How to tell the Kids about Divorce

It is certainly not easy to tell your children about divorce, and advice pertaining to such cannot be like a blanket where one size fits all. Different situations call for different tactics. Something that you should always keep in mind is that the children are aware of much more than you realize. They just don’t always have the capabilities of communicating it in a linear fashion. Most things involving high emotions are going to come out sideways. Behavioral issues will come into play at some point as a coping tactic.

My feeling about bad behavior is that they are trying to create a situation where they have control. They know what your reaction is when they do something wrong, so they do something that they know is wrong and get the reaction (or attention) that they predicted or expected, hence a feeling of control. In an effort to counteract this, make sure that you recognize and commend them when they do something right, no matter how small this positive action may seem. This will enforce that they have some control over certain events through positive actions. One of the main issues here is that they have no control over the divorce situation, and this can be frustrating for children. Give them some control over things that you can reasonably and rationally give them control over, and if you can’t give them complete control over something, give them a choice of two or more things.

Tell the children what is happening in terms that they can understand and make them feel involved in the conversation. Make them feel involved in some of the decision-making processes as well, like going with you to look for a new home and choosing which toys they want to keep with each parent. They want to feel involved and important. If you make all of the plans and decisions “behind their back,” you are going to turn their world upside-down. Give them a “play-by-play” of what is going to happen in the near future, to the best of your knowledge of course, and tell them if these plans change. If you try to see things through their eyes, you will have a better understanding of what they are going through. Really try to think back to how you would feel at that age if, all of a sudden, everything had changed. Even as an adult, that would be hard to cope with. And last, but not least, do not bad-talk the other parent. If that person is in fact a “no good piece of bleep,” the children will have plenty of chances to find that out on their own, unless they know it already.