Telling children about an impending separation or divorce may be one of the most difficult conversations parents must have during the process.
With the right planning and approach, parents can use these conversations to help their children process the changes that a divorce will bring in their lives.
Telling children about a divorce
When the time comes for parents to break the news that they will be divorcing, Psychology Today recommends the entire family come together. Parents should select a time for the family meeting that allows children to receive answers to their questions without the need to rush or cut the conversation short.
Parents should be careful not to place any blame on each other or imply that the divorce might be because of something one of the children did. Describing to the children what parts of their lives will remain the same may help provide a sense of stability as many other things change.
Continuing the conversations with each child
As explained by Today’s Parent, children process and understand a divorce differently based upon their age and developmental stage. With younger children such as preschoolers, parents should expect to repeat facts and conversations multiple times. The focus should be on tactical elements of their daily lives, such as who will pick them up from school.
As children get older, their ability to express emotions and understand some of the nuances of divorce grows. Parents should encourage their preteens and teenagers to ask questions and share their feelings.
Signs of anxiety or anger may appear in older children. Pushing parents away could be an indication of craving attention, so parents should consider that their children may need more discussion and positive reinforcement rather than the space they appear to be asking for.