Preparing Your Children for a Divorce

Date Posted:April 15, 2016 | Categories:, ,


No matter how necessary and beneficial in the long term, a divorce creates stress and challenges that can only be minimized, never avoided. The end of a marriage can be especially tough on the children, who may blame themselves for their parents’ problems and may respond in unhealthy ways to sudden changes in their family life and living situations.

The Dublin, Ohio, divorce attorneys with Edward F. Whipps & Associates work closely with all our clients to take as much pain and struggle out of divorce as possible. We often refer the mothers and fathers we represent to counseling and family service providers who can assist with the greatest mental and emotional problems. We have also learned from years of experience that open and honest communication between parents and children from the beginning of the divorce process can benefit everyone.

We do not have all the answers on how to prepare children for divorce—probably, no one does—but we are able to share the following insights.


Do Not Hide the News

Your children will know the family cannot continue in its current state. Once you and your spouse have decided to divorce, tell them. Try to sit down together with all your kids at the same time and be prepared to answer as many of their questions as fully as you can at that time.


Assure Your Children Nothing Is Their Fault

Assign as little blame as possible, in fact. Explaining that your love has changed and that you will be better off living separately should suffice unless you are asked specific questions. Your children do not need to hear details about infidelity, financial wrongdoing, or other forms of abuse or betrayal. Older children may already know much of the history; younger children will probably not understand. Beyond those considerations, attempts to portray one parent as completely at fault for souring the relationship will lead children to feel compelled to choose sides. When that happens, reaching an amicable divorce may become impossible.


Address Fears and Do Not Lie

When confronted with demands for details, answer as directly as possible while using age-appropriate language. A list of questions you should know answers to before sitting down with your kids includes

  • Why?
  • Where will I live?
  • Do I have to change schools?
  • When will we move?
  • How will visits during holidays be arranged?
  • Can I tell my friends, and will they still like me?
  • Do I have to quit any sports or other activities?
  • Will we still see all the grandparents?


Keep Children Informed but Do Not Argue in Front of Them

Let your kids know when you and your spouse have reached decisions regarding asset division, custody, and visitation. Limit your negotiations over those matters to a private setting like the offices of your Dublin, Ohio, divorce lawyer.


Do Not Make Children Confidantes or Go-Betweens

Your children are not your counselors or friends. One of your most important jobs as a parent is to protect their mental and emotional health. Key to meeting that responsibility is sparing them from becoming involved in the ugliest aspects of the divorce process.


Watch for Signs of Distress

Closely related to caring for the well-being of your child as the divorce proceedings move to a conclusion is keeping a close eye on their sleep and eating habits, performance in school, and interactions with friends, siblings, and other family members. Speaking with their teachers, babysitters, and coaches can help you get a fuller picture of how the divorce is affecting your children.

Also let your children express their sadness, anxieties, and anger. Do not make them feel wrong for having strong feelings about the end of the marriage and the changes the divorce forced them to make. In short, be there for your children and seek counseling and medical care as needed.

To learn more from Dublin, Ohio, divorce attorneys, call Edward F. Whipps at (614) 461-6006 or schedule an appointment online.