Published On: Mon, Feb 26th, 2018

How to approach children about divorce

Divorce can be an acrimonious, ugly and stressful ordeal for adults and has the potential to be even worse for any children caught in the crossfire. Even if a separation occurs on good terms most children, especially if they are very young, will have trouble coming to terms with this important life decision.

For young children who can’t grasp all the complex reasons for a separation, they struggle to see why it’s necessary. Even worse, many children will recall the day they were told of their parents intention to divorce and it can be a very traumatic memory for them.

While a married couple may grow to resent each other, they almost always still love their children and should at least find common ground in approaching them in the right way. While there a few ways to sugar-coat a divorce for children there are some general tips that are worth following.

Let’s look at some tips on how to approach children about a divorce. Those going through a divorce should seek the help of a reputable family law firm.

photo/ Tumisu via pixabay

Don’t put the burden on older children

If you have multiple children it’s likely that they are all different ages. Many parents in this circumstance might choose to reveal the news to the oldest child first, expecting them to handle it better.

While they may be more mature in understanding the issue, forcing them to live with this secret while their siblings are blissfully ignorant isn’t a good idea. They could reveal the news to their siblings in a way that isn’t accurate or worse have their mental well-being affected.

Explain it simply, but honestly

The explanation to the child or children should be done in terms appropriate to their understanding and maturity. This means speaking in terms the child will understand and answering any questions they have honestly.

Many school aged children will have friends or peers they know have divorced parents and therefore would have a basic understanding of what it meant. In many ways knowing friends who have had their parents’ divorce makes the revelation slightly easier for children to cope with as they know they are not alone.

Ideally, there would already be a plan or at least some idea on how visitation will work. It’s important that the child or children know that they will still regularly see their parents in spite of the split.

A failure to plan the future of parental visitation may require you to seek the help of an accredited family law firm in order to mediate the issue.

If the child has seen their parents argue a lot, then it might be useful to frame the discussion as an end to those arguments. The explanation of the divorce should be based on the real world evidence that the child has witnessed so that they can understand it better.

Make sure they understand it’s not their fault or responsibility

Once they become aware of the divorce, many children begin to look for reasons as to why it’s happened. A young child will have less to go on and may end up blaming themselves, even if they don’t reveal it to you.

According to The Norton Group the local family lawyers in Sydney, it is important to disclaim that the divorce has nothing to do with the child or their behaviour. It’s also important to make sure that they don’t think it’s their responsibility to repair your marriage.

Don’t make the child choose sides

Often if the custody of children is in dispute, parents will become very bitter and manipulative regarding their children. Parents will often try to turn the children against the other parent to give them a better chance of gaining custody.

Not only is this tactic completely unethical, but it’s ineffective in courtrooms. Judges dealing in custody hearings are very aware of when a child has been trained to give certain responses and will harshly condemn any parent caught doing it, worsening their chances of gaining custody.

All good family lawyers will have practitioners who specialise in mediation and can help disputing parents come to a custody agreement outside of court.

Author: Colin Steinway

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