Breaking The News: How To Talk To Your Kids About Divorce
When families face the tough decision of divorce, the impact on parents and children can be challenging. It’s during these times that open conversations become more important than ever. Explaining the situation to kids might seem daunting, but finding the right words and a gentle approach can make a world of difference.
By creating a safe space for them to ask questions and express their feelings, you can help your kids better cope with the changes ahead. In this post, our family law experts share their top strategies, drawing from professional knowledge and real-life experiences, to guide you in offering the reassurance your children need during this emotionally-charged process.
Prepare for the Conversation
Before discussing the separation or divorce with your children, take some time to reflect on how to present the information in a way that is simple and clear. Consider their age and maturity levels when selecting the appropriate words; younger ones might benefit from simpler, reassuring language, while older children may seek a more in-depth understanding of the situation.
Just be honest with your kids without diving into unnecessary or inappropriate details. For example, instead of explaining the specifics of a disagreement and focusing on personal shortcomings, you might simply say that you and your partner have grown apart or are unable to resolve your differences.
Remember that this conversation will leave a lasting impression on your children, so choose the right time and place for this discussion. Select a moment when you can give them your undivided attention and a location where they feel safe, secure, and comfortable, like their favorite spot at home or a quiet park. Allow them the opportunity to process the information, ask questions, and express their emotions without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
Throughout the conversation, stay empathetic and supportive, emphasizing that your love for them remains constant and that both parents will continue to be there for them, even if living arrangements change.
Follow a United Parental Approach
It’s important to show your kids that both you and your spouse are still a team when it comes to parenting, even though you’re going through a separation or divorce. This helps your children feel more secure and reassured during this difficult time. To do this, try to have the conversation together, if possible, and maintain a calm and caring tone.
If you find it hard to agree on what to say or how to say it, think about asking for help from a professional, like a mediator, therapist, or counselor. These experts can provide guidance and help you work out the best way to explain the situation to your kids.
For instance, instead of blaming one another or focusing on the negative aspects, you might say something like, “We both love you very much, and we will always be your parents, but we have decided that it’s best for us to live apart.” This shows your kids that you’re still a team, even if you’re no longer living together as a couple.
Encourage Emotional Expression
Give your children the space to express their emotions openly during and after the conversation. They might experience a range of feelings, such as sadness, anger, confusion, or even relief. Let them know that it’s completely normal and okay to feel this way.
If your young child starts to cry during the conversation, you can gently say, “It’s okay to feel sad about this. Mom and dad are sad too. It’s normal to have these feelings, and it’s good to let them out.”
Similarly, if they become angry, acknowledge their emotions by saying something like, “I understand that you’re upset right now. This is a big change, and it’s natural to feel angry. We are here to help you through this, and we will figure it out together.”
The key is to be patient as the children process the news. They might not be ready to talk about their feelings right away, and that’s okay too. Let them know that you are always available for a conversation when they are ready to share their thoughts.
Welcome Questions and Provide Honest Responses
Invite your children to ask questions about the divorce, and answer them sincerely. This helps them feel valued during the process. Be open and honest when answering their questions, using simple language that they can understand. If the child asks whether they will continue seeing both of you, you could reply that yes, both of their parents will continue spending time with them and that you’re working on creating a schedule to make sure each parent gets quality time with the child.
If you’re unsure about the answer to a question, be honest about that too, and assure them that you’ll find out the information and share it with them as soon as you can. For instance, if your child asks, “Where will we live?”, and you haven’t figured that out yet, you could say, “We’re still working on the details, but as soon as we know, we will make sure to tell you.”
When addressing your children’s concerns, focus on their needs and emotions, rather than involving them in the legal aspects of the divorce. This helps them feel protected from any additional stress.
Seek Professional Support
If your kids seem to be having a tough time handling the divorce, it might be a good idea to get some extra help. There are therapists or counselors who know how to work with kids – and parents – during a divorce. They can provide emotional support as well as a safe space for your children to share their feelings and learn new ways to cope. By talking to an expert, your children can better understand how to process all the overwhelming emotions in a healthy way.
Keep Conflict Away From the Children
Make sure your kids don’t see or hear any fights between you and your spouse. I3f you need to discuss a sensitive topic like finances or living arrangements, wait until your children are at school or having a play date at a friend’s house. Kids can feel really upset and scared when they see their parents arguing, so choose the right time and place for these conversations. This will help show your children that you are aware of their feelings and trying to maintain a sense of stability for them.
Trust Our Compassionate Family Law Attorneys in Orange County to Prioritize Your Children's Needs
As parents ourselves, we at Werno Family Law Solutions understand the difficulties of telling your children about something as life-altering as a divorce. No family should have to face this challenging journey alone, which is why our skilled attorneys are here to support you every step of the way.
We can help you create a parenting plan that prioritizes your children’s well-being and promotes a positive co-parenting environment. We also offer referrals to trusted counselors and other professionals who can support your family through the transition. Don’t let the stress of divorce overwhelm you. To schedule free consultation with our Orange County, CA divorce attorneys, give us a call at 714-942-5932 or send us a message online.