Letting your children know that you are planning to divorce is not an easy conversation. It is important to be prepared and to fully discuss what you are going to say with your estranged spouse. You want to share the news in the best way possible way, considering the circumstances. In this article, we will provide some things to remember as you prepare for this significant conversation.
Be Aware of Your Tone
Although it may be difficult, especially if you don’t want the divorce, both parents should try and speak calmly. If a parent loses control during the conversation, it may scare children and lead them to associate the divorce with fear or trauma. Your goal is to show that it is the best choice for everyone.
Emphasize that the Divorce Is Not Their Fault
Even if you’re fighting over child custody, you need to let them know that they are not to blame. All children tend to blame themselves on some level when they see their parents upset. They need to understand that the decision to divorce has nothing to do with their behavior.
Use Clear Language
Be careful not to confuse your children by trying to soften the blow by avoiding the words separation or divorce. This will leave the children hanging in limbo, leading to them hoping things will eventually return to the way they were. To be clear, make sure to speak in a direct way using appropriate language.
Talk to Your Children at the Same Time
If you tell younger or older siblings in a difference way or time, it may make them feel that they must keep your situation a secret. Instead, have an honest discussion with all children. Also, be careful to avoid situations where you may share the information with a grown up friend who will tell their children before you tell yours. Learning about a divorce situation as gossip from another child is embarrassing and upsetting for any child.
Provide Advanced Notice Before a Parent Moves Out and Consider Timing
It is very important to provide children with enough time to process the news of separation or divorce. However, it should not be so much time that they are in an endless anxiety-producing limbo. Give your children time to process the news. You want to avoid special days, such as a birthday, exam day or day of a significant event. Ideally, tell them when you will be spending with them and can provide support and answer any questions they may have.
Emphasize How You’ll Both Always Be There
Consider a child’s fear of abandonment. Often, young children feel if their parents divorce each other, they may divorce the children, as well. They may worry that if their parents no longer love each other, they may stop loving them too. It is important to emphasize that you both will always love and be there for them. Children need to grieve the loss of divorce, just as their parents. How they adjust is directly related to how the adults handle the change.
Demonstrate a Unified Front
Make sure you are on the same page with your ex when discussing divorce. Parents offering different explanations for what’s going on in the household leads to confusion. Witnessing a difference of opinion will make your children anxious in an already stressful situation. Agree on what you are going to say with your spouse before having the talk with your children and be careful to stay on message.
Explain to your children that although things will be different with you and your spouse, other things will stay the same. Discuss how they will still have each parent in their lives who will love them, they will go to the same school and have the same friends. Try your hardest to minimize the number of changes they need to deal with in the early stages of separation or divorce.
Contact our Morris County NJ Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation
For additional information about how to navigate your New Jersey divorce, contact the Morris County law offices of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark today at 973-828-0829 to receive a cost-free initial consultation.
To read more about talking to your children about divorce, read the following article: 10 Things To Keep In Mind When Telling Your Kids About The Divorce