone else—even if it is true. The point of the conversation is to prepare your children for what they are about to experience, not to bring them fully up to date on the health of your relationship.
You should also reassure your children that your divorce is not their fault. Children often internalize blame for their parents splitting up, which if left unchecked, can lead to emotional problems and depression. Take responsibility for the decision as parents, and do not point fingers or blame your spouse. As far as your children are concerned, it does not matter who did what; they just need to know that they are still loved by both parents.
Call Us for Help
As your divorce progresses, your children will probably have a number of questions, and you should do your best to answer them in a manner that is both reasonable and age-appropriate. Along the way, you may also have questions of your own. Fortunately, an experienced Kane County divorce attorney can help you get the answers you need. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.