There is nothing about getting divorced that’s easy, or simple. Dividing up your stuff and arguing over who gets to keep what is hard. Fighting over custody of your kids is very difficult. Coming up with the money to pay for the whole thing is a challenge. And having to create a whole new life from scratch can be a major headache.
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that breaking the news to your kids is going to be one of many very painful conversations you’re going to have to have. Although chances are, this one will be one of the worst. So how do you do it? What do you say, and when do you say it? Are there ways to make this news less awful for them? All these questions and more are completely normal for parents considering divorce. But we’ve got you covered.
Choosing the right place:
As you can imagine, where you have this kind of conversation is critical. Your child is about to hear news that could make them very sad, or very angry (or both!) so talking about it in a restaurant, or in the lobby of the movie theatre, is a bad idea. Chances are, your best bet is to discuss the divorce with your child at home, where they are free to ask difficult questions, cry, shout, and even storm off to their room for some private time, if that’s what they need.
Exceptions to this might have to do with your child’s age, and relationship to you. If your child is older, and you have a very good relationship with them, you might be able to have this talk in a more public setting. For younger kids, the only place you could have this kind of discussion away from home is in another ‘safe place,’ like a beloved grandparent or aunt’s house, where your child feels safe to express their feelings.
Choosing the right time:
The timing for this discussion is very important. Trying to break the news to your child 15 minutes before they get picked up for soccer practice, or in the morning before they get on the school bus, is probably not the best idea. Divorce is a big concept and your child will need time to process what they’ve just heard. They may want time alone after the talk, or they may cry and want to be held and reassured of your love. Either way, make sure there is enough time for them to work through their immediate feelings.
Also, you need to make sure there is no tight time limit, so that if your child wants to talk about it, you’re available. They may have a lot of questions about why you and their other parent don’t want to be together anymore. They may also have concerns about where they’re going to live, who’s going to care for them, and whether or not they’ll have access to their personal belongings when they’re staying with the other parent. Help them address their fears without rushing them, or pushing to wrap up the conversation too soon.
It’s going to be hard, but you can do it.
Join us next time for more tips on how to have this difficult but necessary conversation with your child when the time comes. Until then, if you or a loved one need help with your divorce, your custody agreement, or any other legal aspect of your family life, we’re here to help.
Our skilled and experienced family law attorneys have spent decades helping the people of mid-Michigan prepare for their futures, and we can help you too. Call 866 766 5245 to speak with a compassionate and hard working family law attorney today.