Because divorce is so prevalent in the U.S., there is no shortage of research studies that have been done on the effects of divorce on children. Many experts agree that helping children to cope well begins with how they are told about the divorce. Unless domestic violence is an issue, it is usually recommended that parents tell the children together in a family setting. This helps children understand that even though the living arrangements are changing, the love and security will always be there.
It is also important for children to understand that the divorce is not their fault in any way, and that even though some things will change, their parents’ love and care for them will never change. This message should continue to be reinforced throughout the divorce process.
When talking with your children about divorce, it is important to be direct and keep things as simple as possible. Licensed clinical psychologist Edward D. Farber told HuffPost that, “Your child needs to know only one truth: ‘Mom and Dad don’t love each other anymore the way that moms and dads need to love each other to stay together.’ Your child has absolutely no need to know the reasons Mom and Dad don’t love each other.”
The one thing you should be as specific as possible with your children about is how the divorce will change their daily routine. Explain what your family’s “new normal” will look like in terms of their home, room, and how you plan to arrange visitation. Let them know how you and your ex plan to co-parent, including the fact that both of you will continue to support them in their school and other activities. Reassure them that their well-being is the most important thing to both parents.
While you may feel the need to apologize to your children, resist this impulse as it gives them the idea that you have done something wrong. Instead, show empathy by telling them you understand that the divorce is painful for them and you will always be there to help them deal with the pain in any way you can.
Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult for some divorcing couples, resist any temptation to blame each other for the divorce. While bad mouthing your ex may feel good to you, it only hurts your children. They need to feel completely free to love each parent fully without being made to feel that doing so is disloyal to the other parent.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.