Ending a marriage is difficult for spouses, but even more so for children involved who lack the ability to cope with the mere idea of their parents separating. How you break the news to them can help soften the blow and make this tough time more bearable. There will likely be many more conversations with them regarding the divorce, but this first discussion will set the foundation for an open and healthy dialogue.
Here are some helpful tips to consider before telling your children about the divorce.
- Set Rules: You might disagree on an innumerable amount of issues with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, but you both want what is best for your child, so work like a team and set some rules for how you discuss this with your children. Agree on what you plan to say and how you plan on saying it. This means agreeing not to play the blame game. Fighting in front of your children or pressuring them to choose sides will only aggravate the situation and harm them in the long run. If you truly cannot cooperate during this discussion, arrange two separate conversations, and still agree to follow the same rules.
- Schedule It: You will not know how your children will react, so you cannot predict how long the conversation will take. Block out a chunk of time for your children, so that there is plenty of time for them to react and ask questions. Do not schedule it before bedtime, on their way to school, before you plan on leaving for work, or any other situation that does not leave time for them to process the information and ask questions.
- Do Not Mention it Until You Are Sure: If you are not entirely certain that you and your spouse are moving forward with a divorce, do not have this discussion with your children. You might end up working things out. You do not want to scare them for no reason.
- It Is Never Really Over: Even after you discuss the divorce with your kids and answer their questions, your work is still not done. They are going to continue to process the information and what it might mean for their lives, possibly developing more questions that will need answers. This is an uncertain time, so expect that they will need extra attention and be prepared to answer the same question more than once.
- Maintain Routines: Stability is important for children. Maintain their routine by encouraging playdates with the same friends, keep them enrolled at the same school, drive them to their after school activities, and continue any other routines they might have. The maintenance of routines offers a great source of comfort during time when things might not feel stable.
- Create a Support System: Tell others who might need to know about the divorce, such as teachers, babysitters, or friends’ parents. Your children are not with you 24/7, so you might not be aware of any behavioral changes. If you let others know what is happening, they might be able to let you know if they notice any unusual behavior.
- Be Honest: You are human and it is okay to let your kids see that you are sad about the end of your marriage. This does not mean you can put them in a position where they feel they need to comfort you. You are the parent and it is your job to offer them comfort. It is also important not to badmouth your spouse in front of them. Things may not have worked between the two of you, but he or she is still their parent.
- Ask For Help: If the situation is too much for you to handle and your kids are having a hard time coping with the divorce, asking for help is one of the best things you can do. Find a therapist who can work with your family, including your ex-spouse.
Oklahoma City Family Law Lawyers
At Mazaheri Law Firm, we work closely with our clients to provide a balanced, sound, and effective solution to your divorce. Our skilled legal team handles each case with compassion because we understand this is an emotional time. When you are dealing with issues that impact the lives of your children, finances, and personal life, it is important to hire a lawyer who has your best interests at heart.
Contact us today at (405) 414-2222 to reach our team.