How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

Divorce is a challenging period for the entire family. If you’re a parent and getting divorced, you should contact a seasoned White Plains, New York divorce attorney for professional advice on the best way forward.

Most couples often overlook talking with their children when getting divorced. However, there will be varying reactions from family members as they adjust to the new family dynamic. Younger children may not understand what is happening, while older teens may become angry or withdraw emotionally.

Keep reading to learn valuable strategies for this difficult conversation with your children.

Tips for Talking With the Children Before Divorce

There is no “one size fits all” approach to helping your children cope with this challenging period because every family and child is unique. However, here are some valuable tips to help parents make things easier for everyone involved.

Try to Reassure Them that the Situation Isn’t Their Fault

What most kids know about marriage comes from examples set by their parents or through media. Everything may seem fine on the surface. But no matter how well you may have managed the stress, the children will always wonder if they played a role in the separation.

This kind of reaction from children is normal. Most kids will reflect and wonder what they may have done differently as part of their innate capacity for empathy. You should reassure your children that this choice has nothing to do with them and that your love for them will remain unwavering whether or not you stay married.

Stay Honest and Avoid Blame

Be free to tell your kids why you and your spouse are splitting up. But refrain from revealing each other’s faults.

Whatever the outcome of these discussions, it is essential that they be based on a shared commitment to kindness and empathy for your children and each other. Know where to draw the line in discussing your spouse throughout a divorce, because doing so can affect your child’s custody decision and emotional well-being.

Have the Conversation Together

Try to have this talk as a family if you can. The parents should prepare what they want to say beforehand so there are no unexpected discussion topics.

Having this conversation as a couple may reassure the kids that the parent-child relationship is more important than any disagreements you may be having.

A dad talking to a little girl about divorce

Explain Upcoming Changes Clearly

A divorce usually leads to significant life changes. It is important to emphasize this point when talking with your children.

Remember to discuss critical issues such as:

  • Is one parent moving out?
  • Will one parent have full custody?
  • To what extent does this interfere with the child’s academic and extracurricular pursuits?

Not only should you tell them what’s changing, but also what won’t. Familiarity with the expected changes will be comforting as the kids adjust to the new circumstances.

Stay Positive About the Future

Make sure you have a group of friends and family members you can count on when things get tough right from the start. You should consider a support system before you officially file for divorce, which will allow you to be there for your kids.

While allowing them to know that you are angry and processing the separation is okay, leaning on your adult support system will allow you to project a hopeful outlook for the future while you are with your children. This will help them get through this moment and set an excellent example for how to handle adversity in the future.

Invite Questions

Children of all ages need support and understanding during a divorce. Let them know you’re available to answer their questions, and if you don’t have a definitive response just yet, that’s okay.

Expect your children to need time to process this information, and be ready to have ongoing dialogues with them.

Plan Fun Activities with the Children

It’s easy to let the season’s stress prevent you from prioritizing quality time with your loved ones. Spending time doing activities the whole family enjoys together can help kids feel more at ease with the shifting family dynamic.

Why You Should Talk to Your Children

How you deal with the divorce will significantly impact how your kids react.

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are frantic during this period, the children will start to freak out. But if you stay calm and explain the dynamics of the divorce to the kids, they will be at ease throughout the complicated process.

Will You Need Professional Help?

Divorce is a huge life event, and if the support of loved ones isn’t enough, you should seek help from a professional. Various professionals can help you through times and provide invaluable insight and guidance for children during divorce.

Individual or family therapy for parents and children can help tackle questions and problems as they arise.

Helping Kids Adapt to Life After a Divorce

Various factors can help kids adjust after a divorce. They include:

  • A close relationship between both parents
  • Maintaining a good parenting capacity
  • Minimal exposure to conflict.

You don’t want kids to worry about conflicts between you and your ex. The following strategies can help:

  • Limit conversations when dropping off or picking up the children. Only talk about the basics, like confirming pickup and drop-off times.
  • Avoid using children to communicate with your ex.
  • Communicate in writing to share relevant information. Some families rely on electronic correspondence with their children, while others prefer a book. Have a trusted third party read your email before sending it if the situation is particularly heated.
  • Respect the other parent’s time with the kids. Have the kids ready for pick up and be on time.
  • Respect your ex’s privacy.

Call a Family Law Attorney in New York

If you are planning to get divorced, talk to a seasoned New York family law attorney for legal advice. At Douglas Family Law Group, our compassionate team will offer crucial insights to help your family through divorce.

Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation.

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