Divorce isn’t easy for anyone – especially children. Even though you, as an adult, have the ability to understand the complexities of the situation, your child may not. For a child, divorce is a scary word that brings up feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.As you make your way through the divorce process, helping your child to understand what is happening, why it’s happening and what their role in this new family configuration is can help them to better understand and accept the situation at hand. If you’re not exactly sure how to do this, you aren’t alone. It’s common for divorcing parents to feel unsure about the best ways to help their children cope with divorce.Navigating a divorce when children are involved can create more than a few questions. If you’re looking for manageable ways to help your child deal with a divorce, take a look at some of the most common concerns that parents have and what you can do to solve potential problems.
When Should a Parent Discuss Divorce With the Child?
Depending on your child’s age, they may or may not already have some level of awareness about what is going on. Every couple is different, and some may have hidden the conflict from the children more than others.If you keep your disagreements between you and your spouse, your child may have very little idea that a divorce is a possibility. But if you are openly arguing or obviously resentful, your child (even a young child) can pick up on what’s going on.Even if you’re almost completely sure that your child suspects you and your spouse are having problems, wait until your plans are firm before sitting down for a family conversation. It’s likely that your child will have plenty of questions. Being able to answer their questions can help your child to feel more comfortable with the situation.There’s no set-in-stone timetable for talking to your child about a divorce. When you’ve made plans for one parent to move out and you’ve started the legal process, you need to speak with your child.
How In-Depth Should Divorce Conversations Get?
The answer to this question depends on the child’s age. While you don’t want to sugarcoat the situation, you also don’t want to provide information that your child doesn’t need to know. This includes specifics such as, “Daddy cheated on Mommy”, “Mommy spent all of our money,” or other similar remarks.Avoid the blame game during divorce conversations. The goal should be to help your child know that they aren’t at fault. Instead of over-sharing details that your child is either too young to understand or doesn’t need to know, focus on relevant facts. This might include a timeline for the divorce, living situation information and the fact that you both still (and will always) love your child.
What Should Happen After the Initial Conversation?
The shock of the divorce news may make it challenging for your child to truly discuss what is happening and what will happen in the future. After the initial conversation, your child is likely to have more questions. Remind your child that you’re here for them and will answer questions as they arise.Encourage your child to be honest with you, and help them continue to share what’s on their mind. If you’re unable to answer their questions or feel like you’re not equipped to provide solutions, emotional support, or the help they need right now, consult a professional.Individual or family counseling can help your child work through powerful emotions in a productive way. It can also help you to learn new parenting strategies and ways to support your child’s emotions.Follow the tips above to help your child through the tumultuous and confusing emotions that can come when parents divorce.Are you considering a divorce? The Law Office of Cicily Simms can help with child custody disputes, child support, modification, and other related issues.