One of the hardest things about divorce is the impact that it has on the kids. Children of different ages understand the world differently, and this impacts how they interpret what their parents are telling them. That’s why it is essential to aim for an amicable divorce, to carefully approach explaining things that will affect them and to consider their age.
Basic tips for divorce news
Here are some general tips to follow for most children, to help you gently break the news to them and to help them understand what it means:
- Keep to the need to know stuff and don’t tell them about affairs or anything non-essential to them.
- Use language that they can easily understand. So, don’t over-complicate things by talking about a consent order, separation agreement or any of the divorce forms that you might be involved with.
- Use lots of reassuring language and cuddles. Let them know that you both still love them, and the divorce is not a result of anything they have done.
- Explain how things will change for them – for example ‘Dad will pick you up from school, and you’ll go to his house two nights a week then the rest of the time Mum will pick you up, and you will stay here.’
- Make it clear they can talk to you again, at any point, if they want to know something or are worried.
It helps if you are both around for the talk and a while afterward. If one parent is leaving, then explain where they are going, when the child will see them again and, if they are old enough, how they can get in touch with them.
Dealing with divorce and younger kids
With younger kids it is essential to have an ongoing process of chats about what is happening, so they can adjust and cope. It is important not to ignore the subject for fear of upsetting them as they are likely worried about things.
For younger kids, keep the information in small, short bulletins. Tell them what is happening and break down the rest into other conversations. Offering to colour or drawing in, to keep them occupied, while you explain can help. You can even ask them to draw how they feel, in the days after the news, to help you understand how they are reacting and then reassure them that these feelings are okay and perfectly natural.
Talking to teenagers
At the other end of the scale are teenagers – more likely to understand what is going on and often less likely to talk about their feelings. Make yourself available for them at any time to talk and look at potential problems, from their viewpoint, to offer reassurance.
If you need help achieving an amicable divorce, call The Divorce Manager on 0800 294 0452 or click here to book your FREE consultation.