If you’re undergoing a divorce, you’re potentially worried about the effect on the kids. It may be a challenging time for them. The emotions of children might go through changes and stages. Your children might feel confused, sad, guilty, angry, or concerned with what is going to happen to them. How you react and deal with these changes is important both to the family dynamic and to your youngster’s well-being.
What should you tell the kids about your separation and divorce?
Think it through first and prepare how you’ll talk to your kids about what is going on in your household now and what may happen in the future. Children are most fearful of the unknown. If possible, it is best for both parents to talk with your children together in a neutral setting. Be truthful and honest when giving them the facts and try to keep your emotions in check. Young children will require less information. Older kids may request more details.
Most importantly, reassure your children that you both love them and will always continue to love and care for them. Let them to know that no one is disappearing from their life and they will be spending time with both of their parents on a regular basis.
Breaking up a family is a very difficult concept for most children to understand. Be clear that the children aren’t the cause of your separation. This change is between you and your spouse/partner. Younger kids may be concerned that it’s their fault and that they’re to blame for your divorce or separation. Explain that it’s an adult issue and there wasn’t anything the kids could have done to prevent it. It’s also important that they understand that there isn’t anything they, or anyone else may do to change this situation and that your separation and divorce is final.
Encourage your children to openly discuss their feelings and listen and respond carefully and honestly. It is normal for children to experience problems expressing themselves, therefore, have patience. Although it might be hard, it is important that you allow them to be truthful about their concerns and fears. If children are uncomfortable speaking with you, or acting out, find a professional to assist in this life changing event, like a social worker, counselor, or psychologist with experience helping children through a divorce.
Inform the kids only of what is necessary. Do not argue in front of the children or talk about adult decisions. They should not be a part of any meetings with an attorney or other people involved with the divorce or separation.
What can you do to make this transition easier?
Talk about arrangements for visitation prior to suggesting your plan to the kids. As you finalize the plans, openly discuss how the living arrangements are going to change. Be clear as to who the kids will reside with and when. Your children have a right to understand the decisions being made on their behalf. Keep in mind that plans might have to change as they age. Teens and older child may have a preference as to where they live. Be willing to respect their feelings.
Keep schedules and activities as normal as possible. Kids feel more confident and safe if they understand what to expect. Work toward developing common schedules for both households to abide by. If there’s more than one child involved, each parent should spend some quality time with each of them.
Follow all court ordered rules and requirements. Do not speak negatively about the other parent to your friends, extended family, or especially the children. If you’re having trouble with your own emotions and feelings, locate a supportive counselor or friend to talk to. You might discover it’s useful to establish “ground rules” while speaking to the other parent. Be very polite and respectful when the kids are dropped off or picked up. If you’re reassuring and loving, it might assist them in coping with this transition.
Allow your youngster to speak with the other parent if he/she wants to. Attempt to display interest in the time spent with their other parent. Do not suggest with actions or words that a child is disloyal if they enjoy the time spent away from you with their other parent.
Discuss discipline and rules with the other parent in order for you to be as consistent as you can in both households. Always respect reasonable limitations established by the other parent. Do not undermine their authority or reverse decisions they’ve made. You may no longer be spouses, but you are still parents raising your children together.
Communicate directly with the other parent. Do not expect your children to act as messengers. They should not be expected to be “spies” and provide details on the other parent’s home, income, friends, or activities.
Your children might feel as if their relationship with other extended family, like grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins is also changing. Recognize those feelings and encourage both your children and relatives to keep these connections.
About Planta & Satin Law
Attorneys’ Bill Planta and Wendy Satin practice Family Law and Criminal Defense Law. Together they bring a wealth of trial experience coupled with calm, straightforward approaches and keen legal acumen to Planta Satin Law. Mr. Planta and Ms. Satin are regarded as two of the best lawyers in the State of Maryland.
Mr. Planta and Ms. Satin bring their vast trial experience and empirical knowledge to the table, whether the job is big, or small. All cases are “big” to the person at risk, or experiencing the breakdown of their family, and they deserve to have someone with a thorough and realistic grasp of the law, and judicial system, helping them in their time of need.
Separation and divorce is most often hardest on your children. For more information about contact Planta & Satin Law located in the Washington, DC metro area, serving clients in Maryland and DC, at 877.279.6700 or visit our website: www.plantasatinlaw.com.