At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys know that one of the most difficult parts of dissolving a marriage is talking to your kids about why it is happening and, more importantly, what happens next.
Each California family is unique and often has kids of all ages that must also endure the challenges of divorce. Since they are your kids, you will know better than most how they are going to respond to the divorce news. Their responses are where things can become incredibly emotional.
Our Los Angeles County family law attorneys have a few tips for breaking the news, managing responses, and evaluating their expectations during the divorce process.
Plan the Talk When Things are Calm & Quiet
Our Los Angeles divorce attorney knows that life’s daily schedules can be hectic on a normal day. Throwing a divorce into the mix of things can suddenly make all personal and professional commitments seem overwhelming.
However, to effectively discuss divorce with the kids, it is best to carve out a time when things are calm and quiet in the home, so the conversation is given the reverence it deserves.
Breaking the news in a respectful and age-appropriate way can help you all to move forward.
First, do not bring unnecessary tension to the conversation. It will make the kids feel nervous and unsure how to respond.
Focus on being direct and understanding. That this is a substantial change for everyone but, luckily, we are all getting through it together — including the other spouse.
Next, be honest about what changes will happen, even if you are still unsure of the details. Admit that it will be an adjustment to have to split their time, but that it does not change the fabric of the parent-child relationship and how much they are loved.
Reassure the Kids That Both Parents Love Them Unconditionally
Kids worry that they may have had something to do with the divorce happening, which can lead to self-blame and worry.
It is up to both parents to reassure them that this was a decision that two adults made, and that they did not influence the divorce in any way.
Younger children may not fully understand all the complex issues that lead to divorce, so this will help them know that no matter what, your love for them will not change.
Older children need just as much support, even though they may be more aware of what is happening. They still need a sense of stability to help them feel secure.
Showing a genuine interest in each of your kids’ lives and interests during this challenging period can go a long way in reassuring them everything will be alright.
Navigating the complex emotions that come with divorce begins with allowing your kids to freely share their feelings with you.
That could include:
- Offering consistent support and affection
- Helping them build a healthy relationship with the other parent
- Seeking their opinion when making decisions that affect their lives
- Consistently following through with the rules and discipline
- Attending their extra-curricular activities
If possible, include the other parent in activities, decision-making processes, and supporting conversations, so the kids know you are working in tandem to ensure the divorce is not the focus — they are.
Encourage the Kids to Share Their Fears, Worries, and Frustrations
Kids are much smarter than most adults give them credit for. They see, hear, and know things that parents may have tried to hide leading up to the divorce.
That means they are going to have questions. Allow them to ask about the divorce, share how it is impacting their day-to-day lives, and any fears about what happens next.
This is another opportunity to reassure them about their futures, while bringing you closer and helping solidify your bond.
While the kids are voicing their fears, worries, or frustrations, do not allow them to disparage the other parent, insert themselves into any conflict you may have with the other parent, or become a messenger between the two of you. This leads to stress and anxiety and could cause long-term emotional problems going forward.
Be present. Be supportive. Be the parent.
Are You Considering Divorce with Children in California? We Can Help.
If you are seeking a divorce in California and would like to understand how the proceedings work in their entirety, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles at the Land Legal Group today at (310) 552-3500 to schedule a consultation to discuss your unique needs and to learn how we can help.