One of the things parents dread most about divorce is breaking the news to their children. You are naturally concerned about managing the emotional impact this will have on them, and the best way to do this is to come to the conversation fully prepared. The following tips can help you prepare for this difficult conversation:
Be honest and age-appropriate.
You must take into consideration your child’s age and development level when talking to them about divorce, and you should be honest — within limits. Your children do not need to know adult information (like affairs or financial matters); you can simply tell them you have “adult problems.” Reassure them that this is between you and your spouse, that they did not cause these problems and there was nothing they could have done because it is just between the adults. Let them know repeatedly that you both love them and that will never change.
Don’t disparage each other.
Once you have said something hurtful about the other parent, you can’t take it back, and it only causes more pain to your children. If you’re divorcing because one of you strayed, you may want your children to know who is to blame. But this is too much for your child to process, and will damage relationships. Children fare better in divorce when they have a good relationship with both parents, so don’t make that more difficult just because you’re angry.
Be prepared to answer these FAQs.
There are common questions children ask when they are being told about their parents’ divorce. You should be prepared to answer the following:
Why are you getting a divorce? Keeping in mind your child’s age, point to situations they may have noticed: “Dad and I fight a lot and it’s not a healthy way to live.” Do not get into the specific reasons why you fight; just say they are adult problems.
Is the divorce my fault? While the question may not be phrased exactly like this, most kids want to believe they have the power to change things between their parents and fear there was something they could have done to prevent the divorce. Be clear and keep telling them that the divorce is not their fault and is not anything they caused or could have fixed.
What happens now? Children worry a lot about the impact a divorce will have on their lives. Will they live in the same house? Go to the same school? See their friends? Be as specific as you can with your answers, and if you don’t know yet, be honest and tell them they will know as soon as you do. It’s important not to promise things you can’t guarantee.
At Cistaro Law, we are not only concerned with your divorce today, but also with your quality of life long after your case is over. Your family law issues deserve to be managed with dignity and respect. You can prepare to civilly resolve your divorce, heal, and move on with your life with a legal team that has helped individuals all over New Jersey to heal and prosper. Contact us today for your free consultation.