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Tips On Explaining Divorce To Children

Posted by Amy Hayes | Feb 08, 2022 | 0 Comments

The Big Picture

These are only some of the steps necessary to protect yourself and your family as you make this major life decision. There are numerous other things to address when you've decided to separate or end your marriage: Change the beneficiary on your insurance policies and estate plan. Consider your own health insurance policy. Obtain a copy and monitor your credit report to make sure your spouse isn't spending excessively or vindictively, making sure all bills are being paid, and that there is no negative activity on the report. The list goes on. An experienced divorce attorney like Hayes Legal Solution, PLLC can guide you through the steps of divorce, and make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's (in a legal sense). Proper preparation and handling of divorce will also help minimize emotional or financial struggle.

How Do I Explain Divorce to My Child?

Probably the only thing more painful than the recognition that your marriage is over is the thought of having to tell the children that their parents are separating. While reconciliation may be possible, children need to be informed that one of their parents will be moving out of the marital home and be psychologically prepared for the likelihood of a divorce.

It's natural for parents to feel uncertain and anxious about talking to their children about divorce, so it's best to prepare in advance what you will tell them. The way in which you and your spouse break the news to the children now will set the tone for how well the kids will deal with the divorce down the road, so knowing what can be said and done to make things easier on the children is essential.

When Should You Tell Your Child About Divorce?

If it's at all possible, you should consult with your spouse before speaking to the children in order to agree upon what exactly you will tell them. Your children need to understand why their parents are divorcing and what will happen to them. Failure to give your children this information may lead to their confusion, anxiety, and loss of trust. Do not underestimate the importance of this discussion.

While things may be tense between you and your spouse at this time, if you do not have this conversation before talking to the kids, you may wind up having it in front of them, so it would be a good idea to put your feelings aside in order to make joint decisions regarding the details you'll need to tell your children. If you and your spouse are not on speaking terms, you may want to consider consulting a counselor or mediator to help the two of you work out the details.

Ideally, you and your spouse should break the news to the children together. Telling the children about the divorce together send an important message to the kids that both of their parents are on the same page and are going to work together to take care of the family. Make an attempt to incorporate the word “we” into your discussion with the children to reinforce the notion of parental agreement.

You should have a discussion with all of the children at the same time so that each child hears the same story from mom and dad, and not a secondhand story from a sibling. The explanation for the divorce should be appropriate to the age and intellectual and emotional development of your children. When children are young, they can become confused with too many details.

While it's not necessary, or even appropriate, to share with the kids the specific details underlying the reasons for the divorce, older children usually have a more realistic understanding of their parent's marriage and will often want a more detailed explanation than the younger children, so be prepared. If your children are of different ages, share only the basic information initially, and then you can follow up with the older children later if you feel it's appropriate.

Since it's not unusual for children to blame themselves for their parent's divorce, make a specific point of repeatedly reinforcing to the children that your decision to divorce has nothing to do with them, is not their fault, and they are still deeply loved by both parents. Reassure the kids that although you and their other parent can no longer remain married, you both will continue to take care of and support them.

What to Say When Your Child Asks Why You Got Divorced

Simple explanations are best for children. Reassure the child both parents still love them. Under no circumstances, should you blame the other parent. If you do, the child will feel he or she must choose to emotionally support the parent who is more of a victim. Never share your deeply personal story.

Tips to Talk to Your Kids About Separation

  • If you or your spouse has plans to move out, notifying the children about it in advance can make it easier for them to cope. The more information that you can give your kids about where the departing parent will be living, as well as when they will be able to visit that parent, the better they will feel about the situation.
  • Post the visitation schedule in a prominent place in your home so that the children can see when they are going to visit the other parent. Taking the children to visit their parent's new residence as soon as possible can also help to relieve separation anxiety.
  • Assure your kids that you will do your best not to try and not disrupt their lives. It is best, to be honest, and direct with your children about what you know and don't know. Be extra generous with your hugs and words of love and affection, but do not promise things about the future you cannot guarantee

If you need an attorney to help navigate these issues, Hayes Legal Solutions, PLLC is here to help.  Reach out to us at 405-635-5578 or schedule your appointment now on our website.

About the Author

Amy Hayes

Hayes Legal Solutions, PLLC is owned by Amy Hayes, she is also known by some as Amy Hayes-Thompson. She has been licensed to practice law in Oklahoma since 2003. Amy started Hayes Legal Solutions to make legal services more accessible and affordable to Oklahomans. Family Law, LGBTQ Family Law, Real Estate Law, Oil &Gas Law, Small Business Contracts, and Renewable Energy Law are her primary practice areas.


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