Divorce rocks the foundation of a family held together by both parents. Children are the most susceptible to the negative consequences of divorce. The reason for this is because they naturally lack the understanding and maturity to see a permanent separation in a healthy way.
It is important as parents to approach the conversation of divorce, new living arrangements, and how life will be expected to look afterwards with your children in a calm and considerate manner. If possible, come together in agreement on the reality they will face and remain open to hearing their questions and being emotionally authentic in response to the news.
Here are some simple tips on what to do and how to approach the divorce conversation with kids:
- Bite-size information—If you can, try to have a plan of what information you would like to share and how much. When you offer the truth in small pieces, your children can have time to adjust rather than feeling overwhelmed with all the facts streaming down the pipeline. For example, consider planning to reveal the changes in full within a span of a week or two. Begin by only discussing one topic at a time throughout the week(s).
- Create an atmosphere of authentic conversation—Let your children know that they are free without guilt or shame to express their emotions about the situation. Children (and adults) who suppress their feelings wind up with depression from pent-up emotions that have not been let out. The healthiest thing you can do is make your children feel safe, loved and secure while letting out their sincerest emotions and feelings about the divorce.
- Discuss the changes and the things that will last forever—There are many changes that you will want to address to your children. This may include living arrangements, holidays and travel. However, don’t forget to remind your children of all the things that are not going to change. The things that will last forever are important to highlight during this time of uncertainty and fear. Reassure your children of the mutual love they have and the dedication you will always have to their overall wellbeing and success.
The reality of divorce may impact each child differently. Just remember to remain accessible for children who need extra time to process the changes and contemplate their feelings about it. You may wish to seek additional support through professional counseling resources. Your effort to promote an emotionally healthy transition for your children is highly valuable. Divorce is a scary thing for children to experience and they are looking to you for guidance and support throughout the process.