How to Tell Your Children You are Divorcing
Divorce can be traumatic for children. Not long ago, very few parents divorced when their children were young, fearing that they would forever wound their children emotionally. As subsequent experience has shown, children are resilient individuals who can adjust to changed circumstances, including divorce. Nevertheless, parents should approach the issue in the right way.
Gather all Children
Some parents tell only their eldest children, hoping to shelter the youngest. However, child psychologists have pointed out that this approach places a burden on your oldest children to keep a secret. Also, you are sending a message to younger children that they can not handle the truth.
Instead, find a time and place when all your children can be together. Also choose a time and place where you know that you will not be interrupted. It does no good to break the news right before your child heads off to a big baseball game or to school, so choose a day when nothing is planned.
Avoid Blaming Each Other
Parents should present a united message to their children and not try to shift blame for the divorce onto one or the other parent. This can be very difficult for parents who are also dealing with intense emotions about the divorce. Nevertheless, parents must be the adults in the situation and take responsibility.
One strategy for parents is to meet with a therapist to begin working through their own emotions before telling their children. Once a parent gains some perspective on the impending divorce, they will be better able to accept responsibility for the breakup.
Avoid Blaming the Children
Some children will fear that they are to blame for the divorce. Always remind them that they are not responsible and that you love them. Also tell them that the divorce is not for them to fix but is instead something the parents will work on together. Your children might need constant reinforcement that they are not to blame, which you should be prepared for.
Answer Your Children’s Questions
One reason some parents try to drop the news casually to their children is that they want to avoid any painful conversation or difficult questions. Remember, however, that your children are entitled to respond any way that they wish. They are not the ones responsible for the divorce, but their lives are getting upended just the same.
Young children will be interested in knowing how their lives will change, so give some thought about child custody issues before telling them. Children might be afraid that they will have to change schools and move away from all of their friends. Do not promise the children they will not move unless you are 100% certain.
Child psychologists recommend that you answer questions honestly—within reason. You do not need to go into details about one partner’s infidelity, but you can emphasize that you have grown apart as a couple and will be happier when you no longer living together.
Contact a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer with Questions
Divorce presents many emotional, financial, and legal complications. If you see divorce on the horizon, you would benefit from an experienced divorce attorney in your corner. Elena K. Weitz, attorney at law, has represented men and women in divorce proceedings for over a decade. Please contact her today to schedule a consultation.