For many, divorce is a reality that we have to face. According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute for Professional Psychology in Springfield, MO, 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Divorce is a painful occurrence, regardless of the circumstances and the most vulnerable during this life-altering event are the children.
Following are some pointers on how to break the news to your children that I followed during my own divorce:
- Parent Training: Parents should get informed, consult with a professional and or get counseling before breaking the news to the children. Make sure both adults are on the same page. Get educated on age-appropriate jargon to use, how to approach the conversation, and what to do in different outcome scenarios.
- The Right Time: Although there is no ideal time to break the news to children, it is vital to find a time in which parents and children can sit down and have a conversation without distractions.
- Honesty: Be honest in the conversation. Honesty does not mean you disclose intimate aspects of the marriage and the causes of divorce. It means answering your children’s questions to the best of your ability with age-appropriate explanations. If you don’t have the answer to a question just say: We don’t know that yet but mommy and daddy are working on resolving that.
Read Related: How Parents Should Speak to Children About Divorce
- Be Civil: Come to the conversation calmly and with compassion. Children have it worse than adults during divorce so do avoid adding violence and aggression to the conversation. Insults, name-calling, manipulation, coercion, screaming and yelling are all off-limits.
- Much Love and Reassurance: Children may feel like they will lose one or both parents during divorce. Feelings of abandonment, confusion, and fear are normal during this period. Always reassure children that only mom and dad are getting a divorce and that in no way will your love and attention for your children diminish.
- Get Help for the Kids: Expect the news to have an adverse emotional impact on your children; however, do help them cope. If you see your children are depressed or falling behind in school, get them professional help. Also, inform their teachers and school officials of the situation so they can intervene if needed.
The most important thing you can do for your children during this process is to give them your love and support. Most importantly, keep them out of the battleground. Children deserve loving parents that collaborate with each other and make the most out of the situation to make sure they thrive after divorce.
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