Many people considering divorce have already experienced sleepless nights, anxiety, and a range of other emotions that have led them to believe that divorce might be the most appropriate way to move forward. It is not an easy decision for adults who have invested time, energy, finances, and themselves into trying to make a marriage work and creating a family. The process can be even more difficult for children to adjust to. While staying together for the kids can often prove more harmful for the children in the long run, the idea of talking to your children about the possibility of divorce or the decision to pursue divorce can be intimidating. We have compiled the following tips that may be helpful for you in talking to your children about divorce.
Create a Plan for Moving Forward
Most of the time, the decision to get divorced does not happen overnight. When you and your spouse have realized that divorce is likely the option you will pursue, it is important to create a plan for moving forward. What will your living arrangements be? If one parent plans on moving out, will there be custody and visitation issues that need to be addressed? When will that spouse leave the marital home? Do you have an annual family vacation coming up that could be affected by the divorce? Taking these and other individually applicable circumstances into consideration is important when you contemplate divorce. Children handle things much better when they know what to expect, and having a plan in place will help you answer their questions and address uncertainties more quickly and accurately. When both parents are on the same page about the dynamics of how the divorce process will work, and can anticipate how the process may affect their children, children are likely to adjust to the divorce in a healthier way.
Create a Plan for Talking to Your Children with Your Spouse
Lack of communication could certainly be one reason for divorce. However, if you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, it is important to try and work together on a plan that you will both follow in talking to your children about divorce. Whenever possible, you should try to work together with your spouse in discussing important issues with your children, but it is a good idea for your plan to cover interactions each individual spouse will have the children, too. When possible, work with your spouse before talking to your children about what you will and will not say. You both know your children well, and having a plan can help make it easier to handle children’s emotions throughout the divorce process. Establishing boundaries for what you will and will not say or allow can also help make individual parenting time easier.
Talk to Your Children Together
Even in situations in which communication is strained, if it is possible to put differences aside and talk to your children about divorce together with your spouse, then you should do so. Chances are, both of you wish to remain in your children’s lives as much as possible. Even though you are getting divorced and will no longer be a couple, you will both still be parents. Talking to your children together about divorce can help your children understand that both parents love and care for them and are there for them during the divorce process.
Do Not Blame Each other
When anger gets the best of you, especially when you believe your spouse has taken certain actions that have led to the decision to divorce, it is easy to fall into the trap of blaming each other. However, your children do not need to know all the details about a divorce. While it is certainly important for your children to understand what divorce means, blaming one parent or the other will only serve to damage relationships between everyone involved. It is important to be open and honest with your children, but that does not mean sharing intimate details about things that may not be appropriate for them to know. Working as a team as much as possible and not blaming each other can also send a positive, healthy message to a child.
Allow Your Children to Experience Their Emotions
No parent wants to see a child in pain, whether that pain is physical or emotional. Generally, parents work with children on engaging in appropriate behavior so that children can learn to cope with emotions effectively as they grow. To that end, it is difficult to see children slam doors, yell, cry, or do any number of things they might end up doing when faced with the possibility of their parents divorcing. However, it is important to allow your child to recognize and express his or her emotions – be those emotions ones of grief, anger, relief, or something else. Just as adults cope with stressful situations in different ways, so will children. Allowing your children to access their emotions can help them deal with divorce in a much healthier way, and it will also help demonstrate to a child that their emotions are important to their parents.
Do Not Be Afraid of Experts
Physical and mental health experts such as primary care physicians and therapists can have a wealth of information that may help your child handle a divorce more effectively. Do not be afraid to reach out to experts that interact with your child on a regular basis and discuss any concerns you may have, or to contact new experts that you have been referred to or believe may be of some help to your child. Many parents are reluctant to take this step because of their own privacy concerns, but also because they worry that such a step means medication and continuous therapy for a child once those things begin. However, many medical experts are actually reluctant to unnecessarily medicate children for emotional issues and have found that children can often better cope with divorce after even just a few meetings with a therapist.
Many times, simply paying attention to your child’s needs is all it will take to help them navigate the divorce process. You know your child and will be able to see if they are becoming more withdrawn or acting out, or if there are other indications that they are not handling the news of a divorce as well as they could. Even making sure you allow enough time for your child to just talk to you – about the divorce or about their latest interest – can help them cope with divorce.
Legal Assistance with Divorce
If you are contemplating divorce or have made the difficult decision to get a divorce, then it is important to work with a Florida family law attorney that focuses his or her practice on divorce and related issues. Doing so can help make the process easier for you, which in turn can make the process easier for your children, too. Contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about how divorce could affect you based on your individual circumstance as well as more things you can do to make the process less stressful for everyone involved.