Guest blogger Tim Backes of CustodyXchange.com specializes in assisting divorced and separated couples as well as legal professionals and making their lives a little less hectic when it comes to the painful process of separation and communication. In this article Tim shares some great advice on how to talk to your kids about the family’s future.
Divorce is an agonizing experience. It’s tough on many things — your emotions,
finances, and most of all, kids.
While you can shield your children from a lot of things, divorce is one of those things
that needs to be dealt with head-on. If a potential divorce is brewing in your
marriage, kids will probably pick up on it . They feel the energy of an impending
separation or divorce as something large and looming in their lives.
When the day comes for you to address the issue directly with your kids, there are
ways to do it that are much healthier than other ways, and if you get one thing right
in how you divorce, you have to make sure it happens when dealing with your children.
Delivering the News
Once you have decided to divorce, and you know the date your spouse will move
out, plan a meeting together approximately two weeks beforehand. Both spouses
should be present with the children if at all possible, and both should approach the
conversation in an adult-like way. You will focus on the facts and know that blame
and shame will not be a part of this conversation:
1. Remember, the truth will set you free. Children are often more in-tune
with what’s happening than many parents realize, so don’t try to mislead
them or minimize. Let them know the divorce is due to a problem between
you and your spouse and not in any way related to them. Be firm that you
will divorce, and will not be reconciling. Tell them truthful, general things
like, we just aren’t a good fit anymore and we grew apart. If they ask
questions, answer them honestly. Take responsibility when necessary.
2. Put the kids first and remember the Golden Rule. Divorces can fall within
the range of an amicable split to a knockdown-drag-out. If you have children
you owe it to them to put your heated feelings aside and act mature and
reasonable toward each other and them. Promise yourselves you will never
speak poorly of each other to your children.
3. Express your willingness to be available. This does not mean dropping
what you are doing to run to your child every time they need. It has to be
reasonable. When it is your turn to have the kids, they need to stay with you,
and when they are with your ex, you will not rescue them when they are
disgruntled. When your child is upset with your ex just support them by
saying life is tough, and that they need to work out parent issues with the
parent they are angry with. Refuse to be in the middle. At the same time, let
them know you are available by phone should they need or want to connect.
Ask them if they would like you to call on a regular basis and even at a
regular time. If your child reaches out, be there. Listen to what they have to
say, even if it’s something simple like a short story about something that they
learned in school that day. This helps them maintain some sort or normalcy
in their lives, which helps make them feel safe.
Just because you are getting a divorce does not mean you will no longer be a family.
You will always be a family, and families exist in all sorts of configurations. It is not
divorce that messes kids up so much as does the consternation and anger expressed
between the parents. To have the best result you can possible have, control your
behavior with your ex, and always be respectful. You can bet that your kids are
watching, and they need to see you treat their parent decently and fairly.