If you and your spouse are considering ending your marriage and you have children together, you probably have many concerns. Coming to terms with the marriage ending is already difficult, but adding the stress of how the divorce will affect your children can make things seem impossible. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information from child development experts and mental health specialists about how best to break the news of divorce to children.
Keep the Children’s Ages in Mind
The information you will give a five-year-old child about your divorce and what you will tell a fifteen-year-old should be different. Young children are not going to understand terms like “custody” or “separation.” Instead of getting into the details, experts suggest parents tell young children how the divorce will affect them and focus on reassuring the child. For example, parents can say something like, “Mommy and daddy are not going to live together anymore but you will still see both of us all the time.” Make sure to reassure the child that the divorce is not their fault and that you as parents still love the child and will continue to be their parents.
Rhonda Freeman of Toronto’s Family Services Association explains that sometimes children think they can influence the separation. They need to know that it is a decision which did not happen because of them. She says, “Children who think that they might be able to bring their parents back together, or that they somehow contributed to the divorce, will have trouble getting on with the healing process. So, they need to understand that those are adult decisions which they didn’t cause and can’t influence.”
Be Intentional About the Timing
Experts encourage parents to tell their children they are getting divorced together. While this is not always possible, both parents being present during the conversation shows a united front can help calm children’s initial fears about losing a parent. Parents should set a time to talk to the children which will not be interrupted. Plan for the children to have questions or need the information repeated. Children will react differently based on their age and personality. It is possible that your child or children will not be ready to immediately share their feelings about the news. Try to keep other routines consistent and make sure you are available for your children to come to you with questions and concerns in the future.
Call Us for Help
If you have questions about divorcing with children, an experienced Kane County family law attorney can provide the direction you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free, confidential consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.