Talking with children about divorce

As January is known as a month in which many couples in Missouri and across the country make the decision to end their marriage, there are likely many parents wondering how to best talk to their children about their decision. For many parents, concerns about how their children will cope with divorce is foremost in their mind once the decision has been made. While parents cannot completely eliminate the concerns and confusion that children will have, there are certain steps that they can take to help their children through the transition.

One thing that parents can do is to present themselves as a team. Children might feel better supported by their parents if both are present when making such a life-changing announcement. For some children, this sends the message that, even though their parents will no longer be married, they will continue to work together as a parenting team.

Also, being honest with children is important. While it is not necessary to tell children all the details, talking with them openly about the changes that will happen — such as one parent moving out of the home — can help. Once making the announcement, give children an opportunity to ask questions as they process the changes that are happening in their lives. Additionally, couples who are able to keep their anger out of such a conversation — even when anger is warranted — can help their children avoid some of their fear associated with the news that their parents are getting a divorce.

Perhaps most importantly, children need reassurance that they were not the cause of the decision to divorce. While it is not possible to completely remove all the difficulties that come with the end of a marriage, it is possible to reduce and manage them. Children can reap the rewards of Missouri parents who are committed to acting in their best interests and working together to make the transition as smooth as possible.

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