How can I tell my kids about a divorce?
Children of different ages will respond differently to a parental divorce. Understanding how to talk to them at each stage of life is important.
Making the choice to get a divorce can be very painful and is rarely easy for Connecticut residents. Once that decision has been made, however, the challenges are far from over. Breaking the news to one’s children can be as hard or even harder for some parents.
How can parents best tell their children about a divorce? If there are multiple children in a family, should they be told individually or together? What concerns will children have? These are just some of the questions that moms and dads are likely to have at these times.
Starting the conversation
When the time comes to initially tell children that their parents are divorcing, it should be thought of as just the beginning of a much longer conversation. Psychology Today explains that this discussion should not go into too much detail as that can happen as the process unfolds. This is due in part to the fact that many details are as yet unknown at this point in a divorce.
It is also wise to keep an initial discussion at a higher level to be able to speak to children of all different ages. This should be a full family meeting where all children are told the news at the same time. Individual conversations can and should happen later on.
Keeping the conversation going
Parents should expect different reactions from different children. Some of this will be due to their ages. For example, Today’s Parent notes that younger children are more apt to be concerned or ask about their immediate daily lives. Where will they sleep? Who will take them to school or daycare? Their world is a very concrete one in which they have little to no ability to articulate their feelings. Parents should focus on creating stability and ensuring children feel secure and loved.
As children get older and are able to talk about their feelings, parents can encourage this. However, they may need to be crafty about how they get their children to open up. A direct question can often shut children down. Referencing a book or someone else’s situation can sometimes produce a more forthcoming dialogue that still gives a window into children’s thoughts and feelings.
Focus on relationships
Regardless of what the custody or parenting time arrangements end up being, the Huffington Post reiterates the importance of strong parent-child bonds. Avoiding limits on communication between parents and children is one way of helping to facilitate this.
Getting help from the start
Tending to the emotional needs of children during a divorce can be a big job for parents. When Connecticut parents work with experienced attorneys to help with other issues, they can be more available for their children.