The process of divorce is difficult for everyone involved, especially children. Telling your kids that you’re getting a divorce isn’t easy, but there are several things you can do to minimize confusion and make the news less overwhelming.
Take Time to Plan
You and your partner’s decision to divorce doesn’t happen overnight – but once the decision is final, it’s important not to tell your children immediately. This allows time for you to calm your emotions and also prepare a plan for how you’ll tell your kids. Waiting at least a day or two also gives you time to put together a plan for talking with your children and finding a good time to do it.
You shouldn’t tell your children the news when they’re sad, tired or otherwise upset, and you shouldn’t do it at an especially happy moment, especially during a holiday. Depending on the age of your kids, the way you explain the divorce may be different, so do some research on how best to tell them. You may explain what a divorce is or simply tell your young child that Mommy and Daddy won’t live together anymore.
Do It All Together
No person should have to carry this burden alone. No matter whose fault it is, the news of divorce should come from both parents – you’re in this together.
Similarly, it’s crucial that you tell all of your children at the same time. While it can be tempting to tell older children first and save the young ones from the stress a little longer, this can do more harm than good. Gathering the entire family will allow your children to be a support system for each other.
Explain What Happens Next
When you tell kids about divorce, the first question they typically have is, “What happens now?” Be prepared to answer these questions as best you can. “We don’t know” isn’t an option. Questions you should be ready for include:
- Will we still get to see both of you?
- Where will we live?
- Why is this happening?
- Are you going to court?
Keep in mind that smaller children may ask questions more in line with their developmental stage, such as, “Where will the cat live?” Be patient, and answer all of their questions.
Make the Important Choices for Them
When it comes to making decisions surrounding the divorce process, allowing your children to make important decisions about which parent to live with and how often they want to see the other parent causes too much stress. While you may decide that your teenagers are mature enough for this kind of input, making important choices for smaller children adds structure to the uncertainty of divorce.
Be Prepared For Reactions
Every person reacts differently to the news of divorce, so be prepared to deal with a range of reactions. Kids may cry, pretend the divorce isn’t happening, refuse to listen, change the subject, show no emotion at all or a combination of these. As parents, you and your partner must be there for your kids and support them as they process the news.
No matter how you go about it, telling your kids about divorce will be difficult. That’s why the divorce lawyers at Bineham & Gillen will be advocates for you and your family and support you in whatever way we can.
Contact us today, and let us help you find the best solution for your family.