January 5, 2017

Communicating With Children About Divorce

Written by Catrin Stephens

Divorce is often painful and difficult for adults and even more so for children.
For all ages of child, the ability to communicate their own feelings can be extremely challenging especially when their parents are going through their own stressful process of grief and pain.
All Children, will need caring, supportive parents to help them understand, name and navigate their feelings, which can include sadness, anger, confusion, anxiety, fear and guilt among others.
If possible, parents should try to “park” their differences and communicate with their children about the divorce together in a manner that the child can understand.  Repeated reinforcement that everything will be OK is key.  Children also need to hear that they are loved by both parents – over and over again and as often as it takes to make a child feel reassured of the love of both their mother and father.
The talk that parents have with children should not include blaming one parent or another for the split, nor should it include details about the legal proceedings.
Another important component of the talk parents have with children about their divorce is that the divorce is not their fault and that they in no way contributed to it happening. They also need to know that there is nothing they can do to fix it and that this is an adult issue that two adults will handle.
More than anything, parents need to keep open communication on-going with their children throughout the divorce process and beyond. Feelings and problems should be discussed openly and whenever children need reassurance, parents should always be in the roll of supporter – emotionally and socially.
Children should never be put in the position to reverse roles with their parents or act as a ‘shoulder to cry on’, friend or confidant to their parents. This will ensure healthy boundaries in other relationships the child will encounter now and throughout the rest of their lives.
Finally, parents should refrain from talking about the other partner in a negative manner or one parent trying to turn the child against the other parent. Whatever the reason for the divorce, if the parents are to continue an active involvement in the child’s life, the parents must place their personal differences to one side when communicating about their ex-partner.
Talking to children about divorce can be overwhelming and heart-wrenching but it must be done and when a few guidelines for communication between parents and children are followed, the outcome is more likely to be positive for everyone involved.
At Peter Lynn and Partners, our team can help with the communication process and outline suggestions as to how you can talk to your children about the divorce as well as options for living arrangements, schooling plus many other considerations parents will have.
For more information or to arrange a free, initial discussion about your divorce, contact the Divorce and Family Law specialists on 01792 450010 or email [email protected]