SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts. Talking to your kids about divorce can be difficult, but when it is done in a loving way, it can open up avenues for healing and communication for both children and parents. While there is no proper “script” for sharing the news with your children, there are definitely some things you and your ex should avoid doing. Additionally, if you have children and are getting divorced, it’s best to develop a parenting plan outside of court that both you and your ex can agree upon. The family divorce law attorneys at Dinsmore Stark: Attorneys at Law in Springfield MA can help you develop a parenting plan that works for your family. Here are some things to consider when speaking to your kids about divorce:
- Don’t badmouth the other parent in front of the kids. Children internalize bad things you say about their other parent. According to Oprah, children who hear their parents badmouth one another may feel that they have to be loyal to one parent over the other. Children may also internalize the negative comments and attribute them to themselves.
- Don’t share the ugly details with your kids. While you may be tempted to complain about your ex’s failure to pay child support, or about why you and your ex broke up, avoid sharing the dirty details of your divorce with your kids. According to Woman’s Day, this can lead to resentment on the part of the children towards the other parent. Courts may also look unfavorably on parents who create divisions between a child and his or her parent in child custody cases. So, definitely go find a therapist or a friend to vent over the divorce, but don’t share the hard details with your kids.
- Don’t shield your kids from everything. Kids are perceptive and they’ll know when they are being lied to. They also have a right to grieve the loss of your marriage, just as much as you do. We heal when we can connect with others in a loving and caring manner. By hiding important details about the divorce from your kids, you prevent them from expressing their sadness and coming to terms with their grief. If you’re having trouble deciding what to share and what not to share, it might be a good idea to speak to a counselor.
- Encourage your kids to share their feelings about the divorce. Children need to share their anger, sadness, and fears. By giving them a safe space to express their concerns, you can help them heal. If you are concerned that your child isn’t speaking about his or her emotions, it may be wise to have him or her speak to a counselor. It can also be helpful to encourage your child to share the good things as well. Having two homes may mean having two Christmases. Or, kids could be encouraged to note that there isn’t as much fighting now that both parents live apart. Yet, the good parts of a divorce shouldn’t be invoked to cover a child’s anger, sadness, and grief. All of these feelings—the good and the bad—need to be expressed.
Speaking to your children about divorce is never easy, but with honesty and care, the discussion can lead to future healing. Finally, before you finalize your divorce, it is important to make sure that your parenting plan meets your needs as a family. Visit dinsmorestark.com to learn more about how you can draft a parenting plan that meets the needs of your children.