How To Talk To Children About Divorce
When you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, or if one of you has already filed for divorce in Atlanta, one of the most difficult aspects of this process will be telling your children about the divorce. Regardless of the age of your children—whether they are young children in pre-school, elementary school, teenagers in high school, college age or adult—it is important to make a plan for informing them about your impending divorce. How should you tell your children about the divorce? The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations for how to talk to your children about your divorce plans, and our Atlanta divorce attorneys want to help you as you develop strategies for speaking with your children.
Recognize that Children of Different Ages Will Have Different Questions and Concerns
Before you sit down to talk with your children about your divorce, it is important to recognize that children of different ages will have different types of questions and concerns about the divorce. Younger children likely may not have the capacity to understand the nuances of a divorce and may need reassurances about their family life and relationships with both parents. Teenagers and older children may want to know specific details about the divorce, including why their parents are getting divorced, what the divorce will mean for their day-to-day lives, how this may affect them financially (will they still be able to get a car, go to college, pay for a wedding, etc.). Accordingly, planning to talk with your children will require specific strategies based on the ages of your children.
Speak with Your Children Together If Possible
If you are able to work together with your spouse, it is often helpful to speak with your children together. You can show your children that you have the capacity to co-parent, and that both you and your spouse will be central to their lives after the divorce. If that is not possible, be prepared to explain why (in a non-adversarial way) you and your spouse are not telling them together. Some examples are: it is better for us to not be in the same room right now so we can avoid unnecessary fights with each other; it is difficult for us to speak with each other using kind words so it is best for us to not be in the same room because we wanted this time to focus on you and not our squabbles, etc.
Plan to Provide Reassurances
While some children may need of affection and reassurance, many children need reassurance when news of a divorce breaks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents emphasize that both parents love the children, that both parents will continue to love the children, that the children will continue to receive love and affection from both parents, that the parents will continue to play an important role in the children’s lives and that the parents will be happier living as co-parents rather than as a married couple. Of course, these things need to be tailored to your particular circumstances as some circumstances do not warrant such things to be said.
Give Your Children Space to Ask Questions
Your children are likely to have many different questions about the divorce, and it is important to show them that their reactions are taken seriously and that their questions are important. You should be prepared to answer your children’s questions honestly but at an age-appropriate level. For example, you should be prepared to address concerns or questions from your children about whether they are at fault for the divorce, whether they could have kept their parents together, and whether they will still have both parents in their lives. You should also be prepared to answer logistical questions about two separate households, parenting schedules, school and extracurricular activities. There may be questions that you cannot answer – that’s okay; be honest about that. Keep in mind, it is typically inappropriate to share the details of the reasons for the break-up with your children. your children may not know what to ask or how to ask it. Also, there may be questions that you.
Contact an Atlanta Divorce Attorney
If you have any questions about divorce or need assistance with your divorce, one of our Atlanta divorce lawyers can assist you. Contact Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French for more information.