You love your kids and you don’t want them to feel any pain or anyone to upset them, but you’re about to tell them that their Mommy and Daddy are splitting up, and they’re more than likely going to react emotionally.
Prepare yourself, because this is hard for everyone involved.
Below are 7 Suggestions From An Adult Child Of Divorce:
1. Ask them what they already know about divorce/break-ups.
Test their knowledge. See if they’ve heard about divorce already, if their friends have divorced parents, or if they’ve noticed their parents fighting or a distance in the relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask them about what they can openly observe. And, don’t tell them you are getting a divorce before making sure they are clear about what a divorce is.
2. Don’t press the issue too quickly.
Wait until things are certain. Make sure your spouse and you are actually going through with the divorce before saying anything to your children. You don’t want to upset or confuse your children if you end up not divorcing. Also, telling them too early could cause them to side with one parent, making it hard for them to trust the other one.
3. Explain it like you would to a five-year-old.
If they’re five years old or not, older, or younger, try to explain it as slowly and positively as you can. Let them know what it means, the painful side of it, but then reinforce the positive things that make the divorce worth it for the family as a whole.
When your child reacts to the news, if they get upset, yell, throw a fit, you have to understand they are witnessing the death of their family and experiencing immense pain. Some children might not react the way you’d expect. They may even laugh because they don’t understand exactly what’s happening. So, it’s very important to stay serious and make sure they realize the reality of the situation and, to also validate their feelings, whatever those feelings are.
4. Don’t go into too much detail about why you’re divorcing.
Try to explain the situation age appropriately. There is a limit to what a child should know about his/her parents personal lives. There’s a certain age where it’s okay to tell them what happened, but sometimes it’s better not to go into extreme detail. I was young when my parents’ divorce. I know from experience that children don’t want to know all the details. They just want to know you will both continue to love them.
5. Tell them together.
Tell your children together. Sit next to each other, and try to remain relaxed and act polite to one another and the kids will pick up on that in a positive way. Might even make the whole situation a lot easier for the children.
Also, this goes without saying, but don’t argue in front of your children, that will only make this harder on the kids. They will not know who the turn to or trust with their feelings if they have parents who are fighting and arguing.
6. Act like a team.
Take turns explaining yourself, and remember to ask your kids questions, and answer whatever questions they might have for you. Acknowledge that they are part of the family, and part of your relationship as well. Well, because of your relationship, they are here today so when your relationship dies, part of them dies. Or, that is how they feel so, take that into consideration.
7. Try not to talk badly about the other parent.
Kids learn from their parents. If you are irrationally negative about your ex, the child may follow your lead, and that’s not fair to the other parent or the child. Yes, we make mistakes, but your child doesn’t need his/her view of either of their parents altered due to one or the other parent’s anger.
Make sure your child is aware that the other parent still loves them and just because you all won’t be living together anymore, that it doesn’t mean you’re not still a family. And then, make sure you do whatever you have to do to help your child feel like they still have a family that can get along.
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