Talking to Children of All Ages About Divorce

As a parent, going through a divorce is perhaps one of the hardest things you will go through in your lifetime. No part of it is worse than the day you decide to let the children know what’s coming. They will be scared and anxious, worried about what this means for them and their daily routine. It’s completely understandable.

At Family Matters Law Group, we represent families. We advocate not only for the needs of our clients but also for their children. In this article, we wanted to share some key things to keep in mind that can help parents talk to their children, no matter what their ages.

Rule #1: It’s Not Their Fault

When a child first learns about a parent’s impending divorce, one of their first thoughts is, “What did I do to cause this?”

It is very important for you to make it clear that this had nothing to do with them. It is not their fault that their parents are getting divorced.

Along with that idea, it’s important for the child to know that there is nothing that they can do that will make the situation any better. This is a situation between their two parents and is not about the children. Likewise, there is nothing the child can do to make the situation any worse.

Consistency is the key here. When parents make it a priority to maintain a consistent routine and structure for the children, they will quickly get the idea that they are not to blame and life moves on.

Also, they need to hear a consistent and repeated message that just because two parents are not going to live together any longer, the mother will always be the mother, and the father will always be the father. Again, it’s not about the children; they are not losing a parent and life will continue to move forward.

Rule #2: Leave the Children Out of the Conflict

Sometimes what you don’t say to the children is just as important as what you do say. Your children should not be put in the middle of your conflict with the other parent. It is not appropriate to start pointing out the other parent’s faults or look to your children (especially the teenagers) for validation that you are the parent who is “right.”

Children love both their parents. So, when you discuss specific details of how you’ve been wronged, or try to paint the other parent in a bad light, you are essentially forcing the children to pick a side, to demonstrate loyalty to one parent over the other. This is an impossible situation for the children to be in and is not fair to them.

If you need to vent about the divorce, a therapist, friend, or your attorney can be an excellent sounding board. The children need to know that the conflict is between the parents and is going to stay that way. Also, don’t use the children as messengers to communicate with the other parent.

Rule #3: Actions Always Speak Louder Than Words

Divorce is scary for children of all ages. Their world just got turned completely upside down. The most important thing to communicate is that you still love them and that they are still going to have a consistent daily routine.

As much as possible, try to keep the children’s normal routine intact. Respect the other parent’s need for time and privacy as well. Send the children a clear message through your actions that they are loved and that they will still be cared for.

An experienced and caring family law attorney, such as Edidiong Aaron at the Family Matters Law Group, can help point you to additional resources for talking to your children, including specific tips for specific age groups. Reaching out for help and assistance is one of the ways you can show how much you care about the well-being of your kids.

If you’re in Henry County (or another metro Atlanta county), you can contact the Family Matters Law Group using our convenient online contact form.