Talking With Your Kids About Divorce

Learning how to help kids at different ages when parents get divorced is beneficial to everyone in the family

On behalf of Joel Anders at Joel W. Anders, P.C.

Learning how to help kids at different ages when parents get divorced is beneficial to everyone in the family

Talking with your kids about divorce

When getting divorced, parents in Washington, D.C. have many issues to contend with relating to their children. Determinations about who will have child custody, what visitation plans will be and what parenting time parameters may be established are just the beginning. On top of all of this, it is important to balance kids' everyday lives with school, activities and friends as well.

Getting started

Through it all, kids will want and need to have information about the divorce and associated changes. Psychology Today recommends that when the time comes to first tell kids about a divorce that this be done with all children present at one time. When siblings hear about big news individually, those told first often carry a big burden in keeping the secret until others know. Those told last can feel resentful for having had to wait to know. A group conversation avoids these issues.

Going through the process

Once the initial news about a divorce is shared with all kids, it is certainly appropriate for parents to have individual conversations with their children. Not only can these conversations be a means to maintaining good parent-child connections, they can also let kids talk and get information at levels appropriate to their ages.

Today's Parent notes that teens may be some of the least likely to want to talk about a divorce. While parents cannot force these kids to open up, they can make sure their kids know that the option is always there. Continually reinforcing parenting involvement and willingness to talk is important for these children.

Older school-age children are generally still willing and able to have conversations about how they feel about a divorce. However, some kids do better with this when approached indirectly rather than with a direct "How do you feel?" query.

Younger school-age children can talk about feelings at a more rudimentary level but should be encouraged to do so. Parents can reassure kids that it is normal to feel certain things. Care should be taken to not allow kids to assign blame to the other parent for the divorce, as this age group can do.

Preschoolers obviously have the least ability to process or discuss emotions. They do, however, have the ability to understand where they will live, who they will live with and when they will see Mommy or Daddy. This information should be clearly communicated to them and may need to be repeated in multiple conversations.

Connections matter

Regardless of why a couple gets divorced, kids still love both parents. Barring unusual circumstances like abuse, maintaining good relationships between kids and both parents is important. The Huffington Post recommends that when kids are with one parent that no restrictions are put on communication with the other as a way of doing this.

Getting the right help up front

Washington D.C. couples facing divorce should always get the help of an attorney from the outset. This can allow important legal issues to be handled properly so that spouses can have the time and emotional reserves to manage their own emotions as well as those of their kids.