Telling your kids about your divorce can be an exceptionally difficult conversation – perhaps one of the hardest you will ever go through. It is important to tell them yourself though and not leave them to work it out on their own. Even if you understand how helpful the conversation can be for children to grasp what is going on, it can still be difficult to approach this topic. That is why San Diego family lawyer Garwood Reeves has prepared this guide to help you in explaining a divorce to children and to help you talk to your children about the separation.
The first thing you need to consider is where to tell them the news. We suggest making the announcement at home or in the office of your San Diego family divorce attorney. While some people consider taking their children to a happy place to talk to them, you not only risk a scene by doing this, but you also risk ruining that place for your children in the future. When you discuss the issue at home, you are allowing them to be in a comfortable place where they feel free expressing their emotions. If you cannot have the conversation at home, or feel you may need help when things get rough, your San Diego family lawyer’s office can be a good location. This way you can have the additional support provided by your San Diego divorce attorney. Once you have chosen a suitable location to speak with your children, ask them to talk with you for a while and sit down together. Try to sit at eye level with them.
- First, explain the reasons for the divorce. If you start out talking about divorce or separation, the children may become frantic and stop listening.
- Make your discussion age-appropriate. Don’t talk down to the children, but don’t expect them to understand overly-complex issues either. If necessary, break up children of different age groups to break the news, but don’t let them break the news to each other first.
- Be as honest as possible without bashing your spouse. Don’t try to get the kids on your side. Remember, regardless of your relationship with your ex, that person is still the parent of your children. Remind them that both you and your ex both love them.
- Remind the kids that the divorce is not their fault. If they ask about issues related to them, explain that even if you fight about them, it is only related to them, not caused by them.
- Try to answer questions before the children ask them so they know everything they need to understand about the divorce. If you don’t know the answer to a question, for example if you will be moving or not, just say so. Issues you should address include if you will be moving, who the children will live with and if the children will change schools. Tell them they will still get to see their grandparents and other relatives no matter what happens.
- Allow them to ask questions and express their feelings. Be supportive.