The thought of preparing children for divorce may make you feel bad, but it’s important to know that there are ways you can make the process much easier for your kids. A traumatic result is not inevitable if parents are proactive and communicative (but not over-communicative) about the what and the why of the divorce. A parent’s behavior at the outset of the process of separating can either ease or amplify pain when preparing children for divorce. Even after the divorce, remember that you’ll still have to co-parent together, so trying to have the best relationship possible in a difficult situation will mean that everyone gets the best possible outcome. If you’re thinking of divorce, it’s best to get the conversation started early so the child knows what may happen.
Below, we have compiled some of our top tips to help you as you begin preparing your children for an upcoming divorce.
Top Tips For Preparing Children For Divorce
1/ Don’t fight
An important part of divorcing is ensuring that you do not fight in front of the children. This may cause the children to worry and feel as if they have done something wrong. Instead, save the arguments for when your children can’t hear you. If something needs to be said, it can be said quietly (if heatedly) in another room. And don’t think that whispering angrily through tight smiles helps. Kids aren’t dumb. If the father is screaming in anger, either at the mother or the child, you risk traumatizing them. The reverse is also true.
2/ Have the hard talk
In the best of all possible scenarios, this talk should happen with both parents at the same time. And the message should be as simple as it is predictable: We will be living in separate places, but we are still a family and we still love you. Children will often illogically think that they’re the cause somehow, especially very young children. They’re very ego-centric so they think it’s about them. It’s important to reassure them that they are not the cause and that they didn’t do anything wrong. When preparing children for divorce, while you want to be open and honest with them, there’s no need to go into details. Big issues like adultery or money mismanagement are adult issues, not kid issues.
3/ Never use your child as a messenger
At the beginning of separation, communication is often very tough. It’s important to begin as you mean to continue. separating, It is important that you never use the child as a messenger. It puts them in a difficult position between two parents they love, even if the love has gone between the parents. Instead, whatever you need to tell the other parent, you must do so yourself. A simple text, email or phone call will do the job without including your child.
4/ Be prepared to answer questions
The child will have lots of questions when you announce the divorce. They may range from simple questions about logistics to highly complex questions about relationships. Children thrive on stability and certainty, so if it’s possible to have answers ready, it’ll be worth it. If you do not have answers, be sure to comfort your child and re-assure them that everything will soon be sorted out.
5/ Seek help if it is needed
You may find that your child may not want to tell you how they feel, or may be acting out in confusion and fear. Consider asking for help from a counsellor or psychologist. Your child may prefer to discuss their worries about the divorce to someone who is not involved.
Basic Tips for Preparing Children for Divorce
We have also put together some basic tips to continue to help your child with divorce:
- Encourage honesty from your kids
- Be a good listener
- Tell them it’s okay to share their feelings
- Don’t ignore their feelings
- Keep your family healthy
- Update your kids on details that relate to them
You may not be sure how to broach the subject of divorce with your kids, so here are some more tips:
- Tell them it isn’t their fault
- Encourage your kids that both parents still love them
- Tell them they will be safe with all the new changes
- You will both continue to be their parents
- That you will work through the change together
- You do not wish to blame anyone