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HomeDivorceKeeping the children in mind

Keeping the children in mind

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It was a difficult decision, but you and your spouse have agreed that it is time to get a divorce.  You have not told your children yet and are very intimidated by the mere idea of explaining it to them.  You, nor your husband, have even made them aware that there were problems.  You grapple with how to share this information with them without feeling as though you’re dropping a bomb on them.

This is, without a doubt, an extremely complicated situation.  You must address this very emotional topic with your children at a time when you certainly do not feel your strongest.  There are a number of ways that parents can inform children of an impending divorce, but doing it on a whim is not the best strategy.  You should only discuss this issue with your children after you, and your spouse, have discussed it at length and have a plan for addressing your children’s questions and concerns.

The first step is to talk to your spouse about the amount of information you want to share with your children.  It is important for both of you to be united on this topic, even in the midst of divorce.  The best thing parents can do for their children during this time is to remain a team when it comes to parenting.  Some parents will simply want to inform their children that they no longer feel the same way about one another, thus they cannot stay married.  Other parents will want to share more about the reasons behind the decision to split.  Whatever your decision, the children are going to ask questions and it is your responsibility to know how you will respond in advance.

It is also important to inform the children of the divorce in a calm, comfortable, familiar atmosphere.  The family and dining rooms are good choices, but eliminating distractions is integral.  Both parents need to be there, as the children will likely have questions for each.  Avoid using a tone of negativity.  Even though it may be a difficult situation, you would not be going forward with it if the positives did not outweigh the negatives.  Often, the way in which the news is framed makes an immense difference in how it is received.  It is also necessary to assure the children that the divorce has nothing to do with them.  More often than not, children of divorce report feelings that the divorce was their fault.

After making your children aware of the divorce and thoroughly processing their feelings and concerns, it is essential to keep them informed of the other changes that will be taking place.  Certainly, you or your spouse will be leaving the main family home.  Also, the children will be splitting their time between parents, as well as each parent’s extended family.  The divorce may also impact the children’s schooling, peer relationships and socioeconomic status, among other things.  It is important to talk about these changes with the children, rather than just watching the changes take place.  In processing each step of the divorce process and its implications with the children, we are reducing their anxiety and fear, as well as keeping them emotional healthy.

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