Divorcing parent no no's: 3 important things to avoid when telling your children about divorce
Once you’ve decided on getting a divorce, the next thing you intend to do is to tell your children. When preparing to make the announcement to your children here are the three things you should avoid:Don't say, “I don’t know.
Once you’ve decided on getting a divorce, the next thing you intend to do is to tell your children. When preparing to make the announcement to your children here are the three things you should avoid:
Don't say, “I don’t know.”
Many couples facing divorce make the mistake of telling their children too soon or before having a plan. Children will begin bombarding you with a barrage of questions the minute the word divorce enters the conversation and you must be prepared to answer them. Questions will include things like, “Was it my fault?”, “Is Daddy leaving us?”, “Will I see Mommy again?”, “Where will I live?”, “How can I fix it?” Even if you don’t know the answer to these questions right away, never tell your children that you don’t know. Not knowing invites fear into their lives and they'll imagine an array of many impossible scenarios. If there are things that have not been decided yet you should instead tell your child that you are still talking about options or letting them be involved in the choices. However, while they can have a say, it is NEVER a good idea to put your child on the spot and make them responsible for adult choices.
Don't argue in front of them
Arguing in front of your kids is never acceptable. Whether you agree or disagree about items pertaining to the upcoming divorce, it is important to remember that your child's only concern is how this impacts him and the safe environment of his home. Having a parent leave the home is frightening enough without having to worry about mommy or daddy getting upset. When you have the tough discussions you need to have, take them somewhere private or work them out at the office of a mediator or a counselor. Always present a united front to your children about each step and how it will impact them.
Don't tell them it's just an adult problem
Children will ask you many questions as they navigate this path of divorce with you. It’s important to be as open with them as possible. Telling them not to worry about it and that it is an adult problem can actually cause more stress and fear for them than telling them exactly what is going on. Using age appropriate language and terms, it is important to explain to your child what is happening, what things will change, and how those changes will impact her life. Helping children to see that they can ask questions and get honest answers will help them to be more open with you about their feelings and ongoing concerns.
When divorce is imminent, it’s important to tell the children in as positive an environment as possible. By allowing for open lines of communication between yourself and your children, you can help to alleviate their fears and their concerns. Allow them to ask you the questions they need answered most, and strive to make every effort to answer them in a positive way.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.