Divorce is never easy, especially when there are children involved. Talking to them about the end of a marriage may be difficult, but it can be done. It is important for the children to understand what is going on and how it will effect them. Below is a list of things to cover when talking to your children about divorce - provided by Austin family lawyer, James W. Evans:
Explain What Divorce Means:
Younger children may not have a concept of what divorce is. Start by asking them if they know what divorce is and get them to explain what they think it means. If they don't know, simply state that divorce means that Mama and Daddy won't live in the same house and that they won't be married anymore. Older children more than likely will have several friends who's parents are divorced and may know more about divorce than younger kids. Ask them, too, what they think it means to make sure that they don't have any misinformation. Having the wrong information can be harmful.
This Is Not Their Fault:
Self-blame is a very common emotion that children feel when ever a marriage doesn't work. Constantly reinforce the fact that while the divorce will effect them, it is in no way their fault. This is something that will have to be said again and again. This can never be said enough.
Tell Them How Much You Love Them- Over And Over Again:
Constantly remind them that you love them very much. It is not uncommon for children, especially small ones, to fear that they will lose the love of one or both of their parents. Their world is changing faster than they will be comfortable with and they will need to be constantly reassured that your love for them will never change.
Leave The Blame And The Details Out:
Children do not need to know how the marriage fell apart. It is none of their business. Don't mention the other man or woman if there is one and don't try to lay the blame on your spouse. The children are the ones who will be hurt the most by telling them all the adult details.
Explain What Things May Change:
Prepare the children for other changes that may occur as a result of the divorce. They may have to move to a new house or change schools. They may not like all the changes that may happen, but they will adjust better if it's not unexpected.
Be Open And Honest:
There will be lots of questions. Some of them may be very uncomfortable, but always answer them openly, honestly, and age appropriately. This will help to foster trust at a time when they need it most.
Don't Give False Hope:
Children of all ages almost always want their parents to work things out and get back together. Don't give them false hope. If the relationship is done, let them know that you did everything that you could to make it work, but that it is time to move on. They may act out, not in retaliation, but as a way to try to regain control. Be patient, but be firm.
Even though this will be a difficult conversation to have, it can be done in a way that is constructive and age appropriate. Be honest and open, but don't use negative statements. Always remember to put the children and their well being first.