If you and your spouse decide that you can no longer maintain a healthy relationship together in the same home, divorce is often the solution that follows. This can be a difficult process for all involved, but it can be especially hard on children. A conversation with your children, ideally with both parents present, can help them understand and cope with changes much easier. The largest and most important factor in shaping this conversation is the age of the child.
Ages 6 and Under
For young children under the age of six, keep it as simple as possible. Explain that each parent will be living in different houses, and who the child will live with. Avoid using words like “leave” or “go away” as young children can misinterpret ideas like that easily and they can leave a lasting imprint.
Instead, explain that even though their parents will live in different houses, the children will still be able to see both of them at different times. It is also important to inform children that their daily routine will remain largely unaffected by this change, as young children can be especially sensitive to disruptions in their routines.
Ages 6 to 11
For older children, 6 to 11 years old, a more complex conversation is needed to give a sense of inclusion and understanding. Answer any questions that they may have about the reasoning behind the divorce in a way that is fair and kind, and doesn’t point fingers. It is imperative that they do not place blame on themselves or one specific parent. If they have questions about what divorce is or what a Tampa divorce lawyer is, answer in ways that they can understand to maintain that sense of inclusion.
Ages 12 and Up
For older children, ages 12 to 14, use similar tactics about avoiding blame, but even more sure to answer any of their questions in detail. Keeping the conversation open and supportive ensures that any negative feelings in the children are attended to properly. Conversations with this age range should be more focused on their feelings and what the parents can do to make the process easier. The children’s voices should play an active role in the divorce to avoid strong resentment that can start much more easily at their age.
This conversation may be difficult, but maintaining a positive and supportive appearance for your child should be the top priority. Children are at the developmental stage of their life, and an event like a divorce can either play a negative role in their early life or be something they learn to accept through healthy discussion and inclusion. The talk you have with your children about the divorce should be a time to explain, then listen to their feelings and needs to remind them that they are still loved by both parents despite the separation.