The marriage dissolution process is fraught with complicated matters that require a delicate touch in order to achieve favorable results. Yet, some people find that the most difficult part of getting a divorce is simply informing their children. A lot of parents fear seeing the anxiety and disappointment in their children’s eyes, which is a completely understandable. But, it’s news that has to be broken. By taking the right steps, though, you can reduce the impact it has on your children.
When you start the conversation with your children, you want to try to be up front and honest while speaking in terms that are easy for children to follow. This means that your approach will need to be adjusted depending on your children’s ages. Regardless of their age, though, you should follow this guidance:
- Speak the truth: As painful as it may be, the truth is the best way to address the topic of divorce with your children. You can explain that you and your spouse simply no longer get alone, or that sometimes people have different ideas of what their lives should look like. Don’t overcomplicate the explanation, though, as doing so could just confuse your children.
- Make sure your children know that you love them: Children are sensitive and often take the blame for things that they aren’t responsible for. Therefore, you should make sure to reassure them that you love them and that none of the divorce is their fault.
- Acknowledge pending changes: A lot of things are going to change after divorce. Your children will probably have a lot of questions about that. Don’t try to hide or minimize the changes. Instead, try to answer your children’s questions as openly and honestly as possible. It’s also helpful to let them know that although many things will change, others will remain the same. This will help your children feel like there’s at least some sort of stability in their lives.
- Don’t blame your spouse: Avoid bashing your children’s other parent. This can only lead to resentment and conflict that can affect your children on an emotional level for a long time to come.
- Be there for your children: Listen to your children. Let them be honest. Reassure them that you will always be there for them and that this is a challenging time for everyone. Try to give them guidance as to next steps so that they can take some comfort in knowing what awaits them down the road.
As difficult as this conversation can be, it’s just the start of what is sometimes a confrontational process. That means you need to be prepared every step of the way, from that initial conversation with your children through the issuance of your divorce decree. If you want to protect yourself as fully as possible throughout the process, then you might want to think about discussing your unique set of circumstances with an experienced family law attorney.