One of the most challenging aspects of parents making the decision to end their marriage is finding the best way to tell their children of their intentions. Understandably, parents want to limit the emotional toll divorce has on their children whenever possible. Even so, issues surrounding children and divorce are complex and not without challenges. With all of this in mind, there are some methods to consider employing when it comes to how to tell your children about this decision.
Be a United Front
Co-parenting is a word that you will hear often when it comes to a divorce involving children. You and your spouse need to find a way to co-parent going forward in order to protect the best interests of your children. An ideal time to begin the process of co-parenting is from the moment you decide to inform your children that you have decided to divorce. The wellbeing of your children is better served if both parents share in communicating to their children the decision to divorce.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
A major strategy you need to apply when it comes to discussing divorce with your kids is to use age-appropriate language. Language is not universal. You don’t want to discuss your decision to end your marriage to an older child in the same manner that you would discuss it with a younger child. This may entail having more than one conversation with your children about your decision to divorce based on their age but in the end, you will be thankful that you did.
Remember to Emphasize That it is Not Their Fault
You and your spouse need to make it abundantly clear to your children that they play no role in your decision to seek a divorce. Children of any age may believe that they are somehow responsible for your divorce, especially younger children. For the current and future wellbeing of your children it is important to remind them time and time again that they bear no part in your decision to dissolve your marriage.
It’s natural for your children to want to know why you have chosen to get a divorce. Be prepared for these questions and encourage your children to speak freely. Make yourself as available as possible for an open dialogue and try to keep your answers as honest as possible. It’s important to note that not all questions have a child’s appropriate answer. If your child has a question where the answer is sensitive in nature, an appropriate response to that question is that it is not an appropriate question for them to be asking. With that said, that type of response, or nonresponse, should be used sparingly.
Speak to a Professional
During separation and divorce, children may experience uncertainty and emotional upheaval, especially when dealing with changes in their family's roles and rules. Because of this, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a family therapist. A good family therapist will not only offer emotional support but can also assist in the process of redefining relationships as well as addressing family members' concerns, responsibilities and needs.
Do Not Give Children False Hope
A final and crucial point to keep in mind when it comes to children and divorce is that you need to avoid giving your children false hope that a marriage may recover. Oftentimes, children of different ages will remain hopeful that there may still be a chance their parents will reconcile. Feeding into that false hope can be detrimental to your children. It is important to always be direct and honest with your children, using age-appropriate communication to prevent giving them false hope that you and your spouse might somehow remain together.
The family law attorneys at Bozanian McGregor LLC are readily available to help you and your family navigate your divorce. Call us today, or reach out through our website to set up a consultation!