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 child(ren) to begin to accept this dramatic change in his or her life. Research does show that divorce is something that can be traumatic for the child/children, and this is very evident when the divorce initially occurs. Of course the child/children would rather have their parents stay together, provided that the home environment is not filled with tension. Research also shows that if a child is brought up in an environment where there is tension on a regular basis, the child will be worse off than a child being brought up in a divorced home where there is no tension. It only makes sense that if the child sees the parents constantly abusing each other, whether it be verbally or physically, the child will ultimately be worse off.
It is possible for a child to thrive in a divorced home, provided they are under the right parental conditions. One of the first ways that a parent can help the child is by telling them about the divorce. Remember, children of all ages will be affected by their parents getting a divorce, so it is important to tell them no matter what their age. Next will be some tips on telling the child/children that you are getting divorced.
How to tell the children:
- No matter what age the child is, it is important that the parents tell the child what is going on.
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- If there is a parent that has played the main parenting role, then it would be more logical for that parent to break the news to the child. The news of something so traumatic should come from the parent that the child feels most comfortable with.
- 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 the parent you must explain to the child that they are not to blame for the divorce. Initially most children feel that they are to blame for their parents’ divorce. The parent must explain that the divorce is between the parents and not the child and parents. If this is explained correctly then the child will also realize that if they are not responsible for the divorce, then they cannot be responsible for their parents getting back together.
- Don't tell your children that you are going to get a divorce unless you and your spouse are absolutely certain that the decision is final.
- It is important that you tell your children about the divorce when you can be together for a while. 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 want to give them some idea what they should expect in the future. They have just received news about the divorce so it's important not to get into too much detail. A child may want to know about school arrangements or they may want to know about their future living arrangements.
- If they ask "Why?" this usually means “Why is this happening to me?” It does not mean “Why are you getting a divorce?” The children initially really don't need to know why. Whatever you tell them should not be in great detail. That's really all they need.
- Be sure to ask them if they have any questions about anything. They may have an incredible amount of questions but will not ask them at the time, so remember to ask them this as time passes.
This may be a very difficult thing for parents to have to do, but it absolutely needs to be done. The child/children need to know what is going on and what is going to happen to them. Remember that children can thrive in a divorced home provided that both parents are honest with the child/children, and that they are there whenever the child/children needs them.
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