Key Steps to Handling Divorce With Children

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Divorce is hard on everyone, but the littlest people often suffer the most when a separation is handled immaturely or improperly. With divorce becoming commonplace in modern society, much research has been conducted concerning divorce with children. Experts agree that communicating openly, expressing love, and listening to your kids are key to helping your little ones through this difficult transition.

Communicate Simply and Honestly

Different children will have vastly different understandings of divorce. Explaining what divorce is, in language your offspring can understand is the first step. Do not give kids unnecessary details about your disagreements, finances or other problems. Be honest about the effort you’ve put into trying to repair your marriage, and then state your plans simply.

Tell the children which parent will move out, where they will live and how often the kids will get to visit. You will probably find it challenging to work as a team in talking with your kids, but make an effort to break the news with both parents present, so that everyone hears and understands the same story. Be sure to choose a time when you won’t feel rushed and when you can be available to your child for emotional support afterwards.

Refrain From Blaming

It is likely that you have a long list of complaints against your spouse, but your children are the wrong audience for voicing your concerns. Children inherently view themselves as a product of both of their parents. Criticizing or blaming a spouse for the divorce, may cause children to internalize that reproach, which triggers major self-esteem issues and prolongs the grieving process.

Explain Lifestyle Changes

Handling a divorce with children often means major lifestyle shifts for everyone. Be frank about living arrangements, visitation schedules and family gatherings. Extended families often play a role in the lives of your kids, so be sure to discuss how those relationships will or won’t change after the separation.

Express Love and Listen

Most importantly, tell your child that you love them and that your spouse loves them also. To help kids successfully navigate the confusion of emotions and adjustments, you must listen to their concerns, give honest answers and repeatedly reassure them of your devotion. Avoid telling them you “fell out of love” with your spouse. Instead explain that you made this decision mutually, with the best interest of the family in mind. Give your children plenty of time to ask questions on a regular basis. Express understanding when they confide their emotions, and always reassure them of your love.

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