The end of a marriage and the years of relationship that went into it is devastating, no matter how your relationship ends or what terms you want to be on. At one point this person was your best friend, and now you can no longer sustain a life together. What makes this even harder is when children are involved. When and how to bring them into the loop of your divorce is important to the health and happiness of your child and your future relationship with your ex-partner.
How do you talk to your child about your divorce?
You want to appear to your child united, as friends, even if it won’t be true in the long run. You’ll want to plan what you say and prepare for a gamut of reactions from your child or children. This is about ensuring normalcy in the face of world-altering change. It’s going to be tough, but you can go in prepared.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind going into talking to your child about divorce. It’s not comprehensive but it should help you get an idea for what you to expect.
No matter the nature of your divorce, who initiated the conversations, etc. you should appear to your children as a united front. Sit down together, talk together. This part of it isn’t about you, it’s about the emotional well-being of your children and you’ll need to take yourself and your feelings for your ex-spouse out of the equation if you’re going to help your child through this.
Be Prepared with What to Say
You don’t have to write out an entire script, especially considering you have no idea how your child will react. But this is also not a conversation you wing or bring up impulsively. You have to figure out how to phrase and frame this to your child. Keep in mind how much they may be aware of what is happening and phrase accordingly. Your children aren’t dumb, but they also don’t need too many details about your disagreements.
Get Ready for Responses
You can’t truly predict how your children will react. In fact, the reaction might last over several days or weeks as they work through the stages of understanding and even grief. Be prepared for several reactions and reactions that might even contradict each other, at times. Your child may be solemn, may be angry, may be sad, may act out. You need to be ready for all of it.
How Does Divorce Affect Children?
Papers, and books, and movies have been written about this. Most notably, for you, however, is that the child will lose daily contact with at least one parent and will experience a shift in relationship with their custodial parent. Across the board, children tend to feel a gradual decay in closeness with their fathers after a divorce.
Does Age Affect the Way a Child Responds?
Depending on your child’s developmental stage, they may respond differently. Children under 12 will likely not understand the permanence of a divorce and have trouble accepting it as a concrete reality. For older teens, they can have a blow to self-esteem as the result of divorce and academics will suffer as a result. The older a child gets, the more they can become pulled into arguments, doing further damage.
Divorce is scary and upsetting, especially for children. Be honest, be kind, and understand this part of it is not about you or your relationship. Be united and help your child through this change to their world.
Taking the first step towards divorce begins with advice. Speak to a trusted and experienced divorce attorney before you start the process. The divorce and family law office of Rappleye & Rappleye can help, beginning with answering all your questions. With over 60 years’ experience in all facets of family law including child support, child custody, spousal support and property division, you are in good hands!
At Rappleye & Rappleye, P.C. we acknowledge that family law disputes are stressful, complicated and at times, hard to accept. We will provide the right solution for your case and safeguard your future. If you are thinking about divorce, call our family law office today and get started on a new beginning!