Divorce is rarely easy for anyone given the emotions that are often involved. The sad reality is that many individuals allow their emotions to get the best of them, which leads to unnecessary conflict. This can be dangerous to the outcome of your divorce since it might stall negotiations and leave important family law matters in the hands of a judge who doesn’t know you, but it can also put your children’s emotional wellbeing at risk.
This is especially true when you break the news of divorce, but other family-law related issues, such as changes in child custody and visitation, can also negatively impact a child. Therefore, before raising these issues with your children you and your children’s other parent might want to consider how best to approach the matter. We hope that these tips will help guide you so that you can have a productive conversation that protects your children’s emotional health while fostering open and honest communication.
- Be honest: This is perhaps the most important tip. Children deserve to know the truth, and telling them lies may set up false expectations and hopes that go unrealized. This can cause an extensive amount of damage to your relationship with your children by building resentment and a lack of trust.
- Reassure them: There’s a lot of uncertainty once you raise these issues with your children. It’s going to leave them scared, worries, and even angry. Let them know that it’s okay to feel a wide array of emotions and that in the end your love for them won’t change. Since many children try to shoulder the blame for divorce and custody issues, it’s also wise to reassure your children that they are not to blame in any way.
- Don’t portray the other parent in a bad light: You and your children’s other parent might have your issues, but you should try to put all of that aside as much as possible for your children. Don’t blame the other parent for anything when discussing these matters with your children, as doing so just confuses them and creates an enormous amount of tension all around. You can avoid unwanted tension during these conversations by pre-planning the talk with your children in conjunction with your children’s other parent.
- Be open to your children: it sounds simple enough, but your children need to hear that it’s okay to feel the way that they’re feeling and that they can be open and honest with you. Don’t overreact to their reactions. Be understanding and listen to them. Also, be prepared for this discussion to take some times; days, weeks, or months rather than minutes or hours. Your children should know that it’s okay to talk to you whenever they want.
- Focus on the things that won’t change: Children thrive on stability. Divorce and child custody disputes threaten to disrupt their normal lives. So, to alleviate some of the uncertainty, talk to your child about what won’t change. That includes your love and support of them, but it might also include the school they are attending, the extracurricular activities they participate in, and any other social and cultural activities in which they engage. When addressing this particular matter, though, be prepared to discuss what holidays and birthdays will look like.
Raising the issue of divorce and child custody issues is a daunting task. But you and your children’s other spouse might be able to work together to provide your children with comfort and guidance. Hopefully, then, that cooperative spirit will bleed over into your legal affairs where you able to negotiate sound resolutions that are fair and aimed at protecting your children’s best interests.