4 steps for parents to follow when breaking divorce news to children
When breaking the news of divorce, parents should pick the setting carefully, show a united front, give real answers and tell all of their kids at one time.
Many parents who are preparing for divorces in Utah want to shield their children as much as possible from any pain associated with the separation. This can make it incredibly difficult for many parents to tell their children about the impending divorce. Fortunately, though, there are several steps that parents can take to make the news less traumatic and help children prepare for the separation.
1. Prepare in advance
The Huffington Post recommends that parents give careful thought to how they will break the news to their children. Ideally, parents should create a plan together and try to do all of the following:
- Choose a private place where children will feel safe and not distracted.
- Try to avoid choosing a day that falls near holidays, special occasions or deadlines.
- Work with each other, and possibly an expert such as a family therapist, to plan out a script.
Psychology Today notes that children may remember the way their parents broke the news of divorce for years. Parents should keep this in mind while planning how to deliver their message.
2. Include every child
The same source recommends that parents tell all of their children about the approaching divorce at the same time. Many parents may consider initially holding this information back from younger or less mature children. However, this may cause those children to feel like they were wrongly kept in the dark. This approach may also make older children feel unfairly burdened with a secret that they cannot share.
3. Show unity
The Huffington Post states that parents should strive to present a united front when telling children that they are getting divorced. It can be easy for people who are preparing for a divorce to let their personal emotions take over when they are discussing the situation. However, when parents start blaming each other or arguing, the experience may be significantly more distressing for children.
Psychology Today states that open conflict between parents may make children feel that they have to choose between both parents. Such conflict also might lead kids to think that they somehow contributed to the divorce. A more unified approach on the part of both parents can help children feel reassured that they will enjoy ongoing relationships with both parents in the future.
4. Be honest
Outside of protecting children from animosity or conflict, parents should try to be as honest as possible about the divorce. According to Psychology Today, parents should be careful not to avoid questions or give their children unrealistic answers. For example, parents should be as specific as they can when answering questions about where both parents will live or how custody and parenting time might be divided.
Creating a post-divorce plan
When deciding how to tell their children about the divorce, parents may also want to start working on a plan for sharing legal responsibility and parenting time afterward. To this end, parents may benefit from meeting with a family law attorney. The experienced family law attorneys at Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates will be able to offer advice on Utah’s divorce laws, potential custody arrangements and other information that parents might need to reach a working post-divorce arrangement.