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Helping Your Children Cope with Divorce

Divorce is often most difficult for the children involved. Your kids are still developing physically, intellectually, and emotionally, so the method and timing you use to break the news of your divorce to them is crucial. If you and your spouse have chosen to part ways, you must formulate a plan for not only telling your children about the decision but helping them cope in the days ahead.

Preparing for the Discussion

It is important to know what you will tell your children ahead of time. This is one discussion where you definitely don't want to wing it. Whatever you say, say it in such a way that doesn't make your spouse look bad in front of your children. This discussion is not a launching pad for you to air your frustrations with your spouse, but rather a time to explain to your children that things will be changing. Before you tell your children about the divorce, we suggest:

  • Rehearsing what you will say in front of a mirror, to a friend, or even with your spouse
  • Choosing a time to talk when your children will feel safe and not rushed or distracted
  • Getting advice from a family therapist or counselor

Handling the Discussion

While you may not want to spend much time with your spouse during this time, it is important that you have this conversation with your children together. No matter what way you look at it, this discussion will not be a happy one. However, what you choose to focus on can drastically change the tenor – there are positives you can focus on.

  • Explain to your children that you still love them just as much and that this decision is in no way because of them.
  • It might be tempting to blame your spouse, but present the decision before your children as a change, rather than a consequence of fighting, anger, or resentment.
  • Be honest with your children, but have discretion with what you choose to disclose. In many cases, more information can be harmful and even cause lasting emotional trauma.

After You've Explained Your Decision

Your job isn't over after you've had "the talk." Your children will likely have questions and concerns about the future. They may even resent you and your spouse initially. Make it a point to be extremely attentive to your children during this time. Even if they are not overtly expressing concerns, they may be suffering internally. Commit yourself to asking questions and being there for your children at all costs.

The Buxner Law Firm is here to help individuals and families with some of life's most difficult decisions. If you are considering divorce and would like to consult with one of our attorneys, we invite you to call us at (314) 888-5235 to discuss your case.