Once you and your spouse decide to divorce, it's time to turn your full attention to your children. While you need to tell them what's going on, doing so is easier said than done.
The first thing you have to consider is the age of your children. Telling a 15-year-old about your divorce is different than a 5-year old. If you treat every child the same, you could end up causing more harm than good.
Here are five mistakes to avoid when discussing divorce with your children:
- Rushing the conversation. While you may want to move through the conversation as quickly as possible, your children could have something entirely different in mind. You must spend as much time on this as necessary.
- Badmouthing the other parent. Even if you're not getting along with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you don't have to tell your children all about it. The reasons for your divorce are not important, and there is never a good time to say something bad about the other parent.
- Telling lies. There may be times when it's easier to tell a lie than to share the truth with your children. Again, you don't have to go into the finer details, but you definitely want to tell the truth.
- Ignoring their questions. Your children are sure to have questions about your divorce. Even if you don't know exactly how to answer them, be as open and honest as possible. Ignoring any question, even one you don't consider important, is a mistake.
- Telling your children you don't want to talk about it again. The initial "divorce conversation" is just the start. You should prepare to discuss this with your children again in the future, as often as they would like.
Even if you have every intention of avoiding these mistakes, you could find yourself making one of them as you sit down with your children to discuss what's happening.
These mistakes, among others, can complicate things between you and your child. That's not something you need at this time, as you already have enough on your plate in regard to child custody, child support and other co-parenting related matters.
Once you're comfortable with where things stand with your children, you'll find it easier to move through the divorce process all the while protecting your legal rights.