One of the hardest parts of starting the divorce process is telling your children about your decision. There’s no single way that works perfectly for every situation, and even the best ways for discussing this grown-up topic can still leave lasting damage, no matter how perfectly you lay out the situation. However, since not telling your children about your divorce is more or less impossible as well as impractical, you’ll have to find the way that’s best suited to discuss this case with your children. Here are a few valuable tips for telling your kids about divorce.
Be Thoughtful of the Setting
A divorce is not a bombshell you want to just drop randomly at any time. It’s a big deal that will dramatically impact your family, including your children for the rest of their lives. Children never forget when they found out their parents were getting a divorce, so make sure hearing the news isn’t an unexpected and painful bombshell; make sure it’s at a place where they can comfortably handle the bad news.
Tell the Whole Family Together; No Keeping Secrets
Some parents have tried a strategy of telling the oldest child who then has to keep it secret from the younger siblings. This can breed resentment with the younger children and give the oldest child the added stress of hiding things. It never really works out. Your best bet is to gather all of your children together and tell them all at the same time. That way no child feels left out or like they’re being held responsible for the divorce.
Don’t Assume How Your Kids Will React
Some kids react positively to a divorce, knowing that the tense hostility in the home will end. Others are devastated, wishing that things would stay the same. Others feel a mixture of positivity and negativity. It can be difficult, if not impossible to tell how your kids will react so don’t try to predict it. Nor should you try to influence how children will react; let them do so naturally.
Don’t Drag Out Your Divorce
The worst thing you could do is keep your kids caught up in a long and arduous legal battle that seemingly never ends. While California law requires that a divorce last at least six months, you can still do everything in your power to bring everything to an end before then to alleviate the stress. While a divorce is still being negotiated or litigated, there is still an abundance of uncertainty that swirls around children, making them uneasy and straining them emotionally. The faster you can bring your case to a close, the better.
Be Supportive & Honest
Attempting to alleviate pain and emotional turmoil by saying “everything will be okay” rarely works with the type of stress that a divorce can bring. After all, your marriage is ending, so everything is changing from what your children have known up to this point. Instead, let your children react how they will and simply be upfront and honest with them when they have questions. Keeping secrets breeds contempt during this process, so you’ll want to keep your kids involved as much as you feel is right.
Take Responsibility; Don’t Alienate
The last thing you should do is attempt to blame the other parent or any other party for the divorce. Children often feel better when they learn the divorce is not their fault, and often that means figuring out whose fault it actually is. It can be hard to explain to them that nobody is really at fault, but the last thing you want to do is make any of them feel at fault or make them think you are blaming the other parent. Doing so and attempting to breed contempt for the other part is called “parental alienation,” and is highly illegal.If you are considering a divorce and need assistance with the process, contact the San Diego divorce attorneys at Moore, Schulman & Moore, APC. Dial (858) 492-7968 to schedule a case evaluation.