Tips for Telling Elementary School-Age Children About a Divorce
Nothing about getting a divorce is easy. One of the most painful parts of the process is breaking the news to your children, who will probably have a difficult time understanding the adult concerns that led to your decision.
When children are in elementary school, approximately between the ages of six and 11, they are more sophisticated than younger kids when it comes to recognizing and talking about feelings. Still, they're not likely to grasp the reasons behind their parents' split.
This is why it's critical to make time for children to ask questions. They are figuring out why the divorce is happening. Younger children may equate the situation with a particular fight over a small event. Always listen to questions when they arise, and take the time to answer to the best of your abilities. You may not have all the answers, but that's ok.
When you tell your children about getting a divorce, try to present a united front. This means that both parents should be present to meet the perhaps unpredictable reactions from the children. Getting the whole family together prevents sending conflicting messages so that everyone is on the same page.
While you do want to be honest, it's just as crucial not to give away intimate details. These complex, adult concerns are beyond their understanding, and they may foster later resentment if they are shared. Keep things on a forthright level but refrain from trying to argue your "side" of things or casting the other parent in a negative light.
Make certain that the kids are told that they did not cause the situation. This statement may need to be made several times and over an extended period of time. At the same time, provide constant reassurance that both parents love the children and have every expectation of spending plenty of quality time with them.
Let your kids know what your immediate plans are. Is one of the parents moving out of the family home? When will that parent be seeing the kids? Answers to questions such as these help children to conceptualize how things will work in the coming weeks.
You may want to purchase books that are available to help you start the conversation and introduce this change to the children. You can find many age-appropriate books on Amazon and other places where books are sold.
If you are getting a divorce, contact the Sabra Law Group at (646) 472-7971. With an emphasis on mediation to resolve even the most complex issues, Sabra's legal team makes it possible to achieve a resolution in less time and with far less acrimony.