Choosing to get divorced is an intensely emotional and difficult time and only becomes more difficult when you have children. While you and your spouse may have been unhappy for years, children are often surprised when their parents decide to get divorced. But then again, you may be surprised that they already know or expected it. Many of their peers are going through or went through the same thing. This is not new for children. Even if they expected a divorce, children may struggle to cope with the realities of a new lifestyle. Properly informing your children of the divorce is a vital step in ensuring that they are able to cope with the divorce. If you have any worries or concerns seek a professional therapist for advice. Even if you have no worries or concerns, it may be a good idea.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when telling your children that you and your spouse are getting divorced.
- Choose the Right Time
When informing your child that you and your spouse are getting divorced, it is best to pick a day that gives you plenty of time to break the news and thoroughly explain what the divorce means for your family. This is a not a quick conversation and should not be discussed over the breakfast table before school. It is also best to break the news on a day that will allow your child to have some time to process the information without interfering with any big event. For example, if your child has a big test approaching, or a vacation, it may be wise to wait until after these events before informing your child of the divorce. Do it together. One parent should not do it alone.
- Use Specific Language
It is better to come right out and use the word “divorce” when breaking the news to your children. Often, parents want to tiptoe around the issue, using less definitive language in an attempt to reduce the shock or impact of the news. However, this can lead to confusion and further upset down the road.
- Be Careful Not to Reveal Too Much
When you tell your children you are getting divorced, they will likely ask you why. While it is important to tell your children the truth, they do not need to know every reason why you and your spouse are getting divorced. In particular, your children should not hear about the dirty deeds that caused the divorce. The information you reveal when telling your children about the divorce can have a serious impact on the child’s relationship with your spouse, their parent. It is important to respect that parent-child relationship and think of what is best for the children. For most children, a continued relationship with both parents is in their best interest. Thus, it is important not to damage your spouse’s reputation in front of the children by sharing too much.
- Come Up with a Plan
Most children benefit from having a consistent routine in place. While divorce will disturb your normal routine, it doesn’t have to completely throw your children’s lives into upheaval. Before telling your children about the divorce, try to come up with a parenting plan with your spouse. In addition to creating a new parenting plan, try to keep the children’s new schedule as similar as possible to their schedule before the divorce. This will alleviate much of the confusion, will show the children that their lives are going to remain as normal as possible, and will allow your children to know when they will see each parent.
- Keep Reminding Your Children That the Divorce is Not Their Fault
Many children blame themselves when their parents get divorced. This is particularly true when parents fight, in front of the children, about how to raise the children. When you first tell your children about the divorce, make sure to emphasize that they are not to blame. As the divorce progresses, remind them again and again that they are not to blame.
For assistance in obtaining a divorce or advice on breaking the news to your children, please contact Spindler and Associates. We have years of experience and know the laws and court procedures for Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Genesee and Washtenaw Counties where our attorneys have practiced for years. Contact Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 to schedule a consultation. The Oakland County law office is conveniently located in Milford, Michigan. Our service area includes these communities: Milford, Waterford, Walled Lake, Commerce, Highland, Hartland, White Lake, Commerce, South Lyon, Linden, New Hudson, Wixom, Holly, Fenton, Grand Blanc and many more.