Talking to Your Children About Divorce
When it comes to divorce, your entire family is impacted. While you and your ex-spouse may feel the brunt of the emotional pain, children are also affected by these changes and their normal day-to-day experiences can be quite altered. That is why speaking to your children appropriately about divorce and making an effort to co-parent effectively after separation can help your children come to terms with their new life. Here, the divorce and child custody attorneys at Rodier Family Law discuss the process of speaking to your children about divorce and tips for making this process easier on the entire family.
Speak With Your Partner About a Solid Communication Strategy
While it may be difficult, it is important to discuss how you would like to speak about your divorce to your children throughout the divorce process. If one parent speaks to their children alone, and the other parent then tells a contradictory story, your children may become confused or scared, not knowing which parent to turn to for guidance, and in turn, suffering in silence. Consider planning to tell them when you have additional time to spend with family, such as the beginning of the weekend. Be sure to communicate as thoroughly as possible with your ex-spouse about how you are going to tell your children. While it is difficult, it is important to model calm, communicative behavior for your children to help minimize the initial impact of this announcement.
Be Direct About Changes and Provide Reassurance
After having the initial conversation of divorce with your child, be direct about what changes may occur in the coming weeks, months and years. If you and your ex-spouse have already come to a custody agreement, then explain that clearly to your children. While detailed explanations will vary based on your child’s age, providing them with appropriate information to help them understand and process these changes is important. Your children will be going from having a two-parent household to spending their time with one parent or the other. Their time with each parent may be split and they will have to grow accustomed to moving back and forth regularly. If they will be staying at your and/or your ex-spouse’s new home they will have to adjust to new living arrangements and schedules as well.
It is reality that not all divorces are amicable. If you have suffered from infidelity, domestic abuse or other harmful matters that impact your ability to have a conversation with your ex-spouse you may not be able to speak to your children together. Speaking to them as a single parent is still important, so that they are aware of why these changes are occurring. While you can go into as much detail with your child as you feel comfortable with and as is appropriate for your unique situation, providing reassurance that you are focused on your children’s best interest, and that you are there to protect and care for them, provides a sense of comfort and stability for many children of divorce.
Allow Your Children to Ask Questions and Take Time to Adjust
When speaking to your children about divorce, it is understandable that it will take some time for them to fully comprehend what is going on, and how this will impact their everyday lives. If you have provided your children with an overview of why you and your significant other are divorcing, give your children time to ask questions. They may not fully understand what is happening and why, and in some instance should not be given all of the details pertaining to the separation, but being there to support them and provide guidance can be a huge help. Younger children especially are not able to compartmentalize their emotions, and in turn may act out through anger or sadness as they try to work through this time. Just as you are learning to adjust to the new life of a single parent or co-parent, your child is adjusting to their new everyday routine. There is no one way to speak to your children about divorce, but it is important to be open, communicative and supportive as your family navigates the complexities of your new life.
Discuss Your Options With Divorce and Child Custody Attorneys at Rodier Family Law
Creating a comprehensive strategy to speak to your children about divorce can provide clarity and guidance to all family members, and help you and your ex-spouse co-parent effectively as needed. To discuss your divorce and custody options with the qualified Harford County attorneys at Rodier Family Law, contact our Bel Air office today.