How to Talk Divorce with your Children

When going through a divorce, it is important not to get wrapped up in your own stresses and emotions and forget the needs of your children.  Children can be greatly affected by the stresses and worries of a divorce, and they need to be treated with care.  One very important step is knowing how to approach breaking the news to your children about your divorce.

Once your decision to get a divorce is finalized, don’t put off telling your kids the big news.  Try to have both parents present, if it’s possible.  When talking to them, don’t include any feelings of anger, guilt, or blame.  In many cases, it is helpful for parents to practice what they’re going to say to the children so that they do not become upset or emotional during the real thing.

Each conversation will be modified based on the child’s age and maturity, but in general, it should be made clear that what is happening is not the child's fault.  It is solely between mom and dad.  Many children of divorce experience strong feelings of guilt for the break-up, even when there’s no reason for it.  Because of this, it is important that you reassure them often that they are not to blame.

When talking to your kids, tell them that sometimes adults just change the way they love each other and don’t always agree on things.  Remind them, though, that parents and children are tied together for life, even though they may not always agree on things too.  Assure them that parents and their kids never stop loving each other or get divorced.

As far as giving the kids information about the situation, give them enough to prepare them for the changes that will be taking place in their lives.  Try to be as truthful as possible.  At the same time, however, children do not need to be burdened with all the reasons for and details of a divorce.  They should only know what will change in their routines as well as what will stay the same.

When it comes to younger children, simplicity is the best route.  For example, you could say: “Mom and dad are going to live in different houses so they don’t fight so much, but we both love you very much.”

Teenagers and older children, on the other hand, will have been paying a little better attention and have probably noticed the issues in the home.  It’s likely that they’ll have a lot of questions about things they’ve overheard during conversations and fights.

This big talk will set the tone for your relationship with your children during the divorce, so be sure to handle it with care.  If you have any questions about how to handle your child’s needs during your actual divorce process, don’t be afraid to contact a dedicated Illinois divorce lawyer.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/Freedigitalphotos

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