If you are considering divorce, you are likely concerned about the effect it will have on your kids. The Canadian Paediatric Society says that when faced with divorce, your children may feel sad, confused, angry, guilty or worried about what will happen. How you handle the changes will be important for your child’s well-being.
If you can, it’s best for both parents to do it together. Think about a good place and time to talk. Be honest, but also keep your children’s ages in mind when deciding how much to tell them. Younger children will need less detail. Older children might ask for more information.
Don’t discuss adult decisions or argue in front of your children. They should not be involved in any meetings you have with a lawyer or others involved with the separation or divorce.
Young children especially will worry that they are to blame for the separation or divorce. Explain that this is an adult problem and there was nothing your children could do to prevent it. They also need to know that there is nothing they (or others) can do to change it. Help them understand that the divorce is final.
Reassure your children that you still love them and that you will both go on caring for them. Let them know there will be many opportunities to spend time with both parents.
Encourage your children to talk openly about their feelings. When they talk, listen carefully and try not to interrupt. It’s normal for children to have trouble expressing their feelings, so be patient. Though it may be hard, it’s important to let them be honest about their fears and concerns. Answer any questions as honestly as you can.
If for whatever reason, your child feels uncomfortable talking openly with you, help her find someone she can trust such as another family member, doctor, psychologist or social worker.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade: Canadian best-selling financial author, host of TV’s ’till Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron and co-founder of the Common Sense Divorce.
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