One of the most challenging aspects of parents making the decision to end their marriage is finding the best way to tell their children of their intentions. Parents understandably want to limit the emotional impact divorce has on children whenever possible. Nonetheless, issues surrounding children and divorce are complex and fraught with the possibility for challenges. With all of this in mind, there are some tactics to consider employing when it comes to how you tell your children about your decision to divorce.
Establish a Unified Front as Parents
Co-parenting is word that you will hear or read with some regularity when it comes to a divorce involving children. You and your spouse need to find a way to co-parent going forward into the future in order to protect the best interests of your children.
An ideal time to begin the process of co-parenting is when you inform your children that you have made a decision to divorce. If at all possible, you and your spouse should discuss the decision to seek a marriage dissolution together. The wellbeing of your children is better served if both parents share in communicating the decision to divorcer with their offspring.
You most definitely do not want to turn a session to discuss divorcer with your children into a spouse-on-spouse argument. Thus, if you sincerely believe a co-parenting session of this nature is not possible, then each parent should sit down with the children separately and discuss to discuss a pending divorce.
Use Age-Appropriate Language to Discuss Divorce
A major tactic you need to employ when it comes to children and divorce and discussing marriage dissolution with your kids is to use age-appropriate language. Simply put, you don’t want to discuss your decision to end your marriage with a high school child in the same way you broach the subject with a younger elementary school child. This may necessitate more than one conversation with your children about your decision to divorce based on their ages.
Emphasize and Then Emphasize Again that Children Bear No Fault for Divorce
You and your spouse need to make it abundantly clear to your children that they bear no responsibility for the decision to seek a divorce. The reality is that children of any age may believe that they are somehow responsible for a divorce. Children in elementary school seem most susceptible to this type of thinking.
You may find that you need to revisit the fact that a divorce is not the fault of your children more than one time. The current and future wellbeing of your children depends upon you and your spouse consistently making it clear that your children did not cause a divorce for one reason or another.
Remain Open to Questions from Your Children
Be prepared for your children to continue to rase questions during your divorce. You need to be as available as possible to honestly respond to your children’s questions. Bear in mind that in some instances, a fair and appropriate response to a child is that a particular question is not appropriate or involves an issue that is not a child’s business. With that said, that type of response (or nonresponse) should be used sparingly in regard to children and divorce questions..
Do Not Give Children False Hope that Marriage will Continue
A final point to bear in mind when it comes to children and divorce is that you need to consistently stride to avoid giving your children false hope that a marriage may recover. Oftentimes, children of different ages will harbor hope that parents will reconcile. Feeding into what usually is a false hope can be detrimental to your children. Therefore, you must always endeavor to be frank and honest with your children – using age appropriate communication – to prevent giving them false hope that you and your spouse will somehow reconcile and remain together.
Your Legal Rights in a Divorce or Child Custody Case
If you have made the decision to end your marriage, you can learn more about your legal rights and other issues associated with a New Jersey marriage dissolution case by scheduling an initial consultation with the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen. You can schedule an initial consultation with a New Jersey divorce attorney from our firm at your convenience by calling our offices at (201) 845-7400.