When parents divorce it is a tough time for everyone, especially the children. Parents need to think carefully about how they will inform the children.
The entire family should meet together, so that both parents can answer children’s questions.
The following tips can help with the announcement:
— Set aside time to meet as a family
— Plan ahead of time what to tell children
— Stay calm
— Plan to meet again
Divorce is confusing to children, so limit your first talk to the most important issues, don’t give them too much information at once.
Children need to hear that their basic needs will be met, that someone will still fix breakfast in the morning, help them with their homework, and tuck them into bed at night.
Children also need to know that their relationship with both parents will continue. Parents need to reassure their children through words and actions that their love will continue despite the changes that are happening.
It is a good idea to have follow-up meetings after the divorce has been announced and the children have had time to think about it. During family discussions, it is important for parents to tell children that the divorce is final and avoid giving them false hopes that the parents will reunite.
Children also need to hear that the divorce is not their fault; they may need to hear this frequently.
Ask children about their concerns and fears. Take their questions and concerns seriously and listen to what they say. Children need to know that parents recognize the impact of divorce on children’s lives. Feelings of loss and anger are typical for children.
What do children need from mom and dad? They need both parents to stay involved in their lives.
When you don’t stay involved in their lives, they feel like they are not important and you don’t really love them.
They need you to stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. When you fight about the children, they think they did something wrong.
The children want to love you both and enjoy the time they spend with each of you. If parents act jealous or upset, the children feel like they need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
Children need parents to communicate directly with each other, so they don’t have to send messages back and forth and feel caught in the middle.
When one parent refers to the other parent, children need you to say nice things or nothing at all. Children feel like they are being put down too and are expected to your side.
Children need both of you to be a part of their lives, to raise them, to teach them and to help them when they have problems.
For more information contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS Agent, at 903-590-2980.