Having “The Talk”
Perhaps one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of getting divorced is having “the talk” with your children. The family dynamic is changing, and understandably, each person is going to have a different reaction. Some younger children may not even realize what’s happening, while teens may react with anger or detachment.
To make it easier on you as a parent when the time comes, we’ve broken down our top five tips for handling this discussion.
Reassure Them That It’s Not Their Fault
Most children only know of marriage from what they see in the home or in movies. From the outside, it can look like everything is perfect. However, even if you’ve been doing a good job at hiding the tension, children will inevitably think they had something to do with the divorce.
First and foremost, this reaction is completely normal. Most children will turn introspectively and think about what they could have done — this is just a natural gift of empathy. The best way to navigate this scenario is to reassure them that this decision is not because of them and that you both will love them unconditionally, regardless of whether you are married or not.
Be Honest, But Don’t Blame
It is perfectly okay for you to be upfront with your children about why you are getting divorced. But this is not the time to air out each other’s dirty laundry. These conversations need to be grounded in compassion for your child(ren) and one another, regardless of how it’s ending. Remember, how you speak about your spouse during a divorce can impact a custody decision and your child’s emotional state, so know when to draw the line.
Be Clear About Changes Happening
Divorce comes with lots of change — that’s no secret. This is something you should make clear when having the talk with your kids. Are you relocating? Will one parent have sole custody? How does this affect school and activities? These are all things that need to be discussed.
Make sure you let them know what’s staying the same, too. They will likely be looking to this sense of normalcy to cope when the changes come.
Plan to Have the Conversation Together
If it’s safe to, try to have this conversation as a family. The parents should plan out what they are going to say in advance, so there are no surprises with what gets brought up in the conversation. Having this talk together helps reassure the children that you are committed to putting them as a priority above your marital issues.
Be Open to Questions
Divorce can be a tough and confusing process for children, no matter their age. Be open and willing to answer any questions they may have, and be honest if you don’t have a solid answer right away. This news may take a long adjustment period, so prepare yourself for ongoing conversations with your kids.
Need Help? Call a Family Law Attorney
Law Office of Alexandra White, PC has been helping Colorado families navigate the divorce process for many years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is highly respected in the field and offers a compassionate approach to each case. If you are seeking representation for your divorce process, call (303) 647-4245 to schedule a free consultation.