When couples in Washington decide to end a marriage and there are children involved, the situation is complicated financially, physically and emotionally. It is hard enough on young kids to understand that they will no longer live with both parents and kids can easily feel unlovable or as if the divorce was their fault. The way you explain divorce to your child can make a huge difference on how they process it down the road.
Care.com suggests that parents plan the discussion about divorce with their kids and go into the conversation as a team. Discuss together how you will tell your children and be prepared to answer some questions you think they may ask. You know your children better than anyone and you can anticipate some of their concerns.
It is also suggested that parents keep it as simple as possible. Kids do not need to know the details about child support, alimony and custody. They want to know that they will have a place to live, if they will still see their friends and how often they will see each parent. Keep anger out of the conversation and do your best to speak calmly.
When a marriage is ending, it is typical for each spouse to want to place blame on the other. Regardless of the reason your marriage is ending, your kids do not need to know all the details. Do not disclose information about mental health problems, infidelity or substance abuse. Choose each word carefully and use blame-free, neutral language with them. Your kids see parts of both parents in themselves and negative comments about the other parent can influence how they feel about themselves.
Divorce is a large adjustment whether it is amicable or tense. Parents can minimize the damage on their kids by approaching the situation prepared and calm.
This is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.