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How to Discuss Your Divorce with Your Child

Divorce is difficult for everyone in a family, but it is especially tough for children. As a parent, you want to protect your child from the uglier side of your divorce, but you also want to help him or her understand and feel better about the transition their family is going through. What should you tell your child about your divorce?

Set aside some time to speak with your child about the decision to divorce as soon as possible. Though you might be tempted to delay the conversation for a variety of reasons, it is better to share the announcement with your child sooner rather than later. Chances are your child is aware things are not alright in the home and depending on your child’s age, he or she might already be speculating about what lies ahead. You want to answer questions and create an open and honest discussion early on in the process to reduce your child’s fear and anxiety.

Share the News of Your Divorce Together

If your spouse and you can have a discussion without arguing, and you should try your best to do so, tell your child about your decision to divorce together. This reinforces the message that despite the end of the marriage, both you and your soon-to-be-former spouse will continue to act as a team when it comes to parenting.

You might want to avoid the specific details about why divorce is necessary, but you should make sure your child understands he or she did nothing to prompt the decision to change the family. If your child asks, be ready to share a few age-appropriate reasons for the divorce. It is also important to discuss where your child will live and how the changes might affect his or her schooling or neighborhood friendships. You will want to make the transition as easy as possible on your child, but if drastic changes are necessary, it is better to begin dealing with them as soon as possible.

After you and your spouse have shared your information, open the discussion for questions. Also make it clear that if questions arise in the coming days and weeks, you are happy to answer them later. Your child might be shocked or upset and need some time to process the information before feeling comfortable enough to ask questions.

Accept Your Child’s Natural Reaction

Anticipate that your child might not react as you imagine when told of the divorce. He or she could decide to blame one parent or the other, or might have very little emotional reaction at all. Children are all different and deal with change in different ways. Do not take your child’s reaction personally and try not to let his or her reaction affect your time with your child. If you feel your child is blaming you for the divorce, give him or her time to adjust. As things settle down and he or she gets use to the new family structure, chances are the confusion and hurt feelings will pass and you will be able to build a strong relationship with your child.

If you notice your child is struggling with the divorce or teachers or other family members notice a problem, consider taking your child to counseling. A professional will have the skills and experience to help your child deal with his or her emotions during this difficult time.

Divorce is tough for children, but it is easier when parents take a civil, organized approach to the process. If you would like to speak with someone about your divorce or you are looking for answers to difficult questions about ending your marriage, contact Michele Cline to schedule a consultation.

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