Unfortunately, not all marriages work out and more often than not Divorce is the only sensible course of action. In these times how you deliver this realization to your child is very important. In this article, we will outline a few tips to guide you in this delivery to your children.
Break the news to your kids as a team
No matter who is to blame the problem of divorce is something you both have to deal with. Talking to your kids together and sharing accountability shows a united front. Additionally, you need to ensure that:
- You try not to show anger or hostility towards each other during this time.
- Make the children understand that you tried your best to make it work but it was not to be.
- The children are aware that you will both be there as parents despite the divorce.
- Emphasize the word ‘we’ as much as you can to make them understand that none of you are abandoning their parental role as well as showing your mutual love for them.
Tell all your children at the same time
You may feel that because you have children of various ages telling the older children first will be better since they should be able to understand and handle the situation better. However, by doing this you can give these kids the extra burden of keeping the secret from their siblings. So instead of that tell them all together to allow them to be each other’s support system. This makes them deal with things better overall as they feel that they are not coping with the news alone but as a team.
Don’t Assume Your Children’s Responses
Granted, you are the parent and know your child better than anyone. You know their responses to every-day situations but that doesn’t mean this will be the same reaction they will have to a life-changing situation like divorce. Indeed, it is one of those situations whereby if have not seen your child dealing with a truly traumatic experience – the outcome should not be assumed. People handle stress and trauma differently making them unpredictable. So a usually expressive kid, for example, may completely shut down after hearing such news while others that are usually calm can become volatile.
In times like this as long as you appreciate that your child will emote at this time and you should take this in your stride and not be overly surprised or panic-stricken. It is obviously a shock to them so give them time to absorb what is happening and process it in their own way.
Honesty is the best policy
Parents always have their protective mechanism on and some try to shield their kids through a divorce by telling them virtually nothing. The problem is that it is impossible to predict how one’s child will react. Try and answer their questions honestly. However – do not take this literally. When talking about divorce you also need to factor in your child`s age. Children understand the tone and visual cues of their parents and this only increases as they get older. For a young child keep it simple with what is going on, why it’s happening, and what is to follow. Older children (teenagers or adults) are far more perceptive so you need to be wary of what you tell them. Do not let them be your sounding board as this may cause more harm than good in the long run. Do not promise something when you are unsure. When asked something you are not about be candid about it and keep them in the loop if need be.
Timing when to tell your children about the pending divorce is very important. Remember the repercussions of divorce are long-lasting so telling the children at the most conducive time is likely to minimize the trauma. In this regard:
- Attempt to get a time when all in the family are commitment free for the next couple of hours. Trying to tell your child you are getting divorced when they about to go out to play games, meet friends or any other social activities is not a good idea as from that day the child may associate that activity with their parents’ divorce.
- Once you have an appropriate time pick a place that is quiet and in the home if possible.
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