How to Talk to Your Child About Divorce
Divorce is often a difficult topic to discuss with anybody. When your conversation partner is your child, the discussion only becomes more difficult. You might find yourself struggling to find the right way to tell your child that you are ending your relationship with his or her other parent and that one or both of you will be leaving the family home. Although you might feel anxiety about starting this discussion and catch yourself delaying it again and again, you need to have it with your child.
Take the following into consideration when you decide to begin this series of discussions with your child. Do not think that talking to him or her about divorce is a one-time lecture – the healthiest, most productive way to talk to your child about any difficult topic is to make it a recurring subject, revisiting it in short bursts.
Talk to Your Child Together
If you can, have the initial conversation about your divorce in tandem with your spouse. It is important that your child receives this information from both of his or her parents and can direct his or her specific questions to each of you.
Do not allow your relationship with your spouse to color this conversation. Keep any negative emotions to yourself and do not undermine, contradict, belittle, or interrupt him or her while he or she speaks with your child. It is important that you set a positive tone for the remainder of the divorce process.
Model and Discuss Appropriate Ways to Express Emotions
Tell your child that you understand he or she may be feeling lots of emotions right now. Assure him or her that you, too, have many different feelings about the divorce.
Talk about ways to express these emotions without hurting others. Drawing pictures and writing in a journal are both health ways to express emotions. Using foul or abusive language are not.
Know What is Age-Appropriate for Your Child
The level of detail you explore in your discussions is largely dependent on your child’s age and maturity level. It is important that you recognize how much detail is too much for your child and that you do not bombard him or her with more information than he or she can handle. Similarly, giving an older child too little information can make him or her feel alienated throughout the divorce process.
Discuss your concerns about what is and is not age-appropriate for your child with your former spouse and, if available, a child psychologist. When talking with your child, gauge his or her reactions and questions to determine whether he or she is ready for more detailed information.
For more tips about how to start a healthy discussion with your child about your divorce, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at 732-370-9596 to set up your initial legal consultation with one of the attorneys at our firm. We are here to advocate for families throughout Mercer, Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, and Burlington counties. We will handle your case with the sensitivity and urgency it needs while providing you with top quality legal advice and representation.