How Do You Talk to Kids about Divorce?
San Diego, CA – Even though divorce is no longer the taboo subject it used to be, the topic can still come to a shock to those involved. Children of divorce may internalize the separation, blaming themselves for their parents’ decision. Therefore, it is crucial that you and your spouse talk to your children as soon as you decide to split.
Solana Beach Divorce Attorney John Griffith advises, “Every family handles divorce differently, but anytime children are involved, you should be honest and open with them about what’s going on.”
Here are some more tips from the Escondido child support lawyer:
- Talk with your spouse first. It’s best to have a unified message to tell your children. Don’t let blame and resentment seep into your speech, and agree what you will and won’t divulge.
- Tell all of your children at the same time. If at all possible, both of you should make the announcement to everyone at once. “It’s common for parents to tell only the older child, trying to spare the younger child’s feelings by not telling him,” says Griffith. “However, this can be detrimental to both children, putting the burden of a family secret on the older and preventing the younger from learning the truth in a timely manner.”
- Think carefully about where and when you will tell your children. It’s likely that this moment will be a lasting one in your children’s memories, so make it as peaceful as possible. A quiet, private environment helps, and it’s best if all other stressors can be removed.
- Be ready for any possible reaction your children may have. Depending on age and temperament, anything from silence to a full-out tantrum may be expected. The children may be in shock about the news or may have already seen it coming. There isn’t a “right’” or “wrong” way for children to react, so your role is to be prepared and supportive.
- Emphasize that you love your children and that you’re still a family. “Even though the family unit itself is undergoing a drastic change, your kids are still your kids,” Griffith explains. “To help avoid your children feeling any guilt or responsibility for the divorce, tell them why you and your spouse are ending the relationship. And always reiterate that your love towards your children will never stop.”
- Be ready to answer your children’s questions. Even if there are no immediate queries, there will likely be some that develop in the future. These are some common questions children ask during their parents’ divorce:
o Will I have to move?
o Will I need to change schools? Will I have two different schools?
o How will we afford everything?
o How often will I see each of you?
o Will you two ever get back together?
o Is this my fault? Can I fix it so that you don’t break up?
- Prepare for the aftermath. Telling your children about the divorce is just the beginning of what will probably be a long process. Be sure to take care of yourself and your kids by finding good ways to deal with stressors. Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional or a friend or other family member to help you cope with the situation. Whenever possible, get enough sleep, make sure you and your children are eating healthily, and be honest and open throughout the divorce.
“With proper preparation, you and your children can reduce the stress of this time,” Griffith concludes. “It won’t be easy, but at least there are steps you can take to ease some of the difficulty.”
If you’re in the San Diego area and dealing with divorce, schedule a free consultation with John Griffith or one of his outstanding team members at Griffith, Young, and Lass.
About us: Our knowledgeable family law firm takes pride in our wealth of experience and professionalism. When you meet with us, we can connect you to all the resources you need to successfully resolve your divorce case.
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