How to Talk to Your Children When You Get Divorced

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Getting through a divorce can be challenging, but it becomes even more strenuous when there are children involved. Although parents deal with plenty of emotional and mental turmoil in most cases, children often need additional comfort and guidance to properly deal with the emotions they are feeling. Knowing how to talk to your children when you get a divorce can help with coping, releasing emotions and getting to know how your kids truly feel about the situation.

Assess the Circumstances

Before you can begin talking to your children about the divorce you are facing, it is absolutely necessary to assess the circumstances and the current family dynamic within the home. Whether you are amicably splitting from your spouse or if there has been physical and verbal abuse leading to the separation, it is important to note these circumstances before you sit down to speak to your children individually. Consider your children and their ages as well as their relationships with both you and your current spouse. Understanding the dynamic of all relationships within the home will help you create a plan that is right for your entire family.

Be Sure to Include Your Former Spouse

Although it may be challenging or nearly impossible, it is vital to include your spouse with your children and with the future planning for your current family. It is essential to have both parents available for support during the process, as it can often drag on for months or longer depending on when you have chosen to get divorced and the age of your children.

Talking openly and honestly with your spouse is key to coming up with talking points and to determine the best course of action when it comes time to tell the children. Consider everything you want to say to your children, and be sure to talk it over with your spouse before you begin speaking one on one or holding a family meeting.

Consider Your Children and Their Personalities

It is also important to consider each one of your children’s personalities individually. Each child in a family household is likely to react to the divorce differently, some acting out and others acting as if they are relieved to see the turmoil end. It is important to take note of how your children behaved during arguments and other issues you and your spouse may have experienced with one another in the past and/or in front of the children.

Talk One on One

Talking one on one with each of your children is highly recommended to avoid bombarding all of them at once with the information and news about the divorce. Speaking with your oldest child can help to ensure you are giving him a more mature, nuanced approach.

Be sure to inform each one of your children that the divorce is not a reflection of them or any behavior they may have exhibited. It is also important to reassure each one of your children one on one that you and your spouse still love them, and that this does not change the relationship they have with each of you.

Have a Family Sit-Down

Have a family sit-down with all of your children and your spouse. Hosting a family meeting can help clear the air and show your children the family unit as a whole is still available for the support they will need going forward. You and your spouse should know what you want to say and how you want to announce the divorce. Discuss ahead of time who will speak first and how the issue will be brought up to the kids.

Sitting down with the entire family is also a way for you to get your children more involved in the conversation rather than having them shut down emotionally. Some children may respond with apathy, others with rage or sadness. Preparing yourself for how your children may react can help you come up with various methods of diffusing the situation based on each one of your children’s personalities.

Although divorces are extremely emotionally painful, it is possible to navigate the minefield. The more openly you communicate with your children and how the divorce is affecting them during all stages of the process, the more likely you are to effectively help them cope during this traumatic time.

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