Getting a divorce is a difficult in any circumstances, but when there are kids involved there are even more feelings to consider. As it becomes obvious that the marriage truly is breaking down, the kids will need to be let in on what’s happening, as it affects them. For most kids, their parent’s divorce means that they will no longer have both parents accessible under one roof anymore, and although that change is difficult, it doesn’t mean it isn’t the best option under the circumstances.
Although there are probably many things that that the two of you don’t agree on as a couple, it is also likely that you want the transition from parenting under one roof to parenting under two to go as smoothly as possible for your children. To make sure this happens, you both need to get on the same page as far as that goes.
Preplan the talk
While it may be impossible to figure out your kids reaction completely, parents can anticipate some of the questions and concerns their children will have and decide on a consistent way to address them. If there are details you can’t quite agree on, try to agree to disagree rather than argue, and let your children know you will settle that issue, even if it means working with a professional or letting a judge decide. Some answers will likely be obvious to you both, but are good for your kids to hear nonetheless. These include
- That you love them
- That they are not to blame for your breakup
- That they will be able to retain a relationship with each of you
- That they should not charge themselves with the task of mending your relationship.
Avoid pointing fingers
When you’re about to embark on the divorce process, it is easy to think of things your spouse has done, or ways you feel you have been treated or neglected that makes you feel like the failure of the marriage is the other person’s fault. It is important not to convey this to your child, regardless of how strongly you believe this to be true. All your kids need to know is that staying with your spouse is not making you happy and fulfilled. While getting a divorce is hard while it is happening, it is ultimately a way that you can take care of yourself and in return better care for your kids too.
Address the “little” concerns
Some of the concerns your kids have may seem superficial, and you won’t necessarily have the right answers to every question, but try to be prepared to answer these if you can, and recognize that they are important to their lives. Some things they may ask include
- Will my school change?
- How will this affect relationships with my friends or my daily life?
- Will I have my own room at both homes?
Answer everything you can, and admit to details you don’t know but commit to finding as many answers as you can to the questions you
Be prepared for anger
When kids hear about their parent’s upcoming divorce, many act out in anger. Some may express this right away, and may run into their room, slam their door and declare that you are ruining their lives as soon as they hear the news. Others may react later or may start to have problems at school or be intolerant in their own relationships. Many will misbehave as a sort of retaliation. If this becomes an issue, make it clear that although their anger is justified, their misbehavior is not.
Your child’s anger is not the only source of anger you need to be concerned about. You need to plan how to deal with your own as well. Do your best not to project it onto your child, and don’t use it as an excuse to put your child into the role of referee.
Keep an open door
While the first conversation can be revealing, don’t expect everything to be resolved in one sitting. Remind your kids you are both available to talk again when they need you to. Once the news of divorce is broken, it is best to move forward in the most civilized way as possible so that everyone’s needs are met in the best way possible. Seeking advice from a family law attorney will help. Contact Hardin Law Firm PLLC to learn more about how we can help you and your family through the transition.