Should We Tell the Kids We Are Getting Divorced?
The question, should we tell the kids we are getting a divorce? has an answer in the affirmative, but that answer will have a lot of considerations attached to it. Let’s look at the how, when, what, and even where you can tell your kids you are getting a divorce.
The first consideration is the age of the children in question. Usually, the younger the child, the less information will be needed, although explaining what a divorce is may be necessary. School-age children will likely have friends whose parents are divorced, so they will be familiar with such issues as timesharing and accepting a significant other or new spouse for their parents. Hopefully, your parenting skills have been such that your children know you love them and can believe the divorce is between parents not leaving the children as well.
Teenagers and adult children may be the most difficult ages to share divorce information with. They are likely to be attached to both parents and find it hard to believe their parents will no longer be a couple. Sometimes, however, older children will have overheard arguments and even seen a parent with another person in a romantic setting, so in a sense are prepared for the final outcome.
Telling children should be done at a time and place that is quiet and comfortable. Ensure the telling isn’t when children will be hungry or need to be somewhere, such as band practice or a ball game. Be prepared for tears and questions. Both parents should be there for the telling and should keep their anger and resentments to themselves.
Children usually care deeply about both parents, and this is not the time to try to place blame. Keep voices calm and answer questions as simply as possible with only as much information as is needed. How you tell a child about divorce will often set the tone for years to come. You want to convey that a divorce is not something that will cause parents to rant and rage at each other or take their frustrations out on their children.
What to tell a child will, of course, depend on the child’s age. However, the bottom line is to let the child know they are in no way the cause of the divorce and that both parents will continue to love them. Much of what is said in the initial telling will be tested in time and need to be repeated in actions as well as words. Explain how timesharing works, so the child will understand where they will be living and how going back and forth between parents will work. Try never to lie to a child about the future. Often, especially during the divorce proceedings, there are no definite answers to a child’s questions. Be honest and tell them you don’t know yet, but you will tell them the answer when you do.
Children and divorce are never an easy subject. Talk with friends and family members about how they handled their divorce and children. You may want to see a Family Counselor and perhaps have the child seen as well. Talking with an experienced Family Law Attorney can also help with ideas. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough County in Florida or New York of Washington, DC, Attorney Grant Gisondo can help. He is Board Certified with a successful Family Law practice of over a decade. You can schedule a free, initial, in-office consultation by calling his office at (561) 530-4568. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.