Telling the Kids About your Kansas Divorce

It may be hard to tell your spouse you want a divorce, but when it comes to telling the children, this is the most difficult task for a majority of my clients. In a perfect world, you and your spouse would sit down with the children together, advise them that Mom and Dad are no longer going to be married, but to not worry as this is not their fault and you will always be a family, regardless of where Mom and Dad are living. However, the world of divorce is not perfect, and often one spouse is left to tell the kids. While not all of these tips may be relevant, I urge you to think about what you are going to say to your kids before you say anything at all.

1. Know your short-term plan regarding the martial residence. Children need stability.  Often one of the questions when the learn about the divorce is “Are we going to have to move”.  Granted, you may not know if you will be able to keep the marital residence, however, for the short term, know if you or your spouse is going to live in the marital residence, and if you are moving, tell them where you are going and the proposed parenting plan.

2. Stay civil. As much as you want to tell your kids what has gone on in the marriage, don’t do it.  If your spouse has had an affair, let him/her tell the children if they choose to do so.  If your spouse wants the divorce but you don’t, the kids will not be better off knowing this.  There is blame in every divorce.  It will most likely hurt you in the long run if you talk bad about your spouse to the children.

3.  Don’t use your children as therapists. It is absolutely inappropriate to break down and discuss your anger and fears with your children, regardless of their age or maturity, because no matter what age your children are, they always see you as Mom or Dad.   When children are in the position of therapist, they may be forced to pick sides and may ultimately place blame for the divorce on them.

Each situation is different and every family has a different dynamic structure.  I recommend to think before you speak, and encourage families to seek therapy at the onset of the divorce, not once the children have shown signs of suffering.

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