If you’re only just joining us now, then you have a little bit of catching up to do before you can read on. Oh, and in case you didn’t see it in the first article, that title was just to grab your attention – no parent should ever tell their children about a pending divorce like that!
In the previous article in this series we talked about the first four things you need to consider when addressing the issue of a pending divorce with your children, namely: when and where you talk about it, being available for post “divorce talk” dialogue with your kids, and the importance of having the discussion with both spouses present. So let’s look at the other half of the list.
Naming and blaming:
Hard as it may be to keep the name calling and finger pointing out of the discussion, make a concerted effort not to blame the other parent for the divorce, even if you really believe they are at fault. Kids often internalize guilt and blame, thinking that it was in some way their fault. Be certain to tell your child that you love them and nothing they did contributed in any way to the breakup of the marriage.
A shoulder to lean on:
Be prepared to carry your child emotionally, at least for a while. Divorces are often very hard for children and they need time to process what is happening, and often not in ways that feel helpful or pleasant. Crying more often, sudden bouts of neediness and clingy behavior, giving you the silent treatment – any or all of these could be ways in which your kids react. Just hang in there, give them the time and space they need, but be available to them if they need a hug or someone to talk to. Reassure them of your love regularly.
Big picture only:
Don’t burden your children with the gory details of why your marriage is failing. They don’t need to know about your spouse’s affair, or your struggle with substance abuse, or you and your partner’s inability to communicate. They will often not understand, but will try to internalize the fault as being in some way their own. They don’t need the details. It will only add stress and misery to what is already a very difficult subject for them. Be honest, but give only the details that pertain to them.
There is no shame in getting help when the load becomes too heavy. Many children struggle to talk to their parents about what they are experiencing, or struggle to discuss the subject without allowing their frustration and grief overwhelm them. Consider getting your child some counseling or a therapist that can help with coping and work through these hard times.
Divorce is hard, but it is possible to work through it and come out stronger, smarter and better equipped for life. In the end, how you handle this now will have a lasting impact on your relationship with your children in future. A lot is riding on your choices. So focus on making the best ones possible – both for yourself and for your kids. However, with regards to your legal choices, you will need some help from an experienced divorce attorney. So call The Kronzek Firm today and discuss your situation with a skilled and hard working family law attorney.