Divorce is a complex and emotional topic for anyone to discuss. It can be even more complicated when you are going through it. You may feel like you are walking on eggshells around your kids, not knowing what to say or how to say it. This can lead to unhealthy communication habits, like withholding information or being too vague, leaving kids feeling confused, suspicious, and less likely to trust you.
To protect your relationship with your kids and help them understand and cope with this significant life change, here are some tips on how to talk to them about divorce:
- Be honest: It is important to be honest with your kids about what is happening. They will sense if you are trying to protect them by not giving them all the details, and it will only make them more anxious. Instead, give them as much information as they can handle based on their age and maturity level. Some great examples of honest statements are, “Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce. This means we will live in different homes, but we will both still love you very much,” or “We are getting a divorce, but it has nothing to do with you.”
- Be age-appropriate: When deciding how much information to share with your kids, be sure to tailor it to their age and maturity level. For example, a young child will likely only need to know that Mommy and Daddy are getting divorced and will still love them very much. However, an older child or teenager may want or need to know more details about what is happening and why, including what the future of custody looks like.
- Be consistent: It is important to be consistent with your kids when you are talking about divorce. This means that if you tell them Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce, you need to stick to that story. Do not try to sugarcoat it by saying things like, “We are just taking some time apart” or “We are getting a divorce but we will still be friends.” This will only confuse your kids and make them feel like they can’t trust you.
- Be positive: Even though divorce is a difficult topic, it is important to try and remain positive when you are talking to your kids about it. This doesn’t mean that you have to put on a fake smile and act like everything is okay. It just means that you should focus on the positive aspects of the situation, like the fact that you will still be their parent and they will still have a home and a family.
- Listen: It is just as important to listen to your kids when you are talking to them about divorce as it is to talk. This means really listening to what they are saying and how they are feeling. If they seem upset, give them a hug or let them know it is okay to cry. If they have questions, answer them as best you can. And if they just need to vent, let them do so without judging or interrupting.
These are just a few tips to remember when discussing divorce with your kids. Remember, every family is different so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Just be honest, age-appropriate, consistent, and positive, and you will be on the right track.
Q: When Is the Best Time to Talk To My Kids About the Divorce?
A: The best time to talk to your kids about the divorce is when you are both ready and have a plan in place. This way, you can be sure that you are both on the same page and can provide your kids with consistent information. It is generally advised to have the difficult conversation earlier rather than later, as kids tend to adjust better when they have more time to process the information. It is also better that they hear the news directly from you rather than risking them finding out from someone else.
Q: How Much Detail Should I Give My Kids About the Divorce?
A: The amount of detail you give your kids about the divorce will depend on their age and maturity level. For younger children, it is often best to keep things simple and just tell them that mom and dad are not going to be married anymore. You can explain that sometimes grown-ups have disagreements and decide it is best to live apart. Older children and teens may want more details and will likely have lots of questions. It is important to be open and honest with them.
Q: How Do I Tell My Kids About the Divorce?
A: The most important thing is to be sure that both parents are on the same page about what they are going to say. It is often best for one parent to sit down with the kids and break the news together. Once you have done that, be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Answer questions directly and honestly to build trust with your kids during a time where the sheer fact that their family is changing can be confusing and scary.
Q: What if My Kids Are Angry With Me?
A: It is normal for kids to feel angry or resentful after a divorce. They may blame one parent or both parents for the split. They may also feel like they have to choose sides. It is important to reassure your kids that they are not responsible for the divorce and that it is not their fault. Let them know that you love them no matter what, and encourage them to express their feelings. Sometimes it is best to let them express their anger in a healthy way, like through writing or art. Other times, it may be best to seek professional help if the anger seems to not be naturally subsiding or is impacting their day-to-day life.
While going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for the whole family, remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this process. Seek support from an experienced St. Charles family law attorney if you have any legal questions or need assistance advancing your divorce case.