Although separating, or getting a divorce, may be one of the most painful, stressful, and upsetting experiences of your life, it is important to remember that it is twice as difficult for your children. Experts have found that frequently the children are the ones who suffer the most in the breakup. It is important to give serious consideration to how you are going to tell your children about the separation or divorce. Be certain that it is actually going to take place before you tell them.
It is best for the children if you and your spouse can put your differences and anger aside and discuss what you will tell them and how you will say it. They will feel more secure if you can provide details about day-to-day facts such as where Mom and Dad will be living, phone calls, and visitation. When you can tell them together, in a calm adult manner, it reassures them that you can work together as parents even though you will no longer be a couple. It is important to leave blame and recrimination about the other spouse out of the conversation. Simply let them know that this is a mutually agreed upon decision that you are both committed to.
A study in Utah conducted in-depth interviews with children who have divorced parents. The insights provide valuable guidance for parents preparing to tell their children about an impending separation or divorce.
- Plan the setting and circumstances carefully. The memory of the moment they learned of the divorce sticks with children, sometimes for a lifetime. Parents erroneously believe that children will forget the pain of the moment, but interviews with older adults whose parents divorced during their childhood indicate otherwise.
- Gather all of the children and tell them at the same time. Many parents make the mistake of telling the older children first, sheltering the younger children until much later. The study found that both the older and younger children resent this. The younger ones feel that they weren’t trusted to handle the situation. The older children feel that they were forced to bear the unfair burden of keeping secrets.
- Be prepared for a myriad of reactions. It cannot be predicted how they will respond. Some are relieved that the hostility is over, some sadly want things to stay unchanged, but most children feel a mixture of emotions that may confuse you. Allow them to let you know exactly what they are feeling.
- Make sure they understand that the divorce has nothing to do with them. Some children feel that they must be somehow responsible for the problem due to behavior, grades, or some other issue.
For the sake of the children, as well as both parents, it is important to complete the divorce proceedings as quickly and amicably as possible. The attorneys at David M. Siegel and associates have the experience to expedite the process as much as possible. Call (847) 520-8100 and schedule an appointment with a seasoned attorney to help you with this difficult process so you can focus on your children.