You may have difficulty with your feelings during your divorce, but your kids may have a more challenging time. Your family is or will be experiencing significant changes. Everyone benefits when kids are prepared for your divorce.
What Do Your Kids Want You to Know?
The University of Missouri has some ideas:
- You both should stay involved in their lives. If one or both of you move away, they want letters, phone calls, texts, and questions about who they spend time with and what they like and do not like to do. If you fail to do so, they’ll feel unimportant and unloved.
- If you and your spouse argue, you should stop and work hard to get along. Try to agree on issues concerning your kids and their needs. If you fight about your kids, they will think they did something wrong and feel guilty.
- They want to love the two of you and enjoy the time they spend with each of you. Support them and the time they spend with each of you. If you act upset or jealous, they may feel the need to take sides and love one of you more than the other.
- Communicate directly with each other, so your kids will not be messengers. If you do not want to talk to your spouse in person or on the phone, use text messages and emails.
- Saying mean, unkind things to each other in these communications can cause your child to feel like you are putting your spouse down and that you expect your child to take your side. When it comes to communication with your spouse, stick to the point and keep it simple.
- Your children want both of you in their lives. They rely on the two of you to raise them, teach them what is important, and help them with their problems.
Both parents should be empathetic with their kids and look at the situation from their perspective. If you were them, what would you want your parents to do?
What Do Your Kids Want You to Say?
Address the most important issues upfront with honest and kid-friendly explanations:
- Tell the truth: Explain why you are getting divorced but keep it short so they do not get confused. The fact you and your spouse do not love each other does not mean you do not love your kids. Since your kids may ask both parents the same questions, you should try to agree on consistent responses.
- Tell them you love them: With all that is going on, the fact your love has not changed is a powerful message.
- Discuss changes: Acknowledge that some things will change, but others will not. Together you will cope with each detail as you go. If the relationship with your spouse has completely broken down and is harming your children, you could honestly tell them some changes will be for the better
- Do not blame: Be honest without criticizing your spouse. This can be difficult if your spouse has caused you a lot of pain, but finger-pointing will not help your kids
How much information is too much? Use your best judgment considering how far your relationship with your spouse has failed, the age and maturity of your kids, and how sensitive they are.
Get the Help You and Your Kids Need
Get counseling if you or your kids need it to get through your divorce. Many of our clients benefit from counseling, and getting psychological and emotional support may ease your burdens. We can refer you to excellent counselors if you need help finding one.
We empathize and care about our clients. We do our part by getting the best possible legal outcomes as quickly as possible. If you have any questions or want legal representation, please contact us here at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.