3 DO’s and DON’Ts when telling your Child about the divorce
Divorce Parenting Plan: 3 DO’s and DON’Ts when telling your child about the divorce
The topic of divorce parenting is one hard pill to swallow for all parties, whether you are the news bearer or the receiver. A divorce is usually a messy affair between 2 parties, but things will have a tremendous multi-fold of complications if there are children arising out of the marriage. Sooner or later, the child must be informed of the arrangements, and the unavoidable difficult talk must occur.
No matter what age the child is at, even if they are a grown adult, a divorce between their parents will be an impactful moment in their lives. It may or may not affect their lives and how they cope with it depending on how the news is given.
Here are 3 Do’s and Don’ts to assist you in initiating this heavy topic with your child.
Plan and Prepare
It would help if you planned HOW and WHEN to tell your child. It is best to have everyone together when you are breaking the news, rather than hearing from one side and another. Keeping the message simple and concise is the best as children may process information differently and interpret the situation based on their understandings.
Give them time
Change is overwhelming, and it is a scary time for your child, especially if they are very young but aware of the changes in their surroundings. You may expect very different reactions from different children. Some may not even show any emotions at all, and some may be in denial. Make the topic of divorce an ongoing conversation and slowly help them through the process. Do not expect them to understand the entire situation in just one sitting and one discussion.
Reassure them of the future
As the saying goes, Blood is thicker than water. You must reassure the child that both parents will still love them and be there for them no matter what happens. Encourage your child that they can be honest in their thoughts and emotions. The future may be uncertain at this stage but one thing they are assured of is their importance to you and your love for them.
Speak out of spite and anger
The most critical and golden rule in discussing divorce with your children is NEVER to talk bad about the other party. Although there may have been hurtful moments, avoid playing the blame game with your spouse but instead make it a team effort and be respectful in helping your child understand this transition in life.
Force them to make a choice
Significant changes are about to happen in the child’s life when a divorce is taking place. If the child is slightly older, they might want to have an opinion and input in the future arrangements. They are allowed to have a say but do not ever force your child to choose between the both of you, or never let them think which is ‘the better parent’. Keep your child’s needs first.
Dismiss and ignore their questions
It is inevitable that questions like “does daddy not love me anymore” “why can’t we live together anymore” or the most heard “is any of this my fault?” may arise especially in younger children. These questions should be answered sensitively but with clarity and honesty. Allow your child to ask questions and address any insecurities they may have. Take the opportunity to let them express their worries and doubts.
It will take time for you and your child to address the issue regarding separation or divorce. It is unfair to allow a child to handle all the emotional burdens and baggage of a divorce. The aftermath of a divorce is a difficult obstacle to overcome and adapt to gradually. However, if you notice that your child is exhibiting certain red flags such as depression and anxiety post-divorce, do not hesitate to get professional help or a counsellor.
This article is written by
Cassandra Lee Tze Hui
Associate, Low & Partners
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