The hardest part of making the decision to divorce is often the prospect of telling the children about the decision. Even if divorce is in the best interest of the family, this first step is never easy.
Telling your children about the divorce is different from explaining the changes it will bring – or helping them understand it. So, what should parents take into consideration when explaining their decision to their children?
1. Keep the conversation simple
It is important to be honest with your children, but you must also ensure your language is age appropriate and explain the matter in a way they will understand. Children often understand more than adults give them credit for, but it is still difficult for young children to comprehend complex circumstances and events.
Therefore, it often helps if parents with younger children:
- Use simple phrases they will understand
- Stick to the basics
- Focus on the present
Toddlers and young children rarely consider the future, or how current events could impact their life. It is important to emphasize that things will change, but not overwhelm children with information all at once.
2. Make use of existing resources
As we have discussed in previous blog posts, there are many tools available to help parents with younger children navigate this difficult task. For example, the children’s program Sesame Street offers many resources, and there are a number of children’s books that cover aspects ranging from:
- The reality of living in two homes
- How the family will change
- The complex emotions children might feel
Stories can be an invaluable resource to help children – and even parents – through this process and the beginning stages of getting a divorce in North Carolina.
3. Reassurance is important
It bears repeating that children will always need reassurance when they learn of their parents’ divorce. Even the youngest of children will need parents to reaffirm that they are loved and in no way to blame for the current circumstances.
Helping children understand the decision to divorce as well as the new reality of their family life requires a careful approach. Parents should take time to prepare and tailor their strategies to help their children throughout the process.