Having a Difficult Conversation
Divorce is a difficult topic for any family to discuss, but it can be especially tough when children are involved. Many parents have a challenging time determining how to tell their children about the divorce. It is completely natural to have concerns about how your child may react to hearing this news. In this blog, we’ve provided some helpful tips on how to tell your children about divorce in a way that is both sensitive and respectful.
Talk to Your Child Together
It’s no secret that all relationships and family units operate differently. If safe for you and your family, you and your spouse should sit down with your child(ren) together to inform them of the divorce. This way, both you and your spouse can be there to answer any of your child’s questions, address their concerns, and comfort them. It's important that your child hears the news from both of you at the same time so that they don't feel like they are being left out or kept in the dark. Additionally, this conference will require cooperation and communication among the parents. Despite being an unpleasant interaction, telling children together can be reassuring and show your child that they are still important and loved by both of you.
Be Sensitive to Your Child's Age and Emotional Development
When you tell your child about the divorce, be sure to take their age and emotional development into account. A young child may not understand what is happening, while an older child may have more questions. Choose a time to talk when both you and your spouse are calm and can give your child the time and attention they need.
Plan Where and When You Will Hold the Conversation
It is best to have this conversation in a place where your child feels comfortable, such as your home. You should also plan for how long you believe the conversation may last and what topics you will cover. You and your spouse may decide to tell your child about the divorce in one sitting or over a period of time. It may also be wise to take into consideration the other activities scheduled for the child surrounding this conversation, as your child may not desire to be in a large group or social event immediately after learning this news.
Explain What is Happening in Simple Terms
When you tell your child about the divorce, be sure to use simple terms that they will understand. You don't need to go into expansive detail about what led to the decision or what factors may or may not be to blame. Instead, you can simply explain that you and their other parent have decided to divorce and provide reassurance to your child that it is not their fault.
Be Prepared to Answer Your Child’s Difficult Questions
Your child is likely to have many questions about the divorce such as why you are getting divorced, what will happen to them, and how often they will see either parent. It is important that you be prepared to answer these questions honestly and without judgment, while still keeping in mind what is appropriate for a child or their age and maturity level. If able, it may be beneficial for you and your spouse to anticipate questions in advance of the conversation and prepare appropriate answers that you both feel comfortable providing.
Reassure Your Child That They Are Not to Blame
Unfortunately, despite all of your reassurance, your child may still blame themselves for the divorce. They may think that their actions could have led to you and your spouse divorcing. Continued reassurance to your child may provide additional comfort and allow them to grasp that the divorce is truly not their fault.
Truly Listen to Their Concerns
After you have explained the situation to your child, you should always listen to their concerns so that they feel understood and know their opinions have been heard. It will also give you an opportunity to address any misconceptions they may have about the divorce.
Give Your Child Time to Adjust
The news of a divorce can be very upsetting for a child. It is important to give them time to adjust to this new information and to allow your child to express how they are feeling. Children can benefit from parental reassurance as it relates to their safety and security, in addition to validation by parents of the wide array of emotions they may be experiencing.
Divorce can be a difficult topic to discuss in general, but even more so when children are involved. However, by preparing for these conversations and using these tips to be respectful and sensitive to your child’s needs, you can help the conversation transpire naturally and smoothly.
Work with a Divorce Attorney
If you are considering terminating your marriage or are already going through the process, we suggest seeking out professional help. At Laubacher & Co., we can help you navigate the complexity of divorce and come out better on the other side.
Learn more about how we can help or schedule a consultation by calling (440) 336-8687 or by visiting our website.