Deciding to divorce can be incredibly difficult. There are often big, powerful emotions involved in the decision, from anger and resentment to sadness and guilt.
And while adults struggle with making the decision, at least they are the ones in control of it. Children, on the other hand, typically have little say in the matter. Because of this, parents should consider the following tips for talking to their kids about divorce.
Make the discussion age-appropriate
Tailor your discussion to the age of your child. Young children may not know what a divorce is or what it means; older children may feel like it is their fault. Depending on a child’s age, he or she may need more reassurance, explanations or outlets to express themselves.
Keep communication lines open
Kids of every age can have concerns, questions and reactions to news of their parents’ divorce. It is vital that parents allow a child to communicate with them or another trusted adult. Talk to your kids about what they are feeling or what they are scared about. You might even have your child speak to a counselor.
Present a united front
Parents who speak to children together reinforce the message that even when they are divorced, they will still be parents.
Being together when you talk to your child about divorce can help to preserve the relationships between each parent and the child and possibly set the stage for a co-parenting arrangement. It can also ensure the message is consistent.
Give them time
Even if a divorce does not come as a complete surprise to a child, it is still a lot of change and information to take in. As such, parents should give children time to understand and reflect on the news. Don’t rush through the discussion about a divorce or assume it is the only one you will have.
While you may be angry, sad or even happy about a divorce, do not expect your child to feel the same, especially right away. Every person reacts differently, so parents should give children the room to react and respond in their own way and own time.