Download my client handout “Telling your Children about Divorce” as a guide for talking with children about divorce.
A recent study found that more than 50% of all divorcing parents never sit their children down and have a specific conversation with them about their divorce. Unfortunately, this leaves the children in the very de-stabilizing position of assuming/guessing how things will change or has them relying on television or other media to figure out what is going on.
This is a shame because parents are passing up an important opportunity to provide their children with information that can significantly lower the stress and uncertainty that children often experience during divorce. However, if the parents proactively discuss the divorce with their children, they have the opportunity to:
- Explain to them what will be changing and what will be staying the same. They need to know how this will impact them (their school, friends and activities) and these details will help calm their fears.
- Reinforce positive themes (you will always love them and be their parent) that support resilience.
- Understand how this news affects their children (so they can enlist helpful resources if necessary).
There is no denying that this conversation is extremely intimidating to parents (they are overwhelmed by how their children will react) – which is why they’re tempted to avoid it. However, having the structure of specific themes to address as well as either practicing what they will say or getting some professional coaching helps parents to get comfortable with this talk and present it in a more effective manner. Recently, parents I had coached on how to approach this conversation recounted the following:
They were so happy they had proactively talked with their children because their pre-teen daughter was reading a book where the main character’s parents were going through a nasty divorce. The girl in the book had to watch what she said around each parent and was really feeling caught in the middle. My client’s daughter told her parents how happy she was that they “weren’t fighting like the parents in my book.”
For more detail, please review my client handout: “Telling your Children about Divorce” and feel free to share it with anyone to help in talking with children about divorce.