Going through a divorce can be a very difficult experience for everyone involved, especially the children. When parents decide to end their relationship, they must address issues such as child custody, child support and visitation. For children, adjusting to their new living situations can be confusing and stressful. It is therefore important that parents think carefully about what they will tell the children about their divorce. The following are some tips:
Establish a United Front
Kids will feel more secure if both parents come together to tell them about the divorce. Assure them that although some things might change, their parents love them unconditionally and will always be there for them. Parents should refrain from placing blame on one another or the child may feel like they are caught in the middle and must choose a side. Therefore, even if parents are at odds, they should come together to send a clear, consistent message to the children regarding the reasons for the divorce and the ways in which it will affect their lives.
Keep it Age-Appropriate
Although parents should be honest with their children regarding the divorce and how it will affect them, it may be prudent not to share too much information. Children should not be made to feel as if they must pick sides. Therefore, parents should answer questions about the divorce without placing blame or providing unnecessary details. Also, young children may not fully understand the concept of divorce. Try to speak to them in language they can understand and explain it to them in a relatable way.
Children often believe that they are to blame for the divorce. Parents should assure them that it is not their fault. Also, children will want answers to questions regarding where they will live, what school they will attend, and what they can expect going forward. Being honest with the children regarding school and living arrangements will help alleviate their anxiety about the uncertain future. However, parents should not put children in the middle of adult issues – a general explanation regarding the reason for the divorce should be sufficient. Focus instead on reassuring the children that everything will be okay.
Be Open and Supportive
Sometimes, children have a difficult time opening up about their feelings. Parents should let their children know that they are willing to have open conversations about what they are going through. Kids will be better able to work through their issues if they can be honest about their feelings. Parents can help children adjust in a healthy manner by acknowledging their feelings and letting them know that they are understood and supported.