Take a Thoughtful Approach to Talking with Your Kids about Your Divorce
Telling kids about a split is no easy task. However, there are techniques you can employ that will make the conversation less painful. Read on for strategies on telling your kids about your divorce.
- Be certain that the divorce will occur: Perhaps you’ve had a particularly tough fight with your spouse and have begun to broach the subject of divorce. Before you tell your kids that the marriage is ending, make absolutely certain that this is the case. Telling your children about a divorce, but later deciding with your spouse to keep trying to make the marriage work, can leave your kids feeling unsettled and insecure.
- Write down your thoughts: As with any challenging and complex conversation, having written notes can help ensure that you remember everything you’d like to say and are able to stay on track. It can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment and fail to remind your children of how much you love them, and that your divorce doesn’t mean that your children will need to choose a side between you and your spouse. In order to have a cohesive conversation, try to meet with your spouse to hash out what you’d like to say together. If your spouse isn’t able to have this conversation with you, you should consider nevertheless sending what you’ve written to your spouse to read before you meet with your kids.
- Be prepared to answer tough questions: Another conversation to have with your spouse before telling your kids about your divorce is one regarding post-split logistics. Decide how you and your spouse will share custody, whether the children will remain in one home or spend half the week with the other parent, and how you’ll share holidays. These are the sorts of questions that young children will want answered. You might not have firm conclusions on how you’ll handle these issues in the early stages of a split. Nevertheless, be prepared to explain this fact so that you don’t feel blindsided and possibly give an answer that you’ll later have to change.
- Find the right time to talk: Find a time to speak with your kids that isn’t immediately before school or bed. This conversation isn’t one you’ll want to rush, nor is it one you want to have right before your children will need to concentrate in class. Also avoid major holidays, so as to spare your child from associating the difficult memories of the conversation with a celebratory day.
If you’re considering divorce in Illinois, contact the thoughtful, caring, and dedicated Carol Stream family law attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt for a consultation, at 630-665-9600, with additional offices in St. Charles and Chicago (by appointment).