How to Talk To Your Children about Divorce
Divorce is never easy on a family. Add children to the mix, and you must prepare for the most challenging conversations you will ever have as a parent. While consulting a divorce lawyer in Schaumburg is essential, gently breaking the news to your children should also be a priority.
What you say and how you say it will affect them and their ability to cope. Even if they know divorce is inevitable, choose your words carefully to soften the blow. While it may be challenging, work with your spouse for the best approach. We have provided some tips that can help you.
What Children Expect From Their Parents during a Divorce
According to research, divorce or separation is associated with an increased risk for adolescent adjustment issues, academic difficulties, depression, and disruptive behavior. Most of these cases result from contentious divorces that disregarded the children’s mental health.
To ensure your children have an easier transition to a single-parent household, or live between their parents, put their fears at ease. Here are some things you should know:
- They want both parents to stay involved in their lives. This means they don’t want anyone to stop them from calling, emailing, texting, or asking questions from the other parent. Otherwise, they may feel unloved.
- They want you to stop fighting and get along with one another. This may be difficult during divorce proceedings, but try to be amicable with one another. When you fight, your children may feel they are to blame.
- They want to enjoy the time they spend with either of you. Acting upset or jealous when they are with the other parent only makes them feel guilty and upset. In this case, they think they need to take sides or love one parent more than the other.
- They don’t want to become messengers between you and the other parent. Communicate directly with your ex and leave them out of it. They are hurting as much as you are, but they don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with complex emotions.
- They want you to remain amicable with one another and refrain from saying unkind things. Otherwise, they think you expect them to take sides.
- They want both of you in their lives as they count on you to raise them and help them with problems.
How You Should Talk To Your Children about Divorce
Keeping these things in mind, here are some ways you can talk to your children about your divorce to make the transition easier for them:
1. Present a United Front
Before speaking to your children, discuss what you will say to them with your ex. Set up specific talking points and clarify what shouldn’t be discussed. Come together as a parenting team so you can share the news together calmly.
The discussion will set the tone for your co-parenting strategy. Naturally, a positive tone will bode well for you both, especially the children, who may take some time to get used to the situation. Even if your divorce is contentious, put your differences aside and tell your children that you made the decision together.
Blaming one another will only make the children part of an event they are not responsible for. Use the word ‘we’ so you present a united front. Also, let them know how you will organize their time between households. This includes the schedules for each parent, school pickup routes, vacations, and other things that can ensure them everything is under control.
Keep It Simple with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Tailor the discussion according to each child’s age. For example, keep in mind that toddlers:
- Are entirely dependent on you as caretakers.
- Cannot understand complex events or understand your feelings.
- Are just developing their independence.
- Are unable to think about or comprehend future events.
- Their understanding of the world is based on their perspective.
- Cannot discern between fantasy and reality clearly.
- Know about feelings but cannot discuss them.
Rather than discussing why you are getting a divorce with your toddlers, tell them that Daddy and Mommy will be living in separate homes, and you will always love them. They may have some questions for you, but if they understand that they have nothing to do with your divorce and will always be cherished, their experience may be less traumatic.
Make sure to choose simple and straightforward language. Small children cannot fully understand complex emotions and events. Limit the information you provide so they don’t get confused or misunderstand. Remember, toddlers and preschoolers are literal. Half-truths, snide comments, or metaphorical language will be taken at face value. Don’t sugarcoat the word ‘divorce.’
Here is a simple script that you can use:
“Daddy/Mommy and I are getting something that is called a divorce. That means instead of living together, we will live in different homes. So Mommy will have a house, and Daddy will have his house. You know the best part? You get to live in both houses and spend time with Mommy and Daddy in their house. We will always love and take care of you.”
Be Direct, But Gentle With Teenagers and Pre-Teens
Older children, such as teens and pre-teens, may exhibit anger and frustration. They are old enough to experience genuine grief at the divorce and may be tempted to take sides. They can feel betrayed, close themselves off, and refuse to communicate. An aggressive approach will make them feel they need to protect themselves.
Teens understand divorce but don’t have the emotional maturity to process it in a healthy manner. They are still discovering themselves and need a stable family structure so they don’t feel like they are spiraling out of control. A divorce can be a shock, but you can mitigate damages by using these tips to discuss it:
Teens are emotionally mature enough to know when they are being manipulated, so honesty is vital. Don’t include inappropriate details (such as cheating, financial fraud, etc.), and be open to questions. At this time, they need to understand that they can trust you.
Tell Them Together
By telling your teens about the divorce with your spouse, you can show them that you are still a family even though you will be living separately.
They may look like adults, but teenagers are as emotionally fragile as children, especially during a crisis. They need to feel stable. To ensure this, ensure they know you have already set up a routine for each home. While the experience will still disturb them, a schedule or routine will stabilize them, giving them time to process.
Don’t Ignore Their Feelings
Share your feelings and let your teens know that you realize they are hurting and that they will always be loved even if they close themselves off. An open and caring relationship will make them open up eventually.
Top Phrases to Reduce Your Child’s Stress When Discussing Divorce
Finding words to express yourself during this hard time can be challenging. Here are some phrases that can help you alleviate your children’s stress when discussing divorce:
“Mom and dad love you very much.”
Repeat this phrase as much as you can during the process. Children need repetition to feel a sense of stability. Add reassuring comments to show them they will be loved and cared for.
“Your mom/dad and I have been having difficulties lately.”
Do not make specific negative comments about one another. Remember, your aim should be to inform your children about the divorce, not the circumstances surrounding it. They have no control or understanding of those anyway and may resent you. So no matter how frustrated or angry you are, don’t attack or blame one another in front of them.
“This isn’t your fault.”
This statement will reassure your children that the divorce was your and your spouse’s decision, and they had nothing to do with it.
“Do you have any questions?”
End the discussion with this statement and give your children time to respond. They will need time to process the news before telling you their uncertainties. If they are too upset to talk, validate their feelings by saying you understand how upset they are and that you are too. Also, encourage them to come to you later with questions if they want time to process the divorce.
Contact The Law Office Of Fedor Kozlov For A Consultation Today!
A divorce can have a lasting impact on your family. At this time, you need time to process and ensure your children are protected. But if you have a contentious divorce, you have much more to lose than you realize. An experienced divorce lawyer in Schaumburg can take on the process for you and guide you to ensure your rights are protected as you go your separate ways.
If you are searching for a divorce attorney who is compassionate and professional, contact the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov for a consultation by dialing (847) 241-1299. We understand that a divorce can have a long-lasting financial and emotional impact on you and your family. Our lawyers have the experience, knowledge, and resources to ease your burden and stress.
At this time, you need skilled legal counsel that can help you overcome unique challenges during your case. This includes child custody and parenting time arrangements that can prove stressful if mismanaged. Our consultations are 100% confidential and thorough, so you can rest assured that addressing your concerns will be our top priority.