Preparing Your Child for Your Divorce
Guidance from an Experienced Lawyer
Talking to your children about divorce may be the most difficult part of ending your marriage. If you've reached the conclusion that divorce is the best option for your future and the future of your family, you may have to deal with the difficult process of preparing your child for divorce. No two children are alike, so each child will react differently to the changes that your family will face. However, the age of your children and other factors can help you be prepared to talk to them.
Telling Your Kids: What to Expect
Generally speaking, children are afraid that they will lose their parents if they divorce. When you tell your children that you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, make sure that they understand that you and your spouse will still spend time with them. Each child must understand this – explain it with your words and show them with your actions. Then, follow through with your promise. If you don't, you children may question you honesty, reliability and affection. However, you can maintain a stable relationship with your children if you continue to spend time with them.
Make a Plan and Stick to It
Ideally, you and your spouse should tell your children about your divorce together. If not, make sure that you and your spouse are in agreement about what will be said to the children. If you explain the divorce in one way and your spouse explains it differently, you children may sense this division and become confused. If you and your spouse plan on talking about the divorce separately with your children, make sure that your stories are straight. If you don't know what to say to your kids, talk to a religious advisor, counselor or schedule a time to speak with a mental health professional. These individual can help you prepare to speak with your children.
Every divorce is different. Although many divorces are relatively peaceful, others may be extremely volatile. If you and your spouse are in disagreement about your divorce, you will probably have separate conversations about it with your children. Try to reach an agreement about what you will say to your children. These conversations can be emotionally charged, frustrating and stressful, but it is important that your children understand that they will not be abandoned once your marriage is officially terminated. Hearing different stories from each parent may confuse your children and will send them conflicting messages about the divorce and the way that it will affect them.
What Not to Do
Even if your divorce is not peaceful, try to put aside any animosity you feel towards your spouse when you talk to your children. Avoid blaming your spouse for the divorce. Before you speak with your children, make sure that you and your spouse both agree to avoid blaming each other for the separation. Even though you will not be married, you children need to understand that you and your spouse can still function as parents. Your children may be afraid that they will lose their family; reassure them that this is not true. They will still have a family but it will be a different.
During the Conversation
When you tell your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce, make sure that you are completely honest and realistic with your children. Young children may not need to know the details behind your marital problems, but they do need to know how your separation will affect their lives. Make sure that each child understands that their lives will be different after the divorce. If you tell them that everything will feel the same, they may have difficulty trusting you in the future. Avoid making promises that you can't realistically keep.
Additionally, try not to become upset or emotional while you talk to your children. Children are easy to frighten; watching a parent become hysterical, angry or upset can make them anxious. Instead, avoid emotion and speak calmly. If you become angry or dramatic during the conversation, your children may become more involved in your emotions and fail to reveal their own feelings.
Also, it is imperative that your children understand that the divorce is not their fault. Verbally tell your children that you and your spouse do not blame them for the separation. If your children do not understand this, they may assume that they caused your divorce and feel unnecessary guilt.
After Talking to Your Children
Your children may have difficulty understanding divorce. If so, you may want to involve a school counselor, social worker, relative or mental health professional. Speaking with a knowledgeable third party can help you children become more comfortable with the idea of the divorce. Additionally, make sure that your child's teachers, parents of close friends and babysitters know about your divorce.
Work with Jason K.S. Porter, P.A.
If you've decided that filing for divorce is the best option for you and your family, talk to a family law attorney from Jason K.S. Porter, PA today. At the firm, we are dedicated to helping families through the tedious legal proceedings during the divorce process. We can help you resolve issues related to child custody, spousal support, and asset division.
Contact us today to see what an attorney from our firm can do for you.
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