Family Law Attorney Shares Six Tips on Talking to Children About Divorce
As an experienced family law attorney, I know how to handle a divorce and all the sensitive negotiations that come with it. But over years of experience, I've come to understand something more important: how difficult it can all be on a client’s children.
The family law attorneys at Kurtz & Blum care about the welfare of your children as much as the outcome of battles on child custody and support. This is why we are sharing six tips on how parents can talk to children about divorce. Such advice may help nurture a parent's relationship with their children – even when a marriage is truly over.
1. Tell all your children
Some parents think it’s better to tell the older children first, “protecting” younger ones from the difficult truth. But doing so only burdens the older children with a little family secret, one that could later make the younger children feel untrustworthy or excluded.
So I suggest that you tell all your children about what’s about to happen, duly noting that the younger children may respond differently to the news. Today’s Parent provides an insightful age-by-age guide on how to best share with them the news.
2. Understand they will remember the moment
A divorce announcement is a very momentous life event for any child. Take care to choose the right time and place to talk with your kids – noting that this experience will likely be ingrained in their memories for life. Some counselors emphasize blocking out time for it, and avoiding dates near special occasions like birthdays or favorite holidays.
3. Take joint responsibility for the divorce
When you do have such a talk, don’t let any animosity or anger with your spouse spill over into the conversation. Research suggests that children need the impression parents are not blaming one another for separating. It helps them feel they don’t have to choose sides between the two parents.
4. Let your children react as they will
One child might respond with heartbreak, another with relief. Do not assume or dictate how they should react – or let their individual reactions affect your own decision-making. Give your children space, but offer them unconditional support.
5. Do not gloss over pain
Your children will likely have questions that require some relatively painful answers. Don’t avoid them. Just try to be honest as you can be, and don’t gloss over pain – whether it be theirs or yours. Insisting “everything will be okay” when they are not will not help your family cope.
6. Try not to drag out the divorce proceedings
Ultimately, do not let the messiness of divorce place a dark cloud over your family long after you’ve talked with your children. It might otherwise seem like their never-ending nightmare.
Let your trusted family law attorney handle the proceedings as quickly and efficiently as possible. With their assistance, you can focus on what matters most, even in the midst of divorce: doing what’s best for your children and your family.
If you are facing a difficult divorce, especially with young children, please contact an experienced divorce lawyer with Kurtz & Blum. Give us a call today at 919-832-7700 to schedule a valuable consultation.
Mom and Dad Have Something to Tell You: Six Tips for Talking to Kids About Divorce. PsychologyToday.com. May 29, 2011.