Divorce is not an easy process especially when you have kids. It’s hard on the couple that is undergoing this emotional and extreme life-changing event. It’s harder even still on the children of this couple. Often times the children of a divorcing couple can be, the hardest hurdle to surmount. Parents are grownups. They are more apt to understand, at least technically, even if not emotionally, that divorce is not something that is entered into lightly. No one gets married, thinking that oh, its okay if it doesn’t work out there’s always divorce. Every couple wants to believe that they’re marrying their forever mate. But unfortunately, that’s not always so. Things happen. People change. Situations and emotions change so that once perfect marriage just doesn’t work. But how do parents make children understand when they are still struggling to understand.
7 Tips For Talking About Divorce With Kids
1). Mom and Dad will still spend time with you. Kids can really use the assurance that even though you’re divorcing, you’ll still be there for them. So make sure that as a united front, you both reassure them that while things will change you’ll BOTH still be there, forever and always. This conversation now and future renditions of it will go a long way to reassuring them that you’ll still be there. Don’t assume that they understand what divorce means. As age-appropriately as possible, spell it out for them. “Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to be married anymore but, we will still ALWAYS be your Mommy and Daddy.”
2). What’s changing and staying the same? Stress what is staying the same. Introduce a conversation where you let your children know exactly what is staying the same. This part is important first as it goes a long way to reassuring them. Parents aren’t aware of all the information about divorce that our children may have been exposed to. So spelling it out as to what divorce means in their case can go a long way to dispelling inaccurate information that they may have received. Then touch on what will change. Be sure when you list these changes you introduce them with a positive. “Daddy will be staying at a different place. But, you’ll SEE him…”
3). It’s not their fault. It is also very important that parents make sure that their children understand that Mom and Dad’s divorce, was not caused by anything that they did. There are many reported instances of children that blame themselves for their parents divorce. This can be a tremendous weight for a child to carry. Be as age-appropriately honest with your children as possible so they won’t feel to blame. But frame it in a positive light that doesn’t cause blame to one parent or the other.
4). Acknowledge their feelings. Another important part of the divorce conversation that a parent has with their child/children should be to acknowledge their feeling about their parent’s divorce. Parents should take great pains to assure them that it’s okay to be sad/angry/confused…whatever. Stay tuned in to what your child/children are feeling and be open to letting them express it. A support group or for the parents will be helpful in them dealing with the emotional turmoil that the divorce is causing to them but, such an outlet may also be a good choice for your child/children to help them deal with the overwhelming emotions brought on by divorce.
5). Call absent parent. Reassure your child/children that they can always reach out and touch the parent that will no longer be present. This is very important to help them overcome the radical change that divorce has brought to their life. Parents going through a divorce should make it part of their recovery for their children to have contact outlets set up. It can be something as simple as setting up a webcam on the home computer so that the child can see/speak to the missing parent when needed. Assure your children that this is an option that is open to them at anytime or provide a list of times. But the most important thing is that they know that you’ll be there.
6). Mom and Dad still love you. One of the most important parts of the divorce talk with kids should be, the part where Mom and Dad tell their children that divorce won’t change that Mom and Dad love them. Don’t be afraid to repeat this over-and-over again. This is really important for them to hear. But also, for them to feel, by means of their parents’ actions toward them and the amount of time they spend with them. When they need you, be there. Hearing this over-and-over, seeing it by means of your actions, is one of the best ways to help them adjust and not be emotionally traumatized by your divorce.
7). We’re still your Mom and Dad. Divorce can leave a child thinking that they’ve lost the displaced parent. The parent that is not going to be constantly with them may seem to them as if they’ve deserted their role as Mom or Dad. So, taking the time to reassure them that even though Mom and Dad won’t be married anymore, it doesn’t mean that they are loosing a parent, Mom and Dad are, and always will be, their Mom and Dad.
Divorce is hard.
There’s no two ways about it. But if parents actively seek support to deal with their emotional issues and have a resolve to put their children mental and emotional health before their issues than it can get easier, for both the parents and their children. So the very best advice to parents when they are faced with having the talk with their children about divorce is, don’t play the blame game. Don’t get your children involved in your issues with your spouse. This will only serve to make it harder on them. Parents going through a divorce are still parents and putting the best wishes of their children first, should always be their goal.