The most difficult parts of divorce is that moment when you have to tell and then begin to prepare your children for the divorce. While your children may be bystanders to the decision to divorce and legal proceedings, they may suffer the consequences of the decisions they had no part in making. How you inform your children of your intent to divorce and then help them adjust to their post-divorce lives will have a lasting impact on them.
How to tell children about the divorce:
- Don’t involve them in the decision until the divorce is a certainty. There is no need to upset or worry your children them if all you are doing is “thinking about it.” The should not be involved in the decision-making process.
- Break the news of the news of the divorce with your spouse. Your talk should be free of blame and finger pointing.
- Assure the children that they are without fault for the divorce. Let them know that though you and your spouse are separating and the family structure may be changing, they still have parents who care about them.
- Spare your children the detailed reasons for the divorce. Children do not need to know of the infidelities or financial issues that caused the breakup.
- Honestly answer their questions and address their concerns, but let them understand some issues are “adult” and would be inappropriate for you to discuss with them.
- Assure them that though their mother and father have personal differences, one thing that you both agree on is your love for them. Be adamant that they have done nothing wrong and are not in any way responsible for the divorce.
How to ease the children’s post-divorce transition
- Maintain pre-divorce structure and routines. To the extent possible, maintain the pre-divorce routines, extra-curricular activities, and schedules. Structure will help maintain normality; the semblance of normality will give the children the comfort of knowing things may be okay.
2. Learn how to co-parent with your ex. If you have joint custody, you will want to make the best decisions regarding your children’s health education and welfare. Decisions made in anger or spite are generally not the best decision.
3. If you and your ex cannot co-parent, mediate your disputes with the appropriate experts. If, for instance, the issue is medical, seek out the opinion of the child’s physician. If the issues are deeper or more complex, or there is an ability to communicate or even to recognize that there is a problem, seek out the services of a parenting coordinator. This trained expert will assist you opening up lines of communication and in making appropriate parenting choices.
4. Don’t enmesh the children in your disputes, engage them as your spies or make them your messenger. Your children should not have the responsibility of delivering changes to the parenting schedule (“Tell Mom, that I can’t pick you up next Sunday”) or be asked to be your eyes and ears (“Who did Daddy go out with last night?”). The children should not be forced to pick sides. If you have a dispute with your ex, don’t make your children parties to it.
If you and your ex can agree to try an immunize the children from the divorce and put their best interests ahead of your anger, jealousy or even indifference to your spouse, your children may thrive in spite of the divorce.
If you have questions about child custody or parenting issues, contact us and let’s schedule a time to speak.