Talking to Your Kids about Your Divorce, Part 1: Preparations

talking to your kids, divorce, Rolling Meadows divorce attorneyIn an ideal world, informing your children of your imminent divorce is one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have. The world, however, is rarely ideal and, in reality, talking to your kids about divorce is more likely to result in several, if not many, very difficult conversations. Your children deserve to know, obviously, that their lives are about to significantly change, and there may even be positive effects from being appropriately forthcoming with them about the situation.

As you prepare to tell your children, do not begin the conversation on a whim. This is not the time to start talking and “see where it goes.” Your children will need to know certain, specific pieces of information that they may not be comfortable asking about, and you and your spouse need to be ready.

Work Together

If possible, you and your spouse should make the effort to talk with the children together, despite the difficulties you may be facing. This can help demonstrate to you children that you will continue to be a family, albeit with a new dynamic. It also eliminates the need for two versions of the same story, which can lead to confusion or force a child to choose which parent he or she “believes.” Cooperation at this point in the process may even lay the groundwork for future amicability between you and your spouse regarding the children.

Put Yourself in Your Child’s Place

Adults and children communicate very differently, obviously, and the words you choose may not be heard as you intended. Decide what your children need to know about the divorce, and prepare your thoughts according to your children’s level of understanding. As their parent, you are surely familiar with how they process information and you can use that familiarity to ensure a smoother conversation with appropriate comprehension.

Write it Down

Again, work with your spouse if at all possible. Organize your thoughts, and as best as you can, compartmentalize your anger or distrust of your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Take notes on important topics you would like to cover, and come to an agreement regarding which of you will talk about which topics. Agree not to fight, blame each other, or push the children into choosing sides. If you and your spouse must have separate conversations with the kids, follow the same guidelines for preparation. Above all, you and your spouse must continue to work together for as long as you are raising the children, so make every effort to maintain some sort of functional relationship.

Reach Out for Help

Before talking to the kids, it may be helpful to discuss the situation with trusted family members or friends. That way, they can offer a level of support to your children when the questions start. If your child asks Grandma about your divorce, she can be prepared to provide information which supports what you and your spouse have told your child, from a slightly different perspective. By doing so, your children will not feel like they have to carry a terrible secret. Others will know and can be supportive.

If you are considering a divorce and are struggling over how to talk to your children about it, an experienced Illinois family law attorney may be able to help. We have helped many families through very difficult periods and are equipped to help you take the next step in the divorce process. Call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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