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10 Tips for Talking to Your Children About Divorce

Kane County Divorce Attorneys

Kane County Family Law AttorneysIf you and your spouse are considering ending your marriage, you might feel hesitant about telling your children about the divorce. This is natural; no parent wants to give their child “bad news.” But you should not put off this important series of discussions. Below are a few tips to make talking to your children about your divorce easier.

Keep It Age-Appropriate

You know your child’s maturity level. Depending on your child’s age, give him or her enough information to understand your divorce without overwhelming him or her with facts or sharing inappropriate information. If your children have a drastic age gap, consider speaking to your older child separately to provide more information after your initial announcement.

Talk to Your Children About Divorce Together

You and your spouse should speak to your children—all of them—about the divorce together. This way, nobody is the “bearer of bad news” or feels like they are keeping a secret from others in the family.

Keep Your Emotions and Opinions Out of Your Discussions

Focus on the facts of your divorce. Do not blame your partner or allow him or her to blame you for the breakdown of the marriage. Never use your children as an emotional sounding board or put them into a position where they feel the need to pick a side.

Encourage Healthy Self-Expression

Your children might cry. They might become angry. They might react in dramatically different ways. You know your children’s personalities and you will probably anticipate beforehand how each will react, but they could surprise you. Your children might even have had a sense that divorce was imminent and their reactions could surprise you. Regardless of how they react, make healthy self-expression a part of your discussion. Talk about ways to express themselves that do not hurt others, such as drawing pictures or writing in journals. Set clear boundaries about which behaviors are appropriate and which are not, and work with your partner to maintain these boundaries.

Discuss New Routines and Expectations

Your lifestyle will change during and after the divorce. So will your children’s and your partner’s. If you have a temporary parenting plan in place, go over it with your children so they are prepared for the changes that are to come. Talk about your plans for these new routines and how you expect them to make efforts to adjust.

Remain Cooperative with your Former Partner

Talk privately with your spouse about what you plan to say to your children and how you will present certain information before you actually start this discussion. You will be co-parenting with him or her for the remainder of your children’s minor years, so it is important to establish a healthy, cooperative dynamic early on.

Assure your Child That It Is Not His or Her Fault

Your child might feel like he or she somehow caused your divorce. Assure him or her that this is not the case. Even if the stresses of raising children were part of what drove you and your spouse apart, keep this to yourself.

Answer Your Child’s Questions

If your child has questions about your divorce, he or she deserves answers. This is true even if your answer is “I don’t know yet.” Keep your answers age-appropriate.

Focus on the Future

A divorce is not the end of your life as a family. Rather, it is the end of a specific phase in your family life. During discussions with your child, focus on how his or her life will change. You might talk about your partner moving to a new home or your child having scheduled visits with both parents. Most importantly, talk about how the divorce will help you and your partner to become happier, better parents to your children.

Remain Available for Further Discussions

Disclosing your divorce to your children will not be a one-time event. Expect to discuss the divorce with your children on multiple occasions as you move closer to finalization. You will likely discuss aspects of the divorce as well after it is finalized, potentially for years to come as your child develops and asks more complex questions.

Work with Our Team of Experienced St. Charles Divorce Attorneys

Divorce is rarely easy, especially for children whose parents are going through the divorce process. But you can make it easier for your children by making yourself emotionally available to them. For more tips on helping your children through the divorce process, speak with one of the experienced St. Charles divorce attorneys at Goostree Law Group. Contact us today at 630-584-4800 to schedule your initial consultation.

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