No one wants to go through a divorce, but if the time has come, it's best to handle it with grace and dignity. Your children watch and see what you and your spouse do during this difficult time in your life. They could become stressed and uncertain, or they can become empowered by how their parents work together even though they're no longer happy living together.
There are a number of ways you can make your divorce easier on your children. Some include talking to them about what's happening, explaining a divorce in age-appropriate terms and getting their input.
1. Talk to your kids
Before you and your spouse go through a divorce, you need to speak to your children together or individually. You should address the fact that although you both still care about your children, you no longer want to live or be together. Children of young ages may not need this kind of information, but older children, especially younger teens, may need to hear what's happening for you. There is little worse in a child's life than being uncertain about the future, so explaining it early helps relieve tension.
2. Use age-appropriate terms to talk to your children about what's happening
It's important to use age-appropriate terms to talk to your children. For example, if you have a 6-year-old child, you may want to explain that mommy and daddy still love him, but they need to live separately to be happier and to take better care of him. If you have a 12-year-old child, you may be more frank and explain that sometimes adults no longer love one another but still want to provide happy, healthy environments for their children. Older teens may already understand what a divorce means, so they may want more information on what exactly will happen to them. How will a divorce affect their school, relationships and other activities?
3. Ask for input
A young child may not have much to say about where he or she wants to live, but older children probably want to have a say. If your teen states that he wants to live with his dad because he's close to school there, then consider that as an option. Likewise, if your teen wants to live with you because you're home more, then that makes sense. Listening to your child and what he or she has to say about the divorce helps keep him or her feeling in control, which makes children feel more secure.
These are just a few ways to address divorce with your child. Your attorney can help you move forward with a parenting plan when you're ready.
Source: Nov. 30, -0001