To a child, a divorce is a significant and traumatic event. The two people who they rely on to care for and meet their needs are no longer going to be together. As a parent, it is your job to ensure that your child understands why the divorce is happening and that he or she had nothing to do with it occurring.
Explain That Relationships Don’t Always Work Out
For younger children, the dynamics of an adult relationship can seem mysterious. Therefore, they may not understand why their parents are suddenly choosing to stop living with and interacting with each other. The key is to explain that people don’t always get along and that sometimes it’s better that they spend some time apart. However, you should emphasize that just because a relationship doesn’t work out doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone did anything wrong or should be labeled as a bad person.
Focus on How Much Happier Everyone Will Be
Most children can feel the tension created by adults who are together but don’t truly love or respect each other. While they may not say anything out of respect for your feelings or a fear of being reprimanded, don’t fool yourself into thinking that they aren’t impacted by it. Therefore, it can be easier and more honest to focus on the benefits that the divorce will provide.
The types of benefits that you choose to discuss should be based on the child’s age. For instance, a younger child may only comprehend that mom and dad will yell less and generally be nicer toward him or her. However, an older child may be able to comprehend the fact that that a divorce can result in less stress for everyone, which can be a boon for a child’s education or social life.
Don’t Get Into Details About Why the Divorce Happened
You don’t need to spend a lot of time talking about the specific reasons that the marriage has come to an end. In almost all cases, talking about your stagnant sex life or the fact that one parent was cheating on the other is too much information for a child to handle. Furthermore, it could result in a child having a negative impression of a parent, and that is not fair to your son or daughter.
As the divorce progresses, do not put your child in the middle of any disputes that you and your former spouse have. The same is true after the divorce is final. They should also not be expected to act as a confidant or a sounding board when you need to vent about your former partner. Instead, you should talk to a good friend or a therapist to work through your issues.
Let Your Children Know That You Are There for Them
No matter how a child is when you get divorced, it will take some time to adjust to his or her new living situation. It is important that your kids know that you aren’t going to abandon them in favor of a new spouse or family. One way to prove how much you care about your kids is to ask for joint custody. You can also prove your ongoing love by making an effort to stay in their lives by calling, visiting or writing regularly.
A divorce is tough on both you and your children. Therefore, it is important that you take time to discuss in a manner that they understand and allows them to express their feelings. After the initial conversation, don’t hesitate to have additional talks to ensure that your kids are adjusting to their new circumstances in a healthy way.