Parenting is fraught with difficult conversations with children. Parents must explain to kids where babies come from, why people pass away and why their bodies undergo changes. Thousands of parenting books have been written on the topic, but it the difficulties are still there.
This is especially true regarding conversations about divorce. A number of emotional pitfalls await divorcing parties who don’t consider the well-being of their children when telling them about the split. However, they can be avoided by considering the following tips.
Be honest about the situation – Children may not able to understand all the nuances behind a marital breakup, but they can hardly be hoodwinked when it comes to knowing that something is wrong (or different) about their family.
Help them understand that they are not at fault – Young children may believe that they are the cause of their parents’ divorce. Older kids may believe that they are doomed to repeat the same fate. Helping them understand that each relationship is different, and that they are not at fault helps in making the news easier to swallow.
Don’t make kids choose sides – This is especially important when custody may be an issue in the divorce. Making kids choose between parents is not only stressful for them, it may turn the parents into mercenaries who may not have their kids best interests at heart.
Keep communication lines open – Kids are going to have questions after the announcement is made. Ignoring them or putting off further discussions can raise their stress levels (and yours). Of course, you may not be able to explain everything, but just being there to listen can be helpful.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, How to make telling the kids less stressful, June 11, 2013