When couples divorce, they spend a lot of time discussing how they might separate the marital property, how they will divide parenting time with the children, and who will have what legal rights and responsibilities to the children. Many couples, however, are at a loss as to how to tell their children about the divorce.
Embracing an age appropriate strategy minimizes confusion. While adults see a divorce as something with many moving parts, children crave concrete, child specific information. Below are age appropriate disclosures at any age.
At Eric C. Cheshire, P.A., we focus on continuing healthy family dynamics during divorce. Parenting time with both parents is essential to good child development in almost all cases.
Preschoolers require explanations that are simple and concrete. Make sure that your discussions focus on where the child will live, when they will see the other parent, and who will care for them. Keep routine the same as much as possible.
6 – 11 Year Old Children
Children in this age range may have fantasies about reconciliation, and how they may facilitate it. This can affect adjustment to their new reality. Children must be clearly told the decision to divorce is an adult decision. They cannot and did not cause the divorce. Nor can they influence a reconciliation. Routine is still very important. Children in this age range may need to revisit the divorce conversation more than once. Books about divorce can help in the process.
12 – 14 Year Old Children
This is a tough age range. Children may be very angry at one or both parents. Even when they are prickly on the outside, they still crave a connection with their parents. Children may demand details. This is not their business. Calmly reassuring them of both parent’s love for them, their custody status, and parenting time schedule provides adequate information for this age group. Allowing them to talk about their feelings helps them process their emotions, when they are willing to do so.
For Children of Every Age
It is not uncommon, when a child experiences a life change or disruption of some kind, for the divorce to rise to the surface again. While you may feel the divorce is long behind you, for your child, this may be a recurring issue. It is perfectly normal for your child to want to talk about their feelings, seek clarity, or express a sense of loss long after the divorce papers have been signed.
If You are Divorcing and Have Children
If you are divorcing and you have children, you may be wondering how to best handle your divorce. Every divorce is different. Every family is different. Telling the children about the divorce requires careful thought and planning. Making decisions about time-sharing and parental responsibility should all be done with the child’s best interests at heart. Contact Eric C. Cheshire P.A. for a consultation at (561) 677-8090. We can discuss your goals for your divorce and your life with your children moving forward. Florida offers a variety of parenting options. We can discuss the approach that will work best for you and your family.