If your marriage has broken down, you may be considering divorce, although this decision can be a difficult one if you and your spouse have children together. While you may feel that it would be better to stay together for the sake of the children, this may ultimately not be in their best interests, since being exposed to conflict between parents can cause a great deal of stress for children. If you do decide to pursue a divorce, you will want to ensure that your children understand how their lives will change while assuring them that they will have your love and support moving forward.
Things to Remember When Talking to Children About Divorce
Telling your children that you and your spouse will be getting a divorce could result in a variety of strong emotions, including sadness, confusion, and anxiety. One of the very first reactions a son or daughter will have is the belief that he or she is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. By assuring children that they were not at fault for the divorce in any way and explaining the situation in a way they can understand, you can help relieve a great deal of stress and anxiety. When discussing divorce with your children, it is important to:
Keep the conversation appropriate.
Avoid any inconsistent messages from you or your spouse.
Refrain from placing blame on the other spouse.
Avoid sharing any inappropriate information with your child.
Expect mixed emotions from the child.
Be available for your child, answer questions, and provide support.
While these guidelines can apply to almost any scenario, the ways in which you discuss your divorce will likely change based on the number of children and their ages. For example, if you have a teenager and a young child, it might be best to talk to each child separately so the situation can be discussed in an age-appropriate manner. However, if children are closer to the same age, it may be better to discuss the divorce with them at the same time.
The emotions you display while sharing this information with your child could have a direct result on their reaction. This is a conversation that will resonate with the child for the remainder of their lives. For example, if you are very frustrated and angry when telling your son or daughter about your divorce, your child will be more likely to mimic your behavior. Trying to remain calm and providing reassurance that you will continue to be a loving presence in their lives can help them address the difficult emotions they will be likely to experience.
When children learn that their parents are getting a divorce, they may feel alone, or they may struggle with anxiety or depression. It can be beneficial for children to speak to a counselor, and this will provide them with an open outlet where they can express their feelings and receive help from an outside party. It is also important to remember that before, during, and after your divorce, you should continue acting as a parent rather than relying on children for emotional support. You may also want to consider seeing a therapist to work through the emotional difficulties you are experiencing during your divorce.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
If you have chosen to end your marriage, discussing your divorce with your children can be one of the most difficult aspects of the process. While every divorce is different, seeking the advice of an experienced attorney can help you determine the best course of action to take, and by addressing child custody issues, you can ensure that you will be able to meet your children’s needs after your divorce is complete. At the Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we can work with you to reach a divorce settlement that meets your family’s needs. Contact a Wheaton, IL divorce attorney at 630-871-1002 for a free initial consultation.