How To Prepare Your Family For A Divorce
If you’re considering a divorce (or are in the middle of one), you likely have a million thoughts running through your mind. To start, there are the thoughts that bother you, like reminiscing on your marriage and why it dissolved. Then, there are the logistical items you need to think through, like your home, other property, shared accounts, etc. And if you’re a parent, your concerns become deeply seeded in how your divorce will affect your children.
You’ve gone through every talking point in your head and even discussed what to say with your ex. Or you may both be avoiding the conversation entirely because it causes too much pain to dwell on. It’s understandable, and you’re not alone.
If you’re ready to address your divorce with your family, here are some ideas to help you navigate the conversation.
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Before you feel overwhelmed about speaking to your family about your divorce, take a deep breath and realize that you love your kids, and this conversation will ultimately be what’s best for your family. Then, practice the following and talk to your ex, if possible, before sharing anything with your children.
The most important first preparation you can take is ensuring that you have a support system moving forward. You may want to talk to someone, ask for help, or even be vulnerable for a minute or two. During these times, it’s critical that you have people you trust to talk to.
If you’re uncomfortable talking to someone close to you, you may want to make an appointment with a therapist or mental health professional. Many specialize in marital problems, divorce, and other related issues.
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Timing is important.
Try to avoid scheduling this conversation before school or a big event. If it’s an essential day for them in any way, push back the conversation for another day. Be aware of any upcoming holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. The last thing you want is to drop the news before they need to be in front of other people.
Try to find a time where your routine is fairly quiet, and you have time to walk them through everything they may have questions about. It’s completely up to you how to handle your children temporarily opting out of school, extracurricular activities, and other commitments. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to how much or how little time your children may need.
At this time, reassurance is key. Whether their reaction is angry, sad, silent, or shocked, it’s important to let them know they are loved, wanted, and that your divorce is not on them.
Let them know you both plan on being as involved in their lives as possible, even if some aspects will change. Remind them that they can talk to you about anything, feel however they need to feel, and that you’ll both be there to listen and understand.
While your divorce is between you and your spouse, your family is the priority here.
Shield your children from as much hostility, anger, and resentment as possible when it comes to your former spouse.
It may be hard to do, but do not escalate this particular conversation into a fight with your ex. This discussion is about your family as a unit and not about the personal issues that led to your divorce.
This conversation is a crucial time for your children, and it could very well be traumatic for them as well.
Do your best to control yourself and your urge to check on them too often, pull their feelings out of them, and so on. If you know your child needs to be alone with their thoughts and feelings, respect that and give them the space they need to process and eventually come to acceptance.
There are a few things you can do to let your kids know they are supported, loved, and in a safe place. Practice what you are going to say and stick only to what they need to know.
You should be able to approach the conversation as a leader. For example, have an answer when they ask where they’re going to live. Whether you’re staying put or moving elsewhere, be honest and let them know the plan.
Again, if you can map everything out and have this conversation with your ex and children at the same time, do so. Your children can have any type of reaction, and it helps for them to know that both of their parents are still a support system for them even if they are no longer married. A few other answers to have ready aside from living arrangements include:
Plan ahead what you’re going to say, and you’ll be more confident going into the conversation.
Your children may not want to speak to you and prefer someone else who can help. Beforehand, you should make a shortlist of therapists to help your children and keep it at your side just in case you need to make an appointment.
You can let your children know this is an option and let them come to you when they’re ready or need it. Avoid forcing them into therapy if they are not responsive to it.
The Daniels Law Firm may not have all of the absolute answers you wish for when it comes to talking to your children about divorce. However, Cassandra Daniels does have the experience, knowledge, and know-how to guide you through your divorce if you need an attorney familiar with family law.
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