Helping Kids Understand Divorce
By Angela Ardolino
Divorce can be one of the most stressful things a person can go through in life, and although oftentimes older kids have an easier time handling it, divorce can shake every family member up. According to a recent study, nearly 45% of marriages end in divorce, leaving quite a few kids confused and upset.
Regardless of the nature of your divorce, there are ways to help kids cope with the fact that mommy and daddy won’t be together anymore.
Tell the Truth About It
Often times this is difficult when the divorce is tumultuous, but it’s imperative to talk to your kids about it rather than let them draw their own conclusions. Dr. Hammond of Hammond Pscyhology says that kids need to be comforted and informed that even though the situation is sad or rough right now it will pass and no matter what you love them.
It may not be appropriate to share all of the details of the divorce with the kids, but having an honest talk with them will help them understand that the divorce is not their fault. They don’t need specific reasons why you are divorcing, especially when they are little, but keeping them informed will help them more easily navigate the scary terrain of divorce and will help them to feel comfortable enough ask questions they may have.
Address Changes That Will Result from Your Decision
Imagine that you are being told out of the blue that you will have to move away and see one of your parents far less. That would be pretty scary, right? So don’t do that to your kids. Divorce expert Ned Holstein advises that one of the best options is to tell your kids from the start that things may change. Explain in a way that doesn’t scare them that you may have to move, or that they may see one of the parents a little bit less but that it doesn’t mean they are any less loved or safe.
Make sure that when you are addressing the coming changes, you try to answer their questions as best as possible. It is okay to tell them if you don’t exactly know what will happen, but encourage them to remember that both parents will still be part of their life.
Break the News Together
For many families, co-parenting after divorce comes naturally. For others, not so much. But no matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, it can help kids understand more easily when they hear the news coming from both parents. Divorce expert Dr. Samantha Rodmansays that when your child feels caught in the middle, it can lead to disaster, so when you break the news show the kids that you are still both united in your commitment to parenting them.
Is is also important not to fight in front of the kids or talk negatively about the other parent to your child. In a lot of instances, things will just slip out, however it can lead the child to having more anxiety. If they hear you saying how horrible their father is, they won’t want to go see him as much which can damage their relationship. Conversely, if they hear daddy say how mean mommy is, they will go home feeling confused and angry. But, when you refrain from placing blame on each other and present a united front, your children will feel more secure and safe.
by Angela Ardolino for DaytimeTV