If you’re facing the prospect of divorce one of the hardest things to deal with is likely how to tell your children. You worry how they’ll handle the news and fear that they will think it was in some way their fault. You may worry that they’ll lose the sense of stability they’ve come to depend on. It’s important when the time comes to sit them down that you both convey that you will still be there for them, no matter what happens in your marriage. The following are some tips on how to best handle a very difficult conversation:
• Agree on what you’re going to say
The two of you should find time to sit down before talking to the kids to decide on what you are going to say. Get your story straight so that no one contradicts each other. You don’t want to start arguing in front of the kids, you need to be a united front. If you need help communicating effectively as your relationship has broken down so far, consider going to a therapist or a religious leader who can serve as mediator.
• Tell them as a couple
If possible, you and your spouse should tell the children together, even if it’s hard. You may have a great deal of anger towards your spouse, but it’s better for the kids to put that aside and work together during this moment. Convey to them that though the marriage is ending, you will both work together and cooperate as parents. Make sure they know that you’ll both remain active in their lives.
• Be nice to each other (or at least pretend)
It’s important that when you talk to the kids that neither of you blames the other one for the dissolution of the marriage. Don’t attempt to curry favor with the kids, you don’t want to put them in the middle and make them feel like they have to choose sides. Both behaviors are unfair to your kids and can cause lasting emotional harm. It can also blow up in your face and make the child feel closer to the maligned parent.
• Be honest, but keep comments age appropriate
Be honest but remember the children’s ages when telling them the news. Avoid sharing any personal details about the split, they don’t need to know the nitty gritty details of your marriage. Tell them only as much as they need to know, no more. Don’t pretend everything will be the same, prepare them for some of the changes to come and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Make sure to explain that the divorce has nothing to do with them, this is crucial.
• Though it can be very tough, try to avoid becoming emotional
Though it is very difficult given the stress of the moment, try not to get too emotional when telling your children about the divorce. Watching a parent cry or otherwise breakdown can be scary for children, especially younger ones. Don’t add to their worry with overly dramatic behavior. You don’t want the kids to worry about you, it will only add to their stress and make them less likely to honestly tell you how they’re feeling.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, contact an experienced matrimonial lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the sometimes confusing process.
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