Children are probably the most affected when a marriage ends in divorce. No matter how old they are, parents’ divorce comes as a big shock to their children. That’s why knowing how to talk to your kids about divorce the right is crucial to make sure that your children process this change as easily as possible.
It is extremely important for parents to explain divorce to a child. This is probably one of the most difficult conversations that any parent might have to have with their kids. Explaining love, marriage, companionship and its complexities to a young child is not simple. Yet, it’s something that needs to be done well before you set the legal process of separation in motion.
If that’s something you’re struggling with right now, we’re here to tell you how to talk to your kids about divorce with sensitivity and patience.
How To Tell Kids About Divorce?
Divorce and children make for a challenging combination to navigate. To really minimize the impact, some parents try to circle around the conversation and beat about the bush leaving kids puzzled and confused. Others perhaps give away too much information about the divorce, leaving the children feeling hurt and appalled.
Often, it’s a lack of clarity on striking that fine balance between information and too much information that leaves parents puzzled about how to talk to kids about divorce.
Kids are impressionable and every single thing that we tell them goes a long way in developing their personalities. So when talking to kids about divorce and explaining this massive change to them, you have to stay calm, collected and objective.
Here are some tips if you need help with how to talk to kids about divorce and break the news to them in the least jolting way possible:
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1. Talk to your children together
Experts have suggested that both parents need to sit down together to tell their children about the decision to get divorced. You don’t want the child to grow biased toward one parent and be resentful of the other. It is important that both parents emphasize the fact their love for the child(ren) hasn’t changed.
The children need to realize that their family values are intact and even though the parents are not romantically involved anymore, they are indeed a family unit that will stay together and look out for each other. The answer to how to talk to kids about divorce becomes less confusing when you focus on showing them that you will never stop being a loving family.
2. Don’t blame each other
Regardless of whose fault it may be, you must always avoid blaming each other when explaining divorce to your children. It is best to keep your words neutral and blame-free. There is no need to make your child feel the need to choose sides.
If you reveal too much about the cause of your divorce, your child will develop ideas in their own head and pick sides. If you want to talk to your kids about divorce the right way, do not start blaming or get into a huge fight in front of them. Sort your differences separately and try to be calm and collected in front of your kids.
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3. Keep your facts basic
How to talk to kids about divorce? Well, do not slip in too many details. When you want to talk to children about divorce, experts suggest telling your children simple and basic facts. Both parents need to talk calmly, explain the facts in a logical manner. Do not add emotions to the mix because this will only further confuse the child.
Keeping things to the point will not let your child’s mind wander off and overthink little things. Be sensitive to your children and use simple words. Something like, “Your mother and I want different lifestyles” is much better than saying “I don’t agree with how your mother likes to live or the things she believes in”.
4. Plan out the discussion
Before you break the news, it is important that both parents are prepared about how to talk to kids about divorce. Anticipate questions that they may ask because they certainly will. No matter how difficult these questions may be, think about how you will respond to them.
Talking to kids about divorce is not easy because children will often come up with a lot of questions that will indeed blindside you. In a fit, you do not want to say the wrong thing and cause life-long trauma to your child. Plan out the conversation beforehand to keep things as smooth as possible.
5. Make your discussion age-appropriate
Modify the details you give to your child, depending on their age. Young children are more likely to accept the situation without many questions. Older children may be able to accept the harder truths but it is best to avoid getting into negative details. How to talk to kids about divorce is also about understanding what to reveal and what not to.
For example, if your partner has been having extramarital affairs, think about if it is really important for your kid to know that. How to tell kids about divorce? Start by eliminating the most hurtful details and keep the conversation as light as it can be.
6. Managing joint custody of children
Sharing the custody of children after divorce is not always easy to manage. You need to coordinate with someone with whom you may no longer see eye-to-eye on various issues. However, managing joint custody of children can be done with a little bit of cooperation, respect, and control over emotions. Explain to your kids what this means and how they will be spending time with their parents.
When talking to your kids about divorce, remember their lives are going to turn on their heads as well and they deserve to know what really is happening to them.
A child needs to know that he is still secure and loved, despite his parents going through a divorce. When you are explaining your divorce, tell them that this only changes how you live and operate but that you will all still continue to be a family.
At every age. When talking to children about divorce, you have to know that they will be sad, surprised, shocked and will have a million concerns. Younger children usually overthink it less but it still remains on their minds. It is much more difficult to break it to teenagers and older kids.
Divorce is much tougher when there are kids involved. However, as long as you keep the kids out of the messy bits, show them that you love them consistently, it should all be okay.