When you’re going through a divorce, you’re experiencing a lot of emotions and might be feeling lost. During this difficult time, your kids will also feel confused and concerned. Here’s how to explain divorce to your children.
Telling Your Kids
After you and your partner have decided it’s time to split, you’ll need to tell the kids. It’s best if you both tell the children together so you can show them that you will both still be there for them. You’ll want to plan the talk and come up with answers to some of the things they might ask you. Even if you aren’t sure yet what the basics of child custody are, you can at least plan to say that you aren’t sure yet when the kids ask how much time they’ll get with each parent. You do not want to say anything unsubstantiated during this discussion, so don’t make any promises to your children beyond that you both will still be there for the kids.
Be honest with your children that things have changed in your marriage, but do not blame one parent or the other. If your divorce is happening as the result of one partner cheating, don’t tell your kids that. Explain to them that your relationship has changed, but each parent’s relationship with the children has not changed and never will. What you say will also depend on how old your child is, so make sure you’re providing an age-appropriate explanation. As long as you explain to your children that you will still be their parents and that relationship will stay the same, they will be reassured and comforted during this difficult transition.
As the divorce progresses, make sure you and your partner minimize talk of the process in front of the children. Your kids shouldn’t be confronted with the reality of legal fees or court meetings. Encourage your children to discuss what they’re feeling with you as the divorce continues, and let them know that their feelings are legitimate. Speak kindly to your ex-partner in front of the kids and keep everything as normal for them as possible. In time, they will adjust to their new normal, but only if you help them through the transition.
While things are changing, you need to provide support to your children. You can start by simply keeping yourself and your kids healthy. Make sure everyone is getting a good night’s sleep and consuming a healthy diet. During difficult times, we might feel too worried or stressed to eat or sleep, but if you’re not taking care of yourself physically, you will start to feel worse emotionally and mentally. Prioritize your physical health when things are hard and the emotional stress will be a little easier to bear.
Finding a therapist for yourself and your children might be appropriate if you think your kids would benefit from talking to an impartial third party. They might have difficulty expressing their feelings to you or your ex-partner, and they could be feeling anger or resentment towards you. A therapist will help your child understand the divorce and their own feelings. A therapist will also help you cope and gain some perspective on the situation. The support of a professional could be a huge help for you and your family.
You might also want informal support, which you could find at a local church. Your pastor or priest is an impartial person whom you can trust, and you might find comfort in the teachings of the Jesus Storybook Bible. You can join a Bible study and gain support from other churchgoers, and your children can attend Sunday School and get their minds off things. Religion can be a huge comfort during difficult times.
No one wants to go through a divorce, but as long as you handle things appropriately and kindly, you and your family will adjust to your new, healthy situation in no time.