When you have kids, divorce becomes a lot more complex. Along with the many practical legal considerations, such as divvying up assets and calculating alimony, there are also emotional issues you must face. Talking to your children about your divorce is just one issue that many parents agonize over. With the right approach, you can mitigate your children’s fears and assure them they are still loved by both you and your ex.
Emphasize the divorce had nothing to do with your kids
Some kids internalize issues between mom and dad, which can lead to a misguided belief that they were somehow to blame for what transpired. These beliefs can cause lifelong emotional fallout, so it is of paramount importance that you emphasize that your divorce had nothing do with your children’s actions or behaviors. That does not mean you must go into great detail about why the split occurred, especially when infidelity is an issue. Just say that divorces happen because of adult problems so your kids understand they played no role.
Tell your children you love them on a frequent basis
Children of divorce may also mistakenly believe they are not loved by either parent. Kids may assume that because mom and dad have fallen out of love with each other, the same thing will happen to them. Establish that the family bond is not and will never be broken, even after one parent moves out of the family home. This message is best delivered by both parents in conjunction, which hammers home the point that they still love their kids in equal measure. While it can be challenging to spend time with your soon to be ex-spouse while the divorce is in progress, showing a united front is crucial for the emotional health of your kids.
Use age-appropriate messaging
Young kids will not be as concerned about practical issues, like custody and visitation, so keep conversations with them focused on the emotional aspects of divorce. Older kids and teens will likely have these concerns, so feel free to discuss your custody and visitation plans with them. Also, make sure older kids have some say in visitation schedules or other issues, so they can retain their independence while also spending quality time with both parents.