Whether you live in Jupiter or West Palm Beach, you know that growing a family is challenging work. But when a mom and dad come to a decision to divorce, telling the children probably makes the top ten list of things people would like to skip in life.
In an article for MassAppeal by Ashley Kohn, Psychologist Dr. Elaine Ducharme, of Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group, shared tips on how to engage in serious conversations with kids.
First, Ducharme reminds parents, “Kids learn not only from what they are told, but also how they are told and what they see.” Then she offers a list of tips that will help the difficult process if telling your kids about divorce.
- Be honest and use correct terminology: Consider the age of the children and their development level. Use simple explanations with real words such as separation or divorce. Above all, when the timing is right, be honest.
- Don’t be afraid to show feelings: Children learn not only by what parents tell them but also by what parents show them. They will learn “to deal with their emotions by watching how their parents react to different situations.”
- Ask about feelings: Parents may not get a response, but it is important to acknowledge that the conversation might bring about strong emotions. It may be helpful to younger children to identify some of the feelings a child might be experiencing.
- Ask for questions: Divorcing parents haven’t founds answers to all their questions, the children will undoubtedly have some too. Parents should remain open to letting them ask now or later.
- Admit uncertainty: It’s ok if Mom or dad doesn’t have an answer? In a divorce many things are dependent on outside forces. Parents will help if they can let children know when they expect an answer.
- Keep communications open: Give children a way to bring up the divorce conversation on their terms.
Keep in mind that all children are different and their reactions to this news will be varied from angry outbursts, to crying, to silence. Most behaviors fall within the scope of normal. If you are concerned, however, you may want to follow up with a family counselor or psychologist.
Best Time to Talk to Kids
- Look for quiet time without a lot of distractions.
- With younger kids, try to be in a place where you can maintain eye contact.
- With older kids, especially teens, talking in the car is generally a way to get and maintain their attention.
- You can ask them to put away their phones and electronics. For some topics (especially sex), they may feel more comfortable not looking at you.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.