If you have children and you are considering a divorce, you are almost certainly wondering how your divorce will impact the lives of your children. You probably know that most children are resilient are usually able to adapt fairly easily to their new, post-divorce life, but when it is your children who are involved, it may be difficult to keep that in mind. It will also be challenging to break the news about your divorce to them. Discussing divorce is almost always tough, especially with your children, but family and relationship experts have some helpful advice about how to manage the conversation.
Present a Unified Front
The initial discussion about your divorce is important, and it should be treated as such. Set aside a specific time without distractions to have the conversation. Turn off the television, put cell phones on silent, and make it a point for you and your spouse to be present and engaged.
In more volatile situations, it may not be possible for you and your spouse to talk with your children together, but doing so is better than the alternative for several reasons. First, it gives the children a single “version” of the situation, which helps mitigate confusion. Separate conversations with each parent create the possibility that your children will hear two very different explanations for the decision to divorce. Having the discussion together also helps to show your children that you are still a team when it comes to protecting their best interests. You will no longer be married to each other, but you both will be your children’s parents forever.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
Your children do not need to know that your spouse has been neglecting your needs for several years, nor should they be told that about your extra-marital affair, even if these things are true. Younger children simply need to know the reality of the changing situation. Tell them that you and your spouse will be living in separate places for a while. Remind them that you both still love them and that none of what happened was their fault.
Older children may be better equipped to handle more details, but you should still avoid giving too much information. The relationship you have with your spouse should remain between the two of you. Avoid the temptation to color your children’s opinion of the other parent with accounts of his or her shortcomings.
Be Ready to Be Surprised
It is impossible to predict how your children will react when you tell them about your divorce. Some children will retreat into themselves and go quiet. Others may break down and cry or get extremely angry. Give your children the freedom to feel whatever comes naturally—within reason, of course. It is understandable for your child to be angry, for example, but it is not acceptable for him or her to break things out of anger.
Your children may also surprise you with insightful questions or comments. If they are in school, there is a good chance that they know at least a few other children whose parents have divorced, so they may already understand that not all parents live in the same house forever. They are likely to ask about the possibility of changing schools or when they will see each parent, and you might not have all of the answers yet. It is okay to tell your children that you are still figuring out some of the details, as long as you make good on your promises to follow up with them as things become clearer.
Get the Help You Need
As you move forward with your divorce, your children will continue to have questions. You are also likely to have many of your own. An experienced Medina County family law attorney can help you find the answers you need. Call for a free consultation at Erb Legal LLC today.