One of the trickiest parts of navigating a divorce is making decisions about the children involved. While both partners usually try to do everything possible to make the transition easy, it can be initially difficult to know how to talk to children about the situation. Here are some tips on how you can use your discussion to help your child through this time.
See things from your child’s point of view
You may see your divorce as freeing, but your child most likely will not understand your feelings. Psychology Today points out that the change can seem confusing and painful, especially if a child will not see one parent as often anymore. Try not to push these feelings aside, but instead, make sure your child knows she or he can talk to you and that you will listen and respond compassionately.
Understand the significance
It may be tempting to downplay the event and make it light in hopes that your child will be okay with the situation, but this discussion will likely be one of the most permanent memories in your child’s mind. Plan the setting and timing of your discussion carefully, being sure to avoid stressful times and places. Also, be careful not to exclude certain children, since secretive behavior may lead a child to feel like it is something wrong that she or he needs to hide.
While you may not feel the divorce is your fault, try not to be surprised when your child places some of the blame on you. Anger and resentment are normal emotions for children to feel in this situation, so be prepared. Both parents need to be mature and offer children unconditional love and respect on this rocky road.
Point out positives
HealthyChildren.org emphasizes the importance of keeping your message clear and positive. There is usually no need to tell children negative things about the situation; instead, focus on the positive aspects, like these:
• Children will now have two homes to play in and spend time.
• Both partners will be much happier and able to be nicer parents.
• There will now be two places to feel their parents’ love.
• This solution will fix some problems.
• Both parents will still be involved in the child’s life.
It is especially important to make sure children understand they are not the reason for the divorce and that both parents will love them just as much as they always have.
Once you have made the decision to divorce, contact a compassionate attorney for guidance through the process. The wisdom and experience of an expert can make the transition easier on you as well as your entire family.