Divorce can be a traumatic experience for both spouses after a once-loving relationship disintegrates. A split can lead to overwhelming disappointment, anger and anxiety over the future. Those feelings are also intense for children when their parents decide to go their separate ways.
Kids will have many questions, such as where they will live, where they’ll go to school and whether they’ll have to leave their friends. They’ll also wonder what will happen to them during school vacations and summer break. Perhaps most worrisome is how often they’ll be able to see BOTH of their parents.
Breaking the news requires a thoughtful approach
Parents who decide to end their marriage must be ready for these questions and ready to discuss the fears and anxiety their children will likely have. As a parent, you should consider:
- Where and how to tell your kids
- How the children will react
- How you will deal with their questions
- How much to tell them during and after the initial conversation
Avoid these common mistakes
While you may not have all the answers for your children right away, you need to reassure them and acknowledge their feelings. This may include hugs and other expressions of love and support, as well as compassion and caring feedback. Above all, make sure you don’t make some common mistakes. Here are some tips:
- Spouses should avoid fighting around children at all costs, which creates more turmoil in their lives.
- Don’t make mean or negative comments about the other parent in front of the kids.
- Don’t pressure children into making difficult choices – such as choosing between mom and dad over little or big issues.
- Don’t forget to remind them that the divorce is not their fault as children may blame themselves without that reassurance.
- Don’t confide adult information or negative feelings about your ex in an attempt to bond with your kids.
- Don’t ask your kids to spy or try to extract information about the other parent.
Take a cooperative and caring approach
Most spouses understand that the well-being of their children is their priority. Working with the other parent, anticipating your children’s concerns and fears and avoiding the mistakes above often lays the foundation for a more positive outcome.