For parents beginning divorce proceedings, breaking the news to your children is often the most difficult part. The life your child has become so accustomed to is about to change drastically, and likely your primary concern is how they will deal with it.
Though it can be a challenging conversation to have, it’s also one of the most important. Being part of a clear discussion in which their concerns are taken into account and their questions are answered can help ease the transition by making them feel more secure.
Use these 3 tips to help your children process the information in the most effective and healthy way possible.
Prepare for the Discussion
Work with your co-parent to the best of your ability when getting ready for the conversation. That way, you will be on the same page on how to respond to any questions and what you are planning on sharing. It also reassures the children that their parents are still able to come together as their parents.
First, discuss what you want out of the conversation. In most cases, you want children who feel comfortable to ask what they want to know and express concerns, and who still feel secure in their own relationships with their parents.
Then, prepare how you will broach the subject. This, of course, varies based on the age of the children. Young children will likely want constant reminders that they are loved, while teens may focus more on questions they have and how their own lives will change.
Finally, pick a day and time that allows for some processing. Right before bedtime or school does not allow a child to cope with their emotions. Instead, a time when both you and your co-parent are open and available is more beneficial for all involved.
Be Honest, But Don’t Overshare
In all likelihood, your children will have questions. They will want to know as much information as possible, and especially the “why” behind it all. Try not to shy away from this, and give a prepared, child-friendly, simple answer.
However, avoid including the more mature or personal details, as this could result in resentment of one parent or the other. It also could leave the child feeling they are to blame or that they need to fix the situation.
Paint a Picture of the Future
Your children will want to know, more than anything, how this change will affect their own lives. They want to know which parent(s) they will live with, if they will be moving somewhere new, and what transitions they need to anticipate.
Be sure to clearly relay any information you do have, as the more they know, the less anxiety they will have. If you don’t have all of the answers yet, be honest about it and inform them along the way.
Most importantly, reassure them that you will still maintain the same quality relationship you always had. In that regard, nothing will change.
Just as you will take time to heal, so will they. As you go through this process, continue the conversations, accept their changing emotions, and give them assurance along the way. For further counsel with all aspects of your divorce, reach out to your family law attorney in South Carolina.