Statistics suggest that the divorce rate in the United States peaked in the 1980’s at about 40%. Since then, studies show divorce has been on a decline, however there are so many factors that contribute to marriage separations as well as the studies, making it difficult to glean any concrete information. One thing that has remained fairly consistent, however, is that couples are less likely to divorce if they have children. This is because once kids are involved, divorce is no longer just about the couple, but about the whole family and the overall dynamic. That being said, couples with kids still do break up, and it can often be very difficult on the children whose sense of “normal” is forever altered. If you are in the midst of hiring a divorce lawyer, here are a few ways to talk to your kids about divorce.
- Be as honest as possible- If your kids are a little bit older, perhaps pre-teen to teen, you can probably be a bit more honest with them. It is likely that they already have friends with divorced parents and will thus understand the concept. If your kids are teenagers, they might press you for a bit more information about why you and your spouse have made this decision. Whether or not you want to disclose that information is up to you, but it is likely that older teenagers will have sensed the problem long before you chose to talk to them about it.
- Make sure that your love for them is always front and center- Reminding your children that you and your spouse love them so much and that that will never change regardless of whether or not you are married is very important. Kids need to know that they still have the love of both parents and that just because their parents don’t love each other in the same way anymore, does not mean it will diminish their love for their children.
- Confirm that it is not their fault- Many kids, especially younger ones, will harbor some of the blame for a divorce and tend to think they did something wrong or something to cause it. They may wonder if they would have behaved better, would their parents stay together? Make sure you let them know that your decision has nothing to do with them and it is absolutely not their fault.
- Do your best to explain the process- This is particularly important for younger children who may be exposed to a child custody lawyer and have to go through the process of splitting their time between their parents. If you let them know what to expect, it will hopefully make the transition a bit easier on them and you.
No matter what age your kids are, divorce can be difficult on them. Try to be sensitive to not just your own feelings, but theirs as well. Treat them as a part of the process because it will strengthen the familial bond and hopefully make the divorce process and interactions with a family attorney easier and less stressful on everyone.