Getting divorced can be overwhelming, add a child into the mix and now it can be even more scary. Divorce has many impacts on a child’s life, some good and some bad. It’s important to remember that as a parent your child is looking to you as being the expert. Do your research before spilling the beans. Never is the right time to tell, so here are some tips according to Gary Neuman, the author of Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.
1. Make sure your child knows that it is not his or her fault for the divorce. Be clear when you give this information to your child that, “It’s Mom and Dad’s fault that you cannot live together anymore.” “This is our decision, and no one but the two of us is at fault.”
2. Explain to your child that there is nothing they did, thought or felt or said that led to the divorce. Parents should express to their child that a divorce happens because of something that mom and dad’s do. It’s important that you express that nothing that they did caused this to happen. “We tried, but we can’t stay together because we hurt one another too much.”
3. Let your child know that they’ll be safe and they can continue to maintain contact with the other parent. “You will have plenty of time to see and talk to both of us.” Let them know that thier wishes will be taken into consideration in your planning. “We think our time with you is very important, but because of your schedule, we want to be flexible and talk to you about the specifics so all of us are comfortable.” Try to outline any details that you can.
4. It is important that your child knows that it is not bad or wrong to feel sad, angry or upset. “You probably have many feelings about the divorce and none of them is wrong. It’s okay to feel different things and we will always be here for you. You can talk to us about anything.”
5. The divorce is between you and your soon to be ex-spouse. Let you child know that you understand that they love you and care about you but that you are not asking for them to take sides. “We love you very much and we are sorry that our problems are affecting you like this, and while we promise to discuss with you aspects that concern you directly, there are things that will remain between your mother/father and me. We both know you love us. And we don’t want you to feel that you have to take sides to prove this.”