How Do I Discuss a Divorce With My Child?
Talking to children about a divorce is very difficult. The following tips are provided by The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and can help both you and your child with the challenge and stress of these conversations.
- Do not keep the divorce a secret or wait until the last minute to tell the child.
- Tell your child together with your spouse, if possible.
- Keep things as simple and straightforward as possible.
- Tell the child that the divorce is not their fault and admit that the divorce will be sad and upsetting for everyone.
And of course, always remember to reassure your child that you still love him or her.
HelpGuide.Org is an online resource that offers valuable information for adults with children who are going through a divorce. HelpGuide.Org recommends that parents communicate a divorce with their children by:
- Presenting a united front by agreeing in advance on an explanation for the separation
- Planning your conversations about the changes that will impact the child’s relationship with each of the parents
- Being respectful towards the other parent when giving the reasons for the separation
Communicate with your child and make sure he or she feels safe and secure in expressing their feelings and how they see the divorce impacting them. Unexpressed feelings can lead to resentment and make the divorce process even more difficult.
What Are the Factors That Influence a Child’s Response to a Divorce?
Every child and family is different. Each child will respond to a divorce in their own unique way. Consider the child’s emotional maturity, ability to cope with previous life-changing events and communication skills.
Other factors include the child’s age, emotional support network (friends or other family members), closeness to parents and ability to intellectualize what is happening.
Children will see a divorce as a complete redefinition of the life they have always known and it is important to try to make the experience as transparent as possible. Work to understand your child and try to create an environment that makes the divorce process as smooth as possible.
A study by FamilyKind.Org found that different age groups generally have similar responses to divorce. Some of the highlights of that reports include:
- Infants. While infants do not have the cognitive capability to process a divorce, the research shows that tension between parents can negatively impact the infant by raising stress levels.
- Early Childhood (Age 2-6). Children in this age group tend not to be able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and they generally do not understand the long-term impact that a divorce will have.
- Middle Childhood (Age 6-12). This age group tends to require a lot of attention and parents can be neglectful of that while dealing with their divorce-related issues. Always make sure to take time out to focus on your child, especially during a divorce.
- Adolescence. During this stage, children are moving toward adulthood and may, even without a traumatic divorce, begin to push away from their parents. A divorce can increase tensions and feelings of resentment between adolescent children and their parents.
There is no great time in a child’s life to experience a divorce. Make sure you understand what your child is experiencing during a divorce process.
Divorces are rarely amicable but try to remain as respectful as possible towards the other parent and allow an experienced divorce lawyer to handle the legal matters so you can better focus on your children.
What is the Role of a Divorce Lawyer Throughout the Divorce Process?
A New Jersey divorce lawyer at Helmer, Conley and Kasselman, P.A. can help you throughout the divorce process. We will interact with your former spouse’s attorney to help remove some of the conflict and tension. Allowing an attorney to help can reduce stress on you and, in turn, reduce stress on your children.
We work hard to protect your rights as a parent and make sure that the entire divorce process is managed in an efficient and equitable manner. If you are in need of a divorce lawyer, please contact us today to discuss your case.