Breaking the news of a divorce to children is one of the most difficult and excruciating aspects of ending a marriage. Most children don’t have the emotional foundation or context yet to truly grasp what is happening. They are likely to have dozens of questions and feel like their world is crashing down.
These are some steps you can take to be as successful as possible in telling your children well and help them start normalizing to the new chapter of life:
Tell them together – It is important that you and your spouse sit down together with the children to discuss the divorce. Your children may have an idea this conversation is coming, or it might catch them off-guard. By telling them together, however, you are signaling that they will still have both parents. The family arrangement may change, but they can continue to spend time with both parents.
Repeatedly reinforce that this is not their fault – Children tend to feel guilt about divorce, even though it has nothing to do with them. Continue to keep those fears at bay and make sure they know that both of you love them as much as ever.
Be prepared to explain the new parenting plan and set-up – While you may not have all the details ironed out on custody and visitation, go into the conversation with a clear explanation of generally how much time they will spend with both parents and how their living arrangement will look moving forward.
Answer questions – Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Understand what is important to them and what scares them about this new change. Answer every question they have as best you can. If they shut down and won’t ask questions, make it very clear that you will drop everything and talk with them as soon as they are ready to talk about the situation.
Start building new routines – Even before the divorce is finalized (and custody issues are settled), start to develop a new normal for your family. You want to reinforce that things will be ok and they will continue to have a normal life with health relationships with both of their parents.
As you face the difficult challenges of custody and divorce, work with a firm you know has the experience to handle all legal matters and the understanding that can provide solutions for the personal side of divorce. Worsham Law Firm is prepared to represent your interests and protect your future and the relationship you have with your children