5 tips for telling your children about your divorce
On behalf of Jamie Hodges
Parents in North Carolina going through a divorce should know how to appropriately break the news to their children.
Parents in North Carolina going through a divorce understandably have concerns about how to break the news to their children. According to an article from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there is a significant problem in the way parents are failing to prepare children for the upcoming changes. It states that a study found the following:
- Twenty-three percent of affected children are told nothing about divorce.
- In only 17 percent of cases did the parents talk to the child or children together.
- Approximately 45 percent of children who were told about the separation received very little information.
Further, only 5 percent of the children in the study were able to ask their parents questions.
The good news is that parents are in complete control of ensuring their children are informed and their concerns are addressed, which helps the children deal with the end of their parents’ marriage. Below are some tips to guide those conversations:
1. Talk as a family
Whenever possible, parents should talk to the children together about the divorce instead of separately. Kids often have anxiety about the separation that is about to take place. When parents break the news together, it presents a united front that is often assuring to children.
2. Be honest, but not candid
Older children especially are able to tell when a parent is not being honest. They may ask questions as to why the divorce is happening or which parent they will live with. To a point, parents should be upfront with information. However, the details of why the marriage is ending do not need to be shared, especially if it involves infidelity or other sensitive issues. Instead, parents may respond to children with answers such as, “We still love you, but we are no longer in love with each other.”
3. Be prepared for any reaction
Each child may respond differently to the news of the divorce. Some may become angry, others may be sad, others may appear withdrawn or even indifferent. Each of these emotions is normal. However, parents should keep an eye on any out-of-the-ordinary behavior that could indicate the child is not handling the situation well. If there are red flags, parents should seek help.
4. Consider counseling
In addition to the parents themselves perhaps needing individual counseling to cope with the changes, children may also benefit from working with a professional. There are family therapists who help children process their emotions and adjust to their new situation.
5. Avoid negative talk
Lastly, parents should refrain from speaking poorly about each other in front of or to the children. In most cases, children benefit from a positive relationship with each parent. Trying to paint each other in a negative light ultimately harms the child.
In addition to the children, there are many other questions and concerns that the end of a marriage creates. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a family law attorney in North Carolina.