The truth is that children will learn about their parent’s divorce sooner or later. It’s likely going to be scary and confusing for children, but parents can help their children process the situation by having a conversation (or several) with them.
While parents may be uncomfortable discussing their divorces, a proactive approach can help reduce uncertainty for your children and foster trust. Here are some tips that can help:
Work together to decide what you will say
You and your spouse should be on the same page. You may both have some idea about what you do and don’t want to say, so talk to each other before you talk to the kids. It can also help to talk about how to create a no-blame narrative at this time. When parents create a no-blame narrative, children are less likely to pick sides and resent one parent or the other.
Keep your children’s ages in mind
One thing that many parents forget is how they should talk to their children — and it varies by their ages. Children process information differently depending on their age. Parents need to consider how their children’s ages will change the conversations they need to have.
For example, a toddler is not going to understand what a divorce means. A grade-schooler may have some idea about divorce and need simple explanations. A teenager or young adult will have a strong understanding of divorce and its complexities, which may cause them to want to know more about what to expect and why it is happening.
Make the conversation a family affair
No matter what a child’s age is, it can help them if the entire family talks together. This allows children to realize that each parent is still there for them despite the divorce. Furthermore, it can help reduce the risk of a child discovering the news of their parents’ divorce through the wrong person.
Let your children ask questions
Children process information through questions. Parents should consider answering their children’s questions honestly and to the best ability, even if the questions are difficult to answer.
Divorce is no easy matter to discuss whether it’s with children or in court. Parents who understand their legal rights may make better choices for their children’s well-being during the divorce process.