How to Talk to Your Child about Divorce


How to Talk to Your Child about Divorce

Timing is Everything

If you and your spouse are considering a separation or divorce, keep it to yourselves until you know for sure. While it may seem more honest to let your child know as soon as your marriage is in question, the “maybe” behind it all will certainly confuse your child. Though there’s never a “good” time, there are definitely bad times to tell them: school days, right before you head off to work, just as your child is going to dance class or soccer practice, or just before bed. They are going to need to know you are there for them, so any time that they will be separated from you is going to end up being a bad time.

Tell him/her together

Even if you disagree with everything else, try to agree on what to tell your child, for their sake. Ideally, parents should break the news as a team. Telling your child together avoids confusion. They will only hear only one version of the story and conveys that it was a mutual decision, this will also prevent them from feeling the stress of being in the middle of the fight between the two people they love most.

Keep it simple.

If your child is still young, speak in terms your they will understand, limiting the initial explanation to no more than a few key sentences. You might start with “Mom and Dad have done a lot of thinking,” then explain, for example, that Mom is going to get a new apartment. Aim to know what the visitation days and times will be before the conversation so you can share those details. It will comfort your child to know he’ll continue to see both parents and that there’s a plan. Also, if your child has witnessed a lot of arguments, acknowledge that fact and explain that you’re trying to do what’s best for the family and that it is not the child’s fault. It isn’t uncommon for a child to feel like a divorce is because of something they did, so make sure you emphasize that it was between the two of you and had absolutely nothing to do with your child.

Avoid the blame game

However angry you might be, don’t blame your spouse for the breakup, and avoid arguing in front of your child. This will send a message to your child that they are expected to pick sides and this will greatly impact how your child takes the divorce.

Spare your child the details

Don’t make your divorce central. Keep divorce papers out of sight and don’t discuss legal issues, even on the phone, when your child could overhear you. If there’s a custody evaluation — which entails home visits by a mental health professional to observe and interview the child and family, minimize the impact by not building it up too much or coaching your child on what to say.

Should you ever find yourself in the middle of a divorce where the custody of your child is in question and you feel you should seek the advice of a lawyer, be sure to contact Baker Harris Law. We will help the legal side go as smoothly as possible with you coming out on top.