Divorce is a very tricky subject, especially when you and your spouse decide to split, but still need to tell your child. Although the conversation is going to be tough, there are certain things you can do to ensure your child is fully aware of what’s happening and doesn’t feel as if you are attacking them in any way. When it comes to talking to your child about a divorce, here are a few steps you and your spouse should follow.
Do it together.
Even if the divorce isn’t amicable, it’s still very important you and your spouse talk to your child about the divorce together. This way, you are still providing a united front for your child, and you are giving them the ability to ask either of you questions without allowing one parent to sabotage the conversation or try and sway the child into feeling a certain way. Pick a time and a place where you can have your child’s undivided attention, and then use that as a time to tell your child about the decision the two of you have made. Even if you don’t agree, it’s still important you both talk with your child without arguing or pointing blame, as this isn’t beneficial to the conversation.
Answer the questions.
Your child is going to have a lot of questions after hearing that their parents are splitting up, so it’s important you allow your child to ask questions and then answer them honestly. For instance, your child will likely want to know the reason why as well as if there was something they did wrong. Reassure your child this isn’t their fault, and then tell them that the two of you just cannot make it work together anymore. Some questions may be difficult for you to answer, but do the best you can to give your child the straightest answers possible.
Prepare them for the changes.
During a divorce, things in your child’s life are going to change, so you need to make them aware about what’s going to happen. For instance, if one parent will have sole custody of the child, it’s important for the child to know who they will be living with and where, as well as how often they’ll see the other parent. If all of this has yet to be determined, tell your child that you will plan to share time with each parent as best as you can until an arrangement has been made by the courts. Should this divorce also result in your child needing to move or switch schools, this is also information you will want to let them know.
Offer them someone to talk to.
Chances are your child may be angry with you, which means they are not going to want to talk to you. While you will need to give them time to process their emotions, you also need to make sure they are not penting all this anger up inside. Be sure you are willing to give them someone to talk to, whether a family friend, a relative, or even a professional child counselor. Having someone to share feelings with can help your child work through their issues around the divorce and make it healthier for everyone in the long run.
Be prepared for their reaction.
Children can get sad, angry or act like they don’t care, and while you can’t assume to know how your child will react, it’s necessary for you to be prepared for any reaction. Make sure that you and your soon-to-be-ex hold that united front and don’t let your child get out of control.
Talking about divorce with your child is not something you ever hoped to do, but when it becomes a reality, using these tips can make it easier on everyone.