How to Break the News of Your Divorce to Your Kids
When you have children, the idea of getting a divorce can be exponentially terrifying. How will your kids react? How will this change impact their mental health? What can you as a parent do to help guide them through this chapter of your lives?
These are all important questions that you may not get the answers to right away. Let’s discuss the first step: breaking the news of your Long Island divorce to your children. Here’s what you should know and where to get the legal help you need to protect your family’s best interests.
Plan Ahead of Time What You’ll Say About Divorce and How You’ll Say It to Kids
Don’t go into a conversation with your children about your divorce without thinking about what you’ll say ahead of time. What you say and how you deliver the message will likely be remembered distinctly by your child for many years, if not their entire lives. Do what you can to reduce the negative impact the news will have on your children by planning a gentle and supportive conversation.
- Make sure your reasoning doesn’t place blame on one spouse or the other. A no-fault divorce is just that — nobody’s fault. Even if one spouse did act egregiously, this isn’t usually information your kids would need to have.
- Let your children know that this isn’t their fault. Help them understand that there wasn’t anything they did or didn’t do that made you want to get a divorce.
- Only give as much information as you think is appropriate; no more, no less. You should also consider their age and curiosity level. Too little information may leave them suspicious, while too much could overwhelm or burden them.
Let Your Children Know What to Expect During & After Divorce
Children have excellent resiliency, but they often find it difficult to adapt to change. You can help them by letting them know what to expect at each stage of the divorce process. Let them know what things will change, such as going to one parent’s new home on the weekends, and what things will stay the same, like not having to change schools or extracurricular activities.
Allow Your Children to Feel Their Emotions
Whatever feelings your child has about the divorce are valid and it’s important that you help them understand this. Children often feel much bigger emotions than they are capable of handling, particularly when they’re new and strong emotions like grief and fear.
Reassure your child that how they’re feeling is normal and that it’s okay to be sad, angry, or uncomfortable. Seeing your child hurt is painful to any parent, but it’s important that you don’t push them to “cheer up” or “see the bright side.” This invalidates their emotions and can cause mental health issues later on in life. Instead, remind them that they are able to tolerate this distress while they learn how to manage it and the next time they feel like this, they will better understand what to do.
Invite Your Kids to Ask Questions About Your Divorce
Your children are a part of the divorce process too, as much as it may be hard to admit. They’ll be involved in things like child custody, especially if they’re older. Let your kids know that you are open to answering questions within reason and give them space to ask. If they seem uncomfortable on the spot, let them know they can ask you anytime.
For very shy children, you may want to consider putting out a box with a pen and paper that your child can write questions or notes on for you to read later and possibly also respond to in writing. Or if you text each other, a separate thread just for the divorce can help keep communication open in a more casual-feeling way.
Contact a Long Island Divorce Lawyer Before Breaking the News to Your Kids
Don’t underestimate the value that an experienced Long Island divorce attorney can have even before you start the formal process of dissolving your marriage. Reaching out to a lawyer before you tell your children that you’re getting a divorce can help you get a better understanding of what will happen next so you can then better communicate that to your kids.
Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today for a consultation by dialing 631-923-1910 or filling out the short form on this page.
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