How to Talk to Your Children about Divorce
By Heather Baker-Mushkatel on May 15, 2013
If you are considering divorce and you have school-age children, one of your biggest concerns may be how to tell your child or children about the divorce. Your desire to shield them from anger, frustration, pain, and fear may be great, and you may wonder how much they understand.
No matter how you decide to finally share the news, it is important to remember that children need as much stability as possible throughout the divorce process. Regular reminders that their parents still love them and will take care of them can go a long way, as will attempts by you and your spouse to create a parenting plan the child can understand and that meets the child’s best interests.
Here are some tips for choosing how to talk to your kids about divorce:
- Timing is important. The younger a child is the more confusing it is to hear that Mom and Dad are “thinking about” divorce. It is often best to tell children after you have decided for certain that the divorce will take place. Also, choose a time when you and your child can sit down quietly to discuss the divorce: times like just before school, sports practice, or bedtime don’t give you and your child the chance to talk, cry, or deal with other initial reactions.
- Stay united. Even if you and your spouse disagree on every other issue, try to agree on what you will tell your child – and then tell it together. Sticking together demonstrates that the decision is mutual and that, while you may be separating from one another, you and your spouse are not separating from your child.
- Keep it simple. Explain things in terms your child can understand. For young children, this may mean stating what is going to happen in clear terms, avoiding words like “divorce” that may not yet be in their vocabularies. Older children may understand the difference between “divorce” and a trial separation, and so an arrangement can be explained in terms they understand.
If you are considering divorce in Peoria, Arizona, the skilled Arizona divorce attorneys at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, can help. Contact us today to learn more.
Heather Baker-Mushkatel is an Arizona native who focuses in the area of family at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. Heather also has substantial experience in criminal defense law, including a background as a public defender in Maricopa County. Heather earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and obtained her Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School. She is a highly active member of state and local bar associations who has served on several panels to educate young lawyers and law students.