When parents are contemplating divorce, their principle concern is how their separation will affect their children. While the prospect of divorce may be frightening for many kids, the separation of their parents is something that they will be able to come to terms with over time. Hundreds of thousands of people divorce every year, and the vast majority of their children grow up to be healthy, functioning adults.
If you are planning on getting a divorce, speaking with your children in a positive way can help them adjust to their changing circumstances. With that in mind, Ashby has four tips for parents who are thinking of splitting up:
#1: Plan What You Will Say
Years from now, your children will remember how they were told of the pending split. When you and your partner decide to divorce, sit your children down and have an honest conversation with them. If possible, tell the children together in a peaceful, calm manner. Work with your spouse to determine exactly what it is you are going to say. You should avoid bringing up the adult problems in your relationship and acknowledge that you both want what’s best for your children.
#2: Tell All Your Children at the Same Time
While some parents decide only to tell their oldest children, this puts an unfair burden on their shoulders. Rather than force your child to keep secrets from siblings, have a conversation that includes all members of the family.
#3: Be Supportive and Answer Honestly
Children may experience a wide range of emotions after they learn of your divorce. They may be sad, or angry, or they may blame themselves for your problems. Reassure them that they are not the cause of your separation, and that you both still love them and will see them often.
#4: Acknowledge Your Children’s Feelings
Don’t tell your children that “Everything will be ok,” or that nothing will change, when in reality their lives will change dramatically and they may not feel ok for several weeks or even months. Instead, plan a calm response to any anticipated questions, respect your children’s feelings, and reassure them of your love. Practice by saying “I can see that you feel upset, would you please tell me what you are thinking.” Older children especially will feel more empowered and supported when their feelings are recognized.
#5: Move Quickly In Your Divorce
Only tell your children that you are divorcing once you have exhausted any attempts to reconcile. Children need consistency, and will be confused or inappropriately hopeful if they see their parents attempting to work things out.
If you do reconcile with your spouse, take it slowly and make sure that you tell your children only when your plans to divorce are permanently put on hold. No one needs to have the conversation described above more than once, and children can be incredibly hurt by failed attempts to get back together.
#6: Keep Interaction Positive
Once you and your spouse have decided to divorce, make a pact with your former partner to keep your interactions positive for the sake of your children. Do not badmouth or insult your spouse in front of them, and never use your children as messengers during uncomfortable conversations. Make it clear that while you may no longer be married, you still care for and respect each other (even if this feels like stretching the truth at times).
Children of divorce can grow up leading happy and healthy lives if their parents are honest and respectful with each other. Commit to helping your children deal with the divorce, and address any negative feelings towards your spouse with that person and through counseling rather than with your children.
If you and your spouse are having problems and are considering a divorce, remember that you will have to see your former partner at graduations, weddings, and every significant event in your children’s lives for as long as you both live. If your focus is moving on and bettering your life and the lives of your children, Pacific Northwest Family Law can help. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys offer services which include traditional divorces, collaborative divorces, legal separations, mediations, arbitrations, and many other family law agreements.
Regardless of what decision you make about your relationship, we can help you resolve your family law issues. For help with your situation, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.