Children are much more aware of emotional tension than you may realize, and not understanding what’s going on at home can upset them far more than the actual truth will. So, talk to them about your divorce as soon as you know that it’s definitely going ahead. Explain to the them about child custody and what’s going to happen so they won’t be surprised when things in their home begin to change. It’s very important they understand that your marriage not working had nothing to do with them. Children often worry that they’re losing a parent so focus on reassuring them they are still loved and the only real change will be the sleeping arrangements.
Keep it simple
Quick, simple and honest is the best approach for children and divorce. Your children’s age and reactions should be your guide as to how much detail you need to give them. No one knows your children better than you do, so go with your instincts. However, do explain to them how the divorce will affect their lives and be as truthful as possible. Often a reassurance the only change that will affect them will be sleeping arrangements can be enough to stop them needlessly worrying. If your children are very young you also need to make sure they understand what exactly the word divorce and the word child custody means.
Try not to forget your children love your partner even if you don’t, so don’t say anything bad about them. Kids will often agree with whatever you say at the time, but later they’ll be angry and scared because they feel their security has been compromised. Be sure never to say anything negative about the divorce, even if you are on the phone in a different room. You never know when small ears are intently listening.
Keep the communication lines open
Don’t talk to your children about the your divorce and their custody and think you’ve done your job as a parent and then never bring it up again. You need to put your own feelings aside and encourage them to ask questions for as long as they feel the need to. All children, young and not so young, have a great need to feel safe and secure, and open communication is one of the best ways of keeping things stable on the home front.
Kids can be incredibly honest so expect some of the questions they ask to be to be blunt to the point of being unintentionally painful for you. Answer as honestly as you can, and always remember while their loss is different to yours it’s equally as important for them to come to an understanding and deal with the situation as it is for you.
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