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May 14, 2019

Talking to Children About Divorce

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Talking to Children About Divorce

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Even if you and your spouse have been experiencing marital problems on an ongoing basis over a period of years, making the decision to get a divorce can come as a shock to other family members. It can be particularly hard on children, who often have often idealistic ideas about their parents and their marriage. How you tell them this important news plays an important role in how well they eventually adjust to it.

Determining What is Age Appropriate

The effects of divorce vary in children based on their emotional growth and development. Exactly what and how you tell your children about your divorce will depend on these factors as well as their ages. Today’s Parent advises that understanding some of the primary motivations and concerns children have at each stage of development can help you better address any unspoken fears or issues they are likely to face:

  • For children under 5: Their primary concern is likely to be who will take care of them. Emphasize that both parents will continue to love and care for them, even if they do not live together.
  • For children between the ages of 5 and 11: Their primary concern is likely to be the cause of the split and whether you might get back together. Reaffirm that they are in no way responsible for your marital problems, while also providing no false illusions about the potential outcome.
  • For children between the ages of 11 and 16: Their primary concern is likely to be how the family will survive in the future. Provide reassurance while realizing that they may be more inclined to internalize their fears and to discuss feelings with their friends.  

Telling Your Children About Your Divorce

Breaking the news to children about a divorce is never easy. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help minimize the emotional fallout they are likely to experience. Psychology Today recommends the following:

  • Present a united front: If possible, you and your spouse should make time to tell your children together.
  • Keep it simple: Be honest and straightforward in telling them about your divorce, avoiding elaborate excuses or too much information.
  • Allow them to share their feelings: Encourage your children to express their feelings and reassure them that it is natural to feel angry or sad.
  • Provide reassurance: Acknowledge that there will be certain changes in your family, but that you will continue to love and support them.

Our Chicago Divorce Attorneys are Here to Help

While you take care of your family, the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group can help address the practical issues surrounding your divorce. Contact our Chicago divorce attorneys and request a consultation today.

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