Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful things a family can experience. That is why it is important to be prepared and ready to have tough conversations about it with your child(ren). Although divorces are stressful, they don’t “have” to be. In my experience working with clients as a divorce lawyer and family lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, and Monmouth County, NJ, I found that by adhering to the following tips, you may be able to help deal with your child’s emotions regarding the divorce. Here are a few possible things you can do to seek to help your child:
- Have a conversation with your current spouse ahead of time. I often suggest to my clients that they should develop a game plan on how they will address the topic of divorce with their children. Make sure both you and your spouse are on the same page. Be sure to attempt to de-escalate any tension that may be lingering from the past. Speak to each other with respect and think about your child’s needs first. Since your children are the ones who likely will be affected the most, it is important to strategize first, then create an environment comfortable for them.
- Be honest and age-appropriate when discussing divorce. Speaking to your child in a neutral tone by saying things such as, “We grew apart; We are no longer in love” or; ” Currently, we are unable to parent together” are examples you may be able to use with younger children to help them better understand the circumstances. For older children, you can use the same examples but elaborate more. However, in my opinion, be sure not to have a one-sided conversation and blame the other spouse for the divorce. That may cause your children to lose trust in you, and they could be hesitant to have deep conversations with you in the future.
- Seek professional help. Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) has helped many children through their parents’ divorce. Talk therapy can help children overcome pain from their parents’ separation and develop coping strategies for the future. Children in talk therapy can examine their feelings and behaviors in a safe place. A mental health professional can present a fresh outlook on a problem. They can offer children a better understanding of their own emotions. Therapists can also help your child develop better communication skills and better share their feelings.
Again, a divorce does not have to be a stressful and burdensome process. As long as both parties agree to be civil and place their child’s needs first, then managing their emotions should not be a difficult task. For assistance with this process, I recommend reaching out to a trusted professional, a mediator, family counselor, or a private therapist.
This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.