No one wants to talk about divorce. But, if you have children, you need to work through the discomfort and explain to them, in terms they can understand, what is going on. Children need to talk about it, they need to appreciate the situation, and they need to be reassured that things will be alright.
Below are tips for how to talk to your children about the divorce and support them in coping with the change.
How and When to Discuss the Divorce
Talk to the kids in a quiet space where there are no immediate plans to do something else. A weekend might be best. If you are able, talk to them as a couple and convey to them caring and concern.
It is possible that you might get choked up or cry. Simply acknowledge that it is a sad event for the family. If one of you starts to get angry or say upsetting things, rescue the situation by acknowledging Mom/Dad is really upset, though not due to anything on the part of the children. Take a break and be forgiving. It is important to set a tone of safety and reassurance.
If you will be living apart, let the children know the timeframe for the move and how parenting obligations will be shared, two to three weeks before the separation happens. If you are living together, you may still be changing routines and acting more like two separate people, instead of a couple.
Rather than pretend nothing is going on – decide together how you will be changing any routines, like if one parent will be sleeping in the guest bedroom. Then notify the children shortly before the changes take place.
What to Say
A few points should be made and repeated with the children:
- The children did not cause the breakup.
- You have each tried but are unable to work things out.
- The children are free to love each parent fully. They do not have to be afraid of betraying or being disloyal to one parent for maintaining their connection with the other.
- Feeling sad, angry, worried, and curious about the future is normal. Reassure the children that they are welcome to express their feelings about the divorce.
- You are still a family – you are just changing as a family.
Keep the conversation simplistic for elementary school-aged children and younger. Older children usually want to know more and will ask more questions.
Regardless of their age, do not share so much that they become embroiled in your divorce. They should not be put in a position where they are expected to take sides or spy for a parent.
Follow up with a second conversation. A few days later, share further details of the plan. Explain what will change and what will remain the same. Ask if they have any questions and be as positive as possible when answering.
Continue to reassure them that you are doing your best and that things will work out. Be available if they want and need to talk about it.
Experienced Media Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Serve Clients Throughout the Philadelphia Area
If you are going through a divorce, it is critical to have a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to represent your interests. At Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. our Media divorce lawyers have skillfully and effectively represented clients going through divorce. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 610-565-3701 or complete our online form. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.