By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Preparing to break the news to your kids that you’re divorcing their other parent? Feeling insecure about how to broach the subject? Wondering how much to share during and after the divorce? How your children will react? How to handle their questions? How to deal with your special circumstances? What do the experts suggest?
Well you’re not alone.
Talking about divorce to your children is tough. You don’t want to make errors you will regret.
There are many common mistakes parents make at this time. Learn six of the most important ones so you can avoid them.
- Putting your ex down in front of the kids. When you speak disrespectfully about your children’s other parent they are often hurt and riddled with guilt and confusion. Their thinking is, “If there’s something wrong with Dad or Mom, there must also be something wrong with me for loving them.” This can result in damaging your own relationship with your children, as well.
- Fighting around the children. Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and turmoil for children of divorce. Keep parental battles away from your children – even when they’re sleeping or when you’re on the phone. They deserve the peace of mind.
- Pressuring children to make choices. Most kids feel torn when asked to choose between their parents. Don’t put them in that position.
- Neglecting to tell your kids that they are not at fault. Don’t assume your children understand that they are victims in your divorce. Remind them frequently that they bare no blame in any way related to your divorce – even and especially if you are fighting with their other parent about them.
- Sharing information only adults should be aware of. Parents often do this to bond with their children or try to win them over. It creates a burden that children shouldn’t have to bare. Talk to adults about adult issues.
- Using your children as spies. Don’t ask and expect your kids to tell you secrets about their other parent’s life and home. It makes them feel uncomfortable and puts enormous pressure on them. Don’t make your kids your confidants. They’ll resent you for it.
Fortunately you can reach out to many different professionals to help you if you’re not positive about how best to approach your children. Speak to a divorce mediator or see a therapist who specializes in this subject. Find an attorney who practices Collaborative Law which will result in more positive, cooperative outcomes. Seek the advice of parenting coaches, school counselors, clergy and other professionals. Don’t forget the many valuable books and articles on this topic.
Whatever you do, prepare yourself in advance when talking to your children. Be aware of the impact of your words on their innocent psyches. Avoid the mistakes we have discussed. Think before you leap and give your family a sound foundation on which to face the changes ahead with security, compassion and love.
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Rosalind Sedacca is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free ezine, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.