When the topic of divorce hits the household, the stress level escalates not only between parents but also among children. They already hold the feeling of uncertainty the moment they sense that parents are no longer showing the natural affection they have for each other. This ambivalence can result in many harmful behaviors of the child. It is best that parents should be honest and inform children on what’s the real score between them. This article will present some ways on how to spill the beans with children without compromising the relationship of the child with either parent.
Don’t Share Inappropriate Information
It is best to avoid discussing adult details with your child. They wouldn’t comprehend the issue and may not have the maturity to understand wrong decisions and consequences. It will also result in resentment towards one parent or both parents. After all, spilling the nitty-gritty of the reasons for the divorce will lead to badmouthing your spouse, overburdening them and, providing them a hidden request to judge the situation, in favor of someone, therefore, taking sides. Tell them about the situation sincerely and honestly. Focused on the children and how they are feeling. Most especially if you have teenagers. Will they have to move? Change to a new school? Where will they stay permanently? Will they see the other parent during the weekend?
Maintain A United Front
There is less insecurity and anxiety if there are clear and mutually agreed-upon boundaries and expectations. It relays a clear message about divorce and important transitions. It is extremely confusing to hear inconsistent information from two of the most trusted adults in his life. Discuss first among yourselves on the logistics of everyday operations and disciplining styles and resolve issues involving the children before sharing the plans with them.
“The strongest message you want your children to have is that while your relationship with their other parent is changing, you are both still their parents and that will not change,” said Shendl Tuchman, PsyD.
Yes, it quite inevitable to blame someone most especially when it is the truth. It is quite tempting to spill everything to your children because after all, it is the truth. However, according to experts, the reasons for your marriage is between the spouses and don’t see your children as unavoidable collateral damage. Honestly speaking, both parties might have grievances and mistakes in the marriage. Keep your negative opinions of your partner to yourself. It is important to use neutral language and be critical of the tone of voice. Better yet, practice with your soon to be ex-spouse how to be civil and explain to the children about the situation.
Make Sure It Is Final
Avoid telling the children about divorce and separation prematurely, meaning don’t drop the D-word when you are 100 percent, and it is over. Don’t say your teenager that you are having problems and there is a possibility of a divorce. This is will only havoc anxiety and possibly, trigger rebellion. Some divorced spouses opt to wait up to the time; they have signed the divorce agreement with custody arrangements.
“Once you say something, it is out there, so don’t say things out of anger that you will regret later. This is harder than it sounds,” said Deanna Conklin-Danao, PsyD. “Don’t undermine your long-term goal because of your anger in the moment.”
Your children are very perceptive about your moods and emotions. Frequently, they mirror the general vibe you are sending off. If you are anxious and jumpy, they will feel that something terrible will happen. If you are out of control and all over the place, they will also be chaotic and disorganized. Grieving about the marriage is okay. After all, it is a significant loss. It is normal to cry; however, it is advisable not to break down in front of your kids. Be the best parent you have can be in this trying time.
Emphasize that they are not the reason for the divorce
Teenagers often feel guilty about the problems in your marriage, especially if disciplining your teen child is a conflict between two parents or the teenager thinks that he/she added stress to some extent in the household. Reiterate to him/her that he/she is not the problem and not the cause of the separation.
“Don’t diminish their feelings because it hurts to see them angry or sad. Create a safe place to express themselves. Bottling up their emotions will not help them move through the divorce process,” said Dr. Jennifer Guttman, PsyD.