The truth is that the majority of spouses are never fully prepared for divorce. Even if they have all of their legal ducks in a row, dealing with divorce can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and it may take years to fully come to grips with the situation.
For children, divorce can also be traumatic, especially for younger children who may not fully grasp the idea of divorce. In their eyes, they may see their parents as the perfect couple, even if they’ve heard fights late at night. While you can’t always fully prepare a child for divorce, there are some strategies that can ease the process:
- Practice What You and Your Spouse Will Say Ahead of Time
Even if you currently have nothing but feelings of anger and resentment towards your partner, it’s best if you both tell your child together. The two of you can even write a script and rehearse what you’ll say ahead of time. Regardless of a child’s age, try not to get into too much personal details and simply emphasize that there were problems the two of you couldn’t fix.
- Pick the Correct Time to Tell Your Child
No time may seem like the “correct time” to tell your child that a divorce is happening. However, there are more appropriate times than others. For example, you shouldn’t tell your child before school and ideally, it’s better to tell them on the weekend versus in the middle of the week. You should also avoid divorce talk around major holidays. While you and your spouse can still work on the legalities during this time, you should wait to tell your child.
- Emphasize Them That It’s Not Their Fault and That Certain Things Won’t Change
Children sometimes believe a divorce is their fault and may think they can somehow fix the situation. Both parents should ensure that it’s not the child’s fault. Additionally, while you will need to prepare a child for certain changes, be sure to emphasize that some things won’t change.
- Stay Positive, but Don’t Lie to a Child
Your child may have questions, such as if they’ll need to move or how often they’ll see the other parent. It can be tempting to give them the answer you think they would want to hear the most, but you shouldn’t lie to them. If you don’t have an answer to their question, then tell them that you don’t know yet, but both parents are working hard to figure everything out.
- Anticipate Delayed Reactions
Kids handle divorce in different ways. Some kids will immediately get angry or start to cry while other kids may understand their parents getting divorce and not react too much. Furthermore, some children have delayed reactions and while everything seems fine with them at first, they may suddenly break into tears days, weeks, or months later. Everyone handles divorces differently and working with a Memphis child custody lawyer can make the process easier, something our friends at Patterson Bray PLLC know about.