Deciding to get a divorce is oftentimes a difficult decision. Once that decision is made you have to broach the topic of what, when, and how to tell the children. It is important to remember that your children are smart and intuitive. They likely either know or sense that something is happening. For that reason, it is important to be prepared to talk to them and to answer their questions.
It is ideal if you get along with your spouse well enough to sit down together and talk to the children. However, we all know that more times than not, that is not the case. Either way, it is important to remember the following:
- Remind the children that you both love them and will continue to love and care for them.
- Make it clear that the divorce is not their fault and that the problems between the two of you are not problems with the children.
- You support each other as parents and that the children do not have to choose between you.
- You expect your children to continue to do well and obey you, as they have in the past. The divorce is not an excuse.
- If you don’t know how things will end up (i.e. where they will live, the schedule, etc.), it is ok to tell them that you do not know, but that you are working on it and will let them know as soon as you do.
It is imperative that the children feel the freedom to love the other parent and their family when in your home or in your presence. This can become more difficult when your ex-spouse remarries. Children blame themselves for divorce and it is important that you remind the children that it is not their fault. Basically, children just want to feel loved and feel safe.
If you can, talk to your spouse about talking to the children. Ideally, you can reach an agreement about when you tell the children and what you will tell them. It can be helpful to discuss with your attorney or counselor/therapist what to discuss with the children and the appropriate time for the discussion.
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