Divorce isn’t easy on anyone. However, while you and your spouse are adults and have cultivated some resilience over the years, children have no such luxury. In fact, many kids end up so affected by it, the trauma follows them into their adult lives. It’s your duty as a parent to reduce the impact of this tragedy and to help your children get through it. And it all starts with informing your kids about the divorce.
That’s not going to be an easy conversation, and both parents have to prepare for it and deliver the news together. Here’s how you can reduce the stress of this announcement:
Explain the mechanics of the separation
Uncertainty is one of the most stressful things during a divorce, especially for kids whose world is getting seriously off-kilter with such massive changes. Therefore, you have to help them prepare and adjust to the changes by explaining exactly what those changes are going to be.
This means that before this conversation you need to create a divorce parenting plan and decide:
- Who is going to move out?
- Where will the kids live?
- Will you sell the house? If so, how and where you are going to look for new homes?
- How often and when kids are going to visit the other parent?
- What changes in the legal status will affect children and how?
There is also a great number of personal issues to be figured out, such as trips, vacations, visitation plans, and even who and when takes children to their clubs or training.
For this whole thing to go as smoothly as possible, you and your spouse should agree on an uncontested divorce. This type of legal procedure is less stressful for everyone because it doesn’t include going to court. Also, it’s cheaper and divorce is a large enough financial drain in itself, especially if you or your spouse need to find a new job after it. When you have kids, making your divorce as cheap as possible is a priority. Therefore, do your best to settle all issues without involving attorneys.
However, investing in an experienced divorce mediator might be a good idea. This expert will help you through the division of assets and custody decisions as well as advice regarding legal requirements for child support.
The most important thing is to settle all these matters, at least to hash them out generally, before you sit down to talk with your kids. This way, you’ll be able to explain to them how their lives will change and reassure them that these changes aren’t going to be a disaster.
Skimp on personal details
It’s essential to tell your children the reason why you are filing for a divorce. And it’s even more important to explain how this is not, in any way, their fault. State this explicitly and return to this matter if necessary.
Also, you have to reassure your children about their position in both of your hearts. Your kids have to know that despite you no longer living together, both of you still love them just as much. But the one thing you shouldn’t go into detail with is the reason for your divorce. Yes, you must provide it, but be concise and avoid the blame game. Children shouldn’t witness your personal drama even if there is due cause for it.
Watch your kids closely after the announcement
Everyone needs time to adjust to change and you should give your children the time to dwell on this news in peace. Some kids might want to talk to their friends or to relatives they trust. Others might become quiet and introverted.
What you should do is to watch their behavior carefully and get help if something seems to be way off or it is getting out of control. Acting out is normal in this situation, especially for teenagers. Therefore, talking to a school counselor or therapist might be necessary. Take this step if the children’s behavior changes drastically.