Talking to Your Children About Divorce Is Emotional But Critical
There are a lot of logistical and financial issues surrounding divorce on Long Island but the emotional issues are just as important, especially when there are children involved.
When a couple decides to divorce, they are often very focused on finances, division of property, and custody issues with their children. Those are all highly important, but there’s another aspect that too often gets overlooked, and lost in the shuffle. All of the emotional concerns that also come along with the decision to separate, and those emotions can strongly affect the children in the home. That’s especially true of younger children who may not understand the process and why it’s happening, but affects older children too.
Here are some things you and your spouse should consider talking to your children about to help them process any fears they have or questions they may have.
Make Sure to Give Information That’s Age-Appropriate
Especially if there’s animosity between you and your spouse, you don’t want to show that in front of your children. The stress of dissolving a marriage can sometimes make you say things you shouldn’t, which can result in giving your children information they don’t really need. Take care to reduce the risk of that, and focus on staying age-appropriate with the information you’re providing your children. Especially if they’re very young, there are details they don’t need to know about the reasons behind the divorce. Tell them what they can understand and process for their age group.
Answer Questions Honestly and Fairly When Children Ask
Even though you want to give age-appropriate answers, you also don’t want to deflect or avoid questions. Children need to be able to understand the world around them, and when they ask questions they need you to help them get answers that are honest and truthful. You can keep some details out, or reduce the amount of information you provide, but you shouldn’t lie to your children about why a divorce is taking place. Protecting them matters, and part of that is providing them with the information they need to process things in a healthy way so the present doesn’t damage their future.
Explain to Your Children How the Process Will Go
The more children understand about what’s going to take place in the divorce process, the more they can work through their own feelings about it. You may not know everything about the process, and that’s all right, too. Tell your children the things you do know about the timeline, where they will live, and other factors. When you aren’t sure about something, be honest with them and say that. Don’t tell them what you think or hope will happen, because you may have to disappoint them later if you make promises that are then changed by court decree or other complications.
Address Any Fears Your Children Express During the Process
Children are going to have fears and concerns about their parents going through a divorce. That’s natural and understandable. You don’t want to put off those fears or try to minimize them, because your children need to be able to process their emotions. They may cry more than normal, have nightmares, act out, or otherwise seem different as they work through everything that’s changing in their lives. By addressing and acknowledging their fears, your children will feel safe with you and understand that they can come to you, both now and in the future, with concerns they have about the divorce (and anything else).
Keep Things Civil In Front of Kids, Even When Stress is High
It’s not always easy to stay civil when going through a divorce. Depending on the reasons the divorce is taking place and the temperaments and personalities of the people involved, anger can be expected. But when you’re around your children, keeping things civil is highly important. You aren’t required to be friendly with your spouse, but you definitely should be polite and civil to them.
Your children are counting on you and their other parent to get them through this, and to raise them in an environment that’s healthy, safe, and comfortable. The more you work toward a better life for yourself and your children, the better off everyone involved will be in the long run. Getting a divorce is a difficult process, but moving through it in a healthy way can make it much easier for your children.
Have Questions About How to Talk to Your Children About Divorce?
If you have questions about the divorce process on Long Island or need help talking to your children about your divorce, our Long Island Divorce & Family Law Firm can help. Call 631-923-1910 to set up your free consultation today.
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