Divorce can be a traumatic, life-changing event for children. The more parents know about how to guide their children through the divorce process, the easier it will be for them to handle the divorce.
Understanding how and when to broach the topic of divorce with your children enables you to make the best choices for your kids as you dissolve your marriage.
The Best Way to Tell Your Kids About Divorce
When you and your partner are getting ready to talk with your kids about divorce, here's what you should keep in mind:
- Timing is everything. The last thing you want to do is tell your kids about the divorce right after one of them has failed a test or lost a soccer game (or even worse, is going through a breakup of their own). You should know what's going on in your kids' lives. Try to tell them about the divorce when you know they're doing well.
- Have a script. The moment you tell your kids about the divorce might stick with them for the rest of their lives. You and your partner should both know what you're going to say ahead of time—now is not the moment to put your improvisational skills to the test.
- Allow your children to have (and keep having) an emotional reaction. Depending on the age of your children, their reactions will probably be different. A high schooler won't be affected by divorce the same way as younger child will. Younger children might lash out more openly, while older children might try to engage in more subtle reactive behavior (misbehaving at school, partying with friends, etc.). Whatever the case, you and your partner need to be there as a source of love and support for your children. It can be difficult to bear the burden of conflict with your children while going through a divorce, but the kinder you are, the easier the divorce will be as a whole.
- Don't shy away from therapy. Family counseling can be incredibly useful for getting children to come to grips with a divorce and to get parents to remain on good terms with one another. If the divorce is weighing on your family, don't be afraid to invest in a good therapist.
- Show emotion in front of your kids. Lastly, it's okay to be emotional in front of your children. Obviously, you shouldn't disparage your partner or get in blow-out arguments, but it's okay for your kids to see that you're sad, too. Modeling healthy emotional behavior for your children can allow them to process the divorce more holistically.
Taking the above tips into account can help you safeguard your children's best interests while navigating a divorce.
At Lane & Lane, LLC, we help clients work through the divorce process.
To learn more or schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (908) 259-6673.