If you’re going to be getting a divorce, you will need to let your children know. This will be a difficult conversation, and one that they may not fully understand or accept right away. The specifics of what you should say or do will vary greatly based on the age of your children and their personalities, but there are a number of different ideas that have been proven to minimize the difficulty they have with this painful experience.
Tell Them When You’re Sure of the Divorce
It can be difficult to know when to tell your children that you are getting a divorce. There is no perfect time, but there are some general guidelines. First, you should not tell them until you are absolutely certain that a divorce is going to happen. Telling them, then changing your mind, can be very confusing and painful. Once you are 100% certain that you will be getting a divorce, break the news to your kids as soon as you can. The last thing you want is for them to simply overhear a conversation or have a friend or loved one mention it around them before you have had this talk.
Keep It Simple
Regardless of the age of your children, it is a good idea to keep your initial message to them very simple and direct. Trying to explain things in too much detail won’t help and may actually lead to confusion. Your initial discussion should start by telling them of the divorce, letting them know that they will have two homes, and most importantly, then they are still loved by both parents! Once you’ve provided this information, your children may have questions or comments, which you can answer in an appropriate way for their age.
Stress That It Isn’t Their Fault
One of the most important things to stress to your children is that the divorce is in no way their fault. This should be a recurring comment both in your initial conversation with them, and regularly as additional talks or questions come up. Kids often place the blame on themselves, and it needs to be stressed that this is absolutely not the case.
Try to Keep It Casual
Most children will respond better to a casual conversation than one where they feel awkward or intimidated by the situation. Consider having the conversation when doing chores around the house, playing a game, or doing some other simple activities that they can do while talking. Of course, this will depend largely on the age of your children.
Remember It Is an Ongoing Conversation
In the vast majority of cases, talking to your children about a divorce isn’t going to be a one-time conversation. They will likely have more and more questions over time. Do your best not to get frustrated about this as it is important to provide them with the information and support that they need. Remember, the divorce is impacting your children as much, or possibly even more, than it is affecting you, so give them the time they need to adjust.
In the end, there is no way to make it so this conversion isn’t painful for your children. The divorce will change virtually every aspect of their life, so give them time and understanding so they can adjust. With lots of patience and love, you and your children can get through this difficult experience together. When in doubt, speak to a family therapist that specializes in children to ensure you’re doing everything possible to help your kids through this process.
When you need help with divorce or any other family law or estate planning matter, the attorneys at Vasquez de Lara Law Group are here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.