Are your kids the most important thing to you? If so, then you’re probably worried about how breaking the news of divorce will affect them. It’s a legitimate concern because children thrive in stable and secure and environments, and a divorce threatens the very foundation of those characteristics. Additionally, many children have misperceptions of their parents’ marriage, which can make it hard for them to accept what the marriage was actually like and the fact that they were wrong about such an integral part of their lives.
Being nervous about breaking the news of divorce to your children is completely normal. But there are steps that you can take to help minimize the impact such news has on your children. Here are some things you can to do help your children cope and, ultimately, accept that you and your spouse are getting a divorce.
Don’t shift or take the blame
You and your children’s other parent are still going to have to work together to parent your kids. By blaming the other parent for the divorce, you simply make co-parenting more difficult moving forward. Also, either shouldering the blame for divorce or shifting that blame to your spouse can create toxic relationships with your children. They can hold the breakdown of a marriage against a parent for years to come. You want to avoid that at all costs. So, let your children know that it’s a mutual decision and don’t dive into the details of your marriage issues. Finally, whatever you do, don’t let your children accept any of the blame.
Focus on the things that won’t change
Divorce brings a whole bunch of change to your children’s lives. Their home is disrupted, and they may even have to shuffle between place to place for joint physical custody situations. This can all be extremely stressful for a child. Stress that they may or may not blame on you and your spouse. To reduce the risk of this, explain to your kids the things that one change. That probably includes their parents’ love for them, any school activities, and even holiday traditions.
Expect and accept a wide range of emotions
Your children are going to be sad, angry, frustrated, and confused. All of these emotions are normal. You shouldn’t make your children feel bad for feeling a certain way. Instead, you should reassure them that it’s normal to feel the way that they’re feeling. You can also let them know that you’re there for them emotionally, and that you are available to answer any questions they might have, even if they don’t come until much later.
Be prepared and honest
You really shouldn’t try to wing this conversation with your children. Doing so can lead to poor word choice that can affect your children for some time to come. In an ideal world, you’d sit down with your spouse and come up with a plan to break the news of divorce to your children in a unified fashion. Don’t lie to your children, which can be difficult when they ask tough questions that get at the details of your marital problems. You can do this by talking in generalities that encourage open dialogue but don’t present blame in anyway that is harmful to the children or their relationship with their parents.
There’s actually a lot that you can do to help mitigate the news of divorce on your children. That doesn’t make having the conversation any easier, of course, but it’s a good first step to take as you embark down the road to divorce. To ensure that you have the guidance and advocacy you need throughout that endeavor, consider discussing your situation with an experienced family law firm.