Divorce isn't easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. You may feel apprehensive about breaking the news of your impending divorce to your children. Your worry is understandable since this conversation can be quite stressful. That doesn't mean that there aren't steps you can take to make this talk a little easier to have. Here are some tips to help you talk with your children about your divorce.
HAVE A PLAN WITH YOUR SPOUSE
While some people are excellent at speaking off-the-cuff, this is a conversation that should have some careful thought put into it before you sit your family down to talk. Even if you and your spouse don't see eye-to-eye right now, try to work together to come up with a plan to present the news to your children. Determine who will speak and when they will talk. Decide what order you want to present the details. Most importantly, try to keep a united front, no matter how you both are feeling. Remaining cooperative in front of your children can help ease their fears and help them to feel more confident in your abilities to guide your family through this.
CHOOSE YOUR TIME CAREFULLY
It's likely that the news of your divorce will be somewhat shocking or difficult for your children, even if they had their own suspicions. When choosing the best time to break the news, try to pick a time when your children will have a day or two to process the news and their feelings. Often, the start of a quiet weekend is a good time for this talk. Try not to schedule anything after the talk until you've seen how your kids are handling the news.
TELL THE WHOLE FAMILY
If you have siblings, you may remember the frustration you felt when your older siblings got news before you did, or perhaps you remember the stress of having to keep a secret for your parents. It can be hard for kids to deal with the news of your divorce, especially if you tell them one at a time. Rather than place extra responsibility on your children or risk hurt feelings, try to sit every member of your family down for a discussion together. This also means that you won't need to have this talk over and over again with each child.
FOCUS ON FACTS
While it can be easy to play the blame game or let your hurt feelings show, this should be avoided as much as possible. Instead, stick to the simple facts. Your children may not understand the intricacies of your marriage, but they can understand things they can observe.
Some things you could touch on include:
- That your marriage isn't working anymore, so you are breaking up so everyone can be happy again.
- That you and your spouse are the only ones responsible for the success or failure of your marriage, not your children.
- That your children did not cause your divorce, and they also cannot “fix” your marriage.
- That your children will still be loved and cared for by both parents.
- That you will face the changes together as a family.
You can also talk about the things you know will change, or won't change. For instance, your kids may be able to keep living in the family home, or they may move to a different house, but still stay in the same school. Understanding how their lives will change will let them prepare for the divorce.
There are many ways you can support your children after breaking the news to them. Some kids may want cuddles and reassurance, others may ask a million questions. Some may throw a fit or want to be left alone. You may already have some idea of how your kids will react to the news. No matter how they handle it, make sure they know you are there to talk and they are still loved.
Sometimes you may not have all the answers to their questions, but you should still answer what you can. You can also look outside the family for support. Teachers and coaches can be valuable resources. Your children may feel more comfortable talking to a counselor, therapist, or family friend about the divorce. You can also see if there are any older kids in your child's life who have been through a divorce and would be willing to mentor your children.
SPEAK WITH OUR RHODE ISLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEYS – (401) 823-9200
You don't have to face the challenge of your divorce alone. Our compassionate and experienced team of Rhode Island divorce lawyers can help you successfully navigate the process of your divorce. At Inman & Tourgee, we put your best interest first, so you can trust that you will receive the thoughtful legal solutions and support you need.
Schedule a free consultation to learn more. Contact us by calling (401) 823-9200.