Divorce in and of itself is a very stressful and emotionally trying process. This process can be made even more stressful when children are thrown into the mix. Children of divorce can remember the moment they found out about their parents divorce for years to come. Because of this, it is important to sufficiently prepare yourself to make “the talk” as smooth as possible.
Before you sit down to talk with the kids, it is not a bad idea to consult a family or child therapist together with your soon-to-be-ex to discuss how your kids will process everything. Once you have a good idea of what your children need to hear, the two of you should work together to write a script for for the conversation. When you’re ready, choose a time that works for you and your children to privately discuss changes that are coming for the family and for the children. Consider any conflicting dates or deadlines; for example, don’t break the news to the kids the night before a big test in school.
The information you choose to share with your children should be tailored to their ages, maturity levels, and temperament. However, you want to convey one basic message: “what happened is between mom and dad and is not your fault.” In many cases, a child will feel guilty for their parents’ divorce – if only they hadn’t gotten into that argument with their sibling, or if only they hadn’t asked for that toy in the store, things would be different. Because these thoughts are so common, especially among younger children, be sure to provide a lot of reassurance that this is not the case.
Let your children know that, sometimes, adults can’t help but change the way they love each other. Or, tell them that the two of you just can’t agree on things anymore, and so you must live apart. But be sure to tell them that this is not the way relationships work between parents and their children, who are tied together for life.
If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is unavoidable, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney to assist you with the process.