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Divorcing with Children: 4 Tips for Talking to Your Kids

How do you handle telling your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce? Both of you are already highly emotional; throwing the emotions of your children into the mix only complicates things further. Many divorce talks don’t go as smoothly as they should, but there are a few tips you can follow to ensure your talk doesn’t go down in flames.

Pick the Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to having difficult conversations. Don’t call together a family meeting when your children are hungry, tired, or busy with homework. Ideally, everyone should be well-fed, well-rested, and the talk should take place on a weekend. School-aged children will need time to recover from the initial shock. Don’t tell them on Monday night and expect them to go to school the next morning as if nothing happened.

Be Open

Open communication between all members of your household is key here. It can be hard to break the news to smaller children; at first, you may only want to tell your older children. Doing this is harmful because they then feel responsible for keeping the secret. Your younger children will likely sense that something isn’t right, leaving them feeling left out and confused. It’s best to be honest with all of your children at the same time about what is going on.

Practice

This is the most important part of talking to your children about divorce. You and your spouse won’t be able to anticipate every question, but you can decide ahead of time what will and will not be shared with your children. You can practice speaking calmly and gently to each other so that neither of you loses your temper or get defensive during the talk. Demonstrate compassion and open communication during this time, as your children will likely remember this for the rest of their lives.

Give It Time

At first, your children may be sad, angry, confused, or indifferent. Just like you and your spouse, they are probably on a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions after learning that their family is splitting up. Don’t punish them for reacting badly. Don’t yell at them. Let them have whatever reaction they may in a safe, understanding environment. It may take a while, but eventually, their emotions will settle, and they will be able to better communicate with you.

Talking to your children about divorce isn’t easy, especially when you and your spouse can barely talk without a fight breaking out. Divorce lawyer services may help you settle your conflict more effectively. Remember that, while your divorce may be extremely trying, it’s not the end of the world. Your remaining calm will help your children do the same.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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