Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Telling the Children You Are Getting Divorced

Telling the children that you are going to get divorced can be a very difficult obstacle to overcome, but it is something that must be done in order for the children to begin to accept this dramatic change in their life. Research shows that children reared in an environment where there is tension and reactive emotion will be struggle maybe even more than a child reared in a emotionally calm divorced home. Children, who see and witness their parents constantly abusing each other, suffer.
Children are resilient and they can thrive in a divorced home. A proper parental environment that offers a safe and reasonably anxiety free ‘growing space’ allow children to blossom. One of the first ways that a parent can help a child is by telling him or her about the divorce. Remember, children of all ages will be affected by their parent's divorce. Following are some tips on telling the children.

Telling the Children

• No matter what the age, it is important that the parents tell the children what is going on.

• If one parent has played the main parenting role, then it is more logical for that parent to break the news to the child, lessening the disturbance.

• It is very important that no blame be assigned to either parent for the separation, because this may indirectly give the child a reason to choose sides. It is unhealthy for the child to feel that there is a good and bad parent.

• As a parent you must explain to the children that they are not to blame for the divorce. Initially almost all children feel that they are responsible. The parent must explain that the divorce is between the parents and not the children and parents. If this is explained correctly, the children will also realize that if they are not responsible for the divorce, then they cannot be responsible for their parents reconciling.

• Don't, I repeat don’t tell the children that you are divorcing unless you and your spouse are absolutely certain that the decision is final.

• It is important that you tell the children about the divorce when you can be together for a long period of time. A non-school day would probably be the most preferred time, because they are going to feel very alone and they will need someone there to feel a sense of safety and security.

• After you have told them the news, you may, without going into great detail, want to give them some idea what they should expect in the future. A child may want to know about school and future living arrangements.

• If they ask "why?" this usually means why is this happening to me. It does not mean why you are getting a divorce. The children initially really don't need to know why, so eliminate details.

• Be sure to ask them if they have any questions. They may have questions, but will be reluctant to respond at that time. Remember, it is important to field questions again and again.

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