Getting a divorce is complicated. When children are involved, you have to deal with not just your own emotions, but also those of these young adults in the family.
Most parents dread telling their kids about the forthcoming marital split as they are unsure about how their youngsters will react. Many of them feel guilty for the ensuing upheaval in their kids’ lives.
Despite the apprehension and guilt, your children should be given age-appropriate information about the imminent divorce and the changes that will follow.
It is true that children do not take kindly to hearing about their families parting ways; yet, preparing yourself for this tough conversation can help you articulate your thoughts and reassure your kids that they will be loved and cared for by both parents.
Here are five valuable tips to help you get through this difficult conversation.
1) Be Honest
Without a doubt, your kids will be heartbroken once they learn about the family split. However, being honest and keeping the conversation centered on simple facts can help your kids get the much-needed clarity.
Do not attempt to soften the blow by avoiding the words, ‘divorce’ or ‘separation’ or offering them an alternate explanation like, ‘Mom/dad is off for a few months as his/her office has relocated to another city.’
Don’t give them the details of your split. Talk to your soon-to-be ex-spouse and agree on a mutual story of your divorce that shares the facts and the plans you have for them.
Children are interested in knowing about how the parental split will affect their lives. They need to know what will stay the same or change. Consider the following questions to offer clarity to your kids.
? Which parent will leave the house and who will stay?
? Will they have to leave the house? Where will they go?
? Will their school change?
? How often will they see the other parent?
? Will both parents be present on festivals and important occasions such as birthday celebrations or soccer games?
Kids are naïve and trust their parents for making decisions in their best interests. Work with your future ex-partner to keep the discussions focused on your kids’ well-being, assuring them that both parents will always love them.
2) Watch Your Tone and Words
Seeing their family split is a traumatizing experience for kids. This is the time to keep your anger, allegations, and bitterness aside and maintain a calm and assertive tone.
Furthermore, during your conversation, make sure you use the right words. You and your soon-to-be ex-partner should reiterate the following messages when talking to kids.
? “Mom/dad and I have tried to make things work, but we are unable to get along.”
? “Mom/dad and I don’t love each other anymore, but this happens only in grown-ups. Parents never stop loving their kids. We will always love you.”
? “This is a grown-up decision and has nothing to do with you.”
? “Mom and dad will always love you and be around for you.”
The words you choose can heal or harm your kids’ sentiments. Therefore, you and your future ex-partner should focus on conveying unified care and concern for your kids, enabling them to adjust to this disturbing episode in their lives.
3) Be Open to Reactions
When telling your kids that you are calling time on your marital relationship, be prepared for any kind of reaction. It is perfectly normal for them to feel sad, frightened, confused, insecure, or even relieved after hearing the news. Most kids go quiet because they are still processing the information and assessing its impact on their lives.
Regardless of their reaction, you should be patient and tell them that they will always be loved and care for.
Listen to their grievances and questions, and answer them in a simple and open manner.
4) Cut out the Negativity
Emotions are running high during this period. You may be mad at your spouse for various reasons, but don’t let the negative emotions impact your kids’ way of thinking.
It is wise to maintain your composure and stay optimistic about the future. Pointing fingers or bad-mouthing the other parent will weaken your relationship with the kids and lead them to feel pessimistic about their family.
For instance, if the other parent has missed coming to the children’s annual function, don’t use the opportunity to paint a black picture of him/her. This will undermine your kids’ belief in their family, increasing their sense of insecurity.
Instead, say, “I know you are feeling low that mom/dad was unable to come today. However, he/she loves you and will make it up to you soon.”
Furthermore, avoid asking your kids to choose between their parents. This can put them in an awkward position and hamper their emotional well-being. Focus on what’s best for your kids and make it easy for them to receive love from both their parents.
5) Seek Professional Advice
When faced with stressful or disturbing situations, children display a variety of negative reactions such as anger, irritability, or even go into a shell.
Though you may be trying your best, the process of talking to kids during this tense period can be quite hard on your emotional health as well. Give yourself a break by getting professional help.
Involve a neutral person, namely their school teacher, sports coach, or a certified counselor who can encourage them to express their feelings freely.
If you feel your kids will benefit from it, ask your divorce attorney to put in a petition to the court to mandate psychotherapy for them.
For instance, Geneva divorce lawyers are aware that Illinois family courts can order counseling for kids when parents struggle to agree on post-separation arrangements or cope with their kids’ reactions.
Talking to kids about an upcoming divorce can be stressful for parents. However, preparing for this conversation in advance can go a long way in reassuring kids of their parents’ love and concern, thus making them feel secure.
The information shared in this post will help you have an open conversation with your kids, thereby enabling them to re-adjust to life after the parental breakup.
Jenna Adams is a certified divorce coach by profession. She is associated with Peskind Law Firm, a divorce law agency offering family and divorce law services to the folks of Illinois. She specializes in everything when things come to divorce and beyond that. She helps people with setting up post-divorce goals to bring about improvements in their overall life.