Divorce can be a difficult time for all parties involved, but it can be particularly traumatizing and challenging for children. The way that parents break the news about the divorce and the way that parents speak to children about the reality of the situation can have a huge psychological impact on how children process and heal following their parents’ divorce. Spokane, Washington family lawyer Connie Powell can help families negotiate and litigate some of the difficult questions that arise during divorce—including questions of child custody and child support. However, parents are often left alone to speak to their children about divorce. Here are some tips for talking to your children, when the time comes.
According to Psychology Today, the location, setting, and circumstances of where parents choose to break the news is incredibly important. Learning that parents are getting divorced can result in shock and even possible trauma. Studies have found that children remember the moment they learned about their parents’ divorce long after the divorce has been finalized. Finding a neutral and calm setting where a child can feel comfortable expressing his or her feelings is incredibly important.
Children may also have many questions pertaining to the divorce. While many parents want to protect their children from unnecessary pain, the best thing parents can do is answer their children’s questions as honestly and simply as possible. Confusion can make the process more painful.
Psychologists also urge parents to break the news to children together, rather than separately. When children feel that they have to take sides, stress is increased and the divorce is likely to be much more painful. Studies have found that the act of one parent berating the other has the same psychological impact on children as the parent berating the child in the same manner. Try to avoid critiquing the other parent in front of your child and try to break the news to the children together.
Kids also need to feel supported by both parents and will want to be reassured that they will be able to continue to foster a relationship with both parents. According to the Huffington Post, during the conversation, parents should explain what things will remain the same and what things will be different in as clear a manner as possible. Only in rare cases of abuse should a parent be denied visitation rights to his or her children. According to helpguide.org children should also not be used as go-betweens or be required to send messages between parents. If parents cannot speak directly, a qualified divorce lawyer or counselor can perform this function. Parents should also reassure children, letting them know that they are loved.
Telling your children about divorce can be one of the most challenging conversations you’ll have. Many parents are comforted by bringing a clear script to the conversation and feel more comfortable speaking to their children after they have resolved questions about child custody, child support, and other living arrangements with a child custody lawyer. Finally, parents should avoid placing children in the middle of their court battles, whenever possible.
If you have legal questions about a family law matter, Powell Law Offices in Spokane Washington can be reached at 509-325-4828.