As parents, we want the best for our children. If you are contemplating divorce, thinking about telling your kids can be emotionally challenging, but it’s important to approach the subject with honesty and compassion. Our family law attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad have helped hundreds of families through the process and share some tips on the best way to communicate with your children about divorce.
Have A Plan
Whether you’re facing an amicable or contentious divorce, it’s important to put your grievances aside for the sake of your children. Talk with your spouse about what where, when and how you will broach the subject and the manner in which you’ll discuss it. If possible, talk to your children at least two to three weeks before a separation. It’s best to talk with your children as a team to demonstrate that you are unified in your care and concern for them. Avoid speaking with them about it when you’re angry and try to do so in a quiet space where they can express themselves. The start of a weekend is a good time to talk. That way, they have privacy and time to absorb what’s happening and you’ll be around if they need to talk with you in the following days.
When you talk with your children about divorce, it is crucial to make sure you relay important messages, not just in your initial conversation but in the months to come. Let them know that divorce is something you’ve decided after trying to make things better, and it has nothing to do with anything they did. Avoid placing blame on your spouse. Reassure your children that you both love them no matter what and you want them to continue fully loving each of you without feeling disloyal to the other parent. Let them know you are still a family who is there to love and support each other, but you’ll just be a different kind of family in the future. Reassure them that whatever feelings may come up, whether it’s sadness, anger, anxiety, or curiosity, that they are normal and you are here to listen and try to understand how they’re feeling.
Give Them The Basics Of How Things Will Change
Tell them the plan about how things will change in the upcoming weeks and months. Let them know who will stay in the house and who will be moving out. Even if you haven’t worked out custody or parenting plan yet, reassure them that they will still see both parents regularly, whether it’s on weekdays or weekends. If you’re looking for another house or apartment, offer to have them come with you. If they don’t want to, don’t force them. Remind them that you will be all together sometimes for things like school events, sports games, and birthdays. Keep in mind, though, if your divorce is particularly contentious and you’re already disagreeing on these things, don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.
Ask Them How They’re Doing
One short conversation about divorce isn’t enough to assuage children’s fears about losing the family they’ve always known. Check in with your kids daily and ask them how they’re feeling. Keep them informed about what is staying the same and what is changing. Answer any questions they may have, and again, reassure them that you will all get through it and be okay.
Don’t Disparage Your Spouse
One of the worst things you can do is badmouth your co-parent in front of your children. Even if you’re angry and think you’re in the right, your kids don’t need to hear about it. Talking badly about your child’s other parent can cause serious resentment and anxiety for your children. Always remember that their best interests should be your top priority, no matter what you may be going through.
Contact A Family Lawyer To Learn More
At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our family attorneys understand how emotionally taxing divorce and issues surrounding custody and financial support can be. We guide you through the process every step of the way, and we’re happy to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about the best ways to make divorce easier on your children. If you’re considering divorce or need assistance with other family law issues, call us today at 610-867-2900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Bethlehem, Allentown, Stroudsburg, and Topton, Pennsylvania.