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5 Tips for Breaking the News of a Divorce to Kids

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No one gets married with the expectation of getting divorced, but things change, and divorce becomes the only viable option. The break may be easy for you and your spouse, but if children are involved, the process gets a lot more difficult. The first step in the process (and arguably one of the hardest) is to tell your kids about the divorce. That’s Owenby Law is here to give you tips on how to tell your kids about the break.

1. Consider Settings & Circumstances

Research shows kids of divorce vividly remember the moment they find out about the break: regardless of how much time has passed. This fact reveals the impact the revelation has on children, as they never truly forget the moment they are told about the divorce. Therefore, parents should seriously consider the settings and circumstances surrounding the moment they break the news.

2. Tell All Children Simultaneously

Many parents think about telling their oldest child first, believing they have the strength to bear the full force of the news. This creates a number of problems within the family dynamic. First, the oldest child feels the weight of holding the secret of the divorce from their younger siblings. Second, it makes the older child feel that they have to “be strong” in the face of the divorce instead of healthily grieving their loss. Third, it makes younger children feel inadequate at handling problems when they find out that the oldest child knew first.

3. Don’t Assume Your Children’s Responses

As parents are closer to their kids than anyone else, they believe they know how their kids will react to any and all situations. While they may know how their kids will respond to generic scenarios like going to the store, they probably do not know how they will respond to a divorce.

This has more to do with how people respond to trauma than the parent’s “inability to understand their kids.” People respond to trauma in ways that don’t fall in line with their typical demeanors. For example, a kid who is typically tough in the face of hardship may break down from learning about the news of a divorce. A child who is typically emotive may completely shut off their emotions after receiving the news. All that to say, coping mechanisms for trauma look vastly different for every person, so let your child feel their emotions by coming into the situation with no preconceived notions.

4. Be Open: Answers Questions Honestly

Many parents want to protect their children through a divorce, but unfortunately, it is impossible to keep your kids from having negative emotions. While your kids may be young, a divorce scenario thrusts them into an adult situation. Therefore, when it comes to the topic of your divorce, answer their questions honestly. Tell them why the divorce is happening, and it will help your kids process the fact that it is happening. Keeping them in the dark only hurts them.

5. Be Unified in Your Message & Take Responsibility

Children of divorce who receive the news by both spouses who agree on the cause of the divorce handle the situation better than those who receive the news from both parties at separate times. Seeing both parents maturely tell their kids why the divorce is happening is the best way for them to hear the news. Therefore, you and your spouse should rehearse the scenario, and think through possible questions your kids will ask so you can be on the same page with your spouse.

We hope these tips help you share the news with your children in the best possible way. If you are still looking for a family law firm who can take care of you and your needs, as well as your children’s, check out Owenby Law today.