Learning how to talk to kids about divorce is a sensitive task and must be handled properly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 50% of children live in a single-parent home because of divorce or separation. Without proper counseling, children often become the innocent victims of their parents’ conflicts. Learning how to talk to kids about divorce is thus the first step in helping them cope with the situation.
- Be open. Before the divorce is finalized legally, the parents will often argue a lot. Even when the parents are calm, there may be a hostile and tense atmosphere in the household that will influence the children. As such, the parents need to talk to kids about divorce openly, so that they will understand they are not the cause of the hostile relationship between the two adults. Openness may arouse strong emotions, such as anger and sadness, in the kids, but ultimately it will help put them at ease because they will stop feeling suspicious about the two persons who are the closest to them.
- Be concise. When parents decide to talk to kids about divorce, they should try to limit the scope of the discussion. Talking about issues irrelevant to the children will only confuse them even more. The parents should reassure the children that their daily needs will be satisfied and the children will be able to spend time with both parents.
- Be inquisitive. Sometimes when parents talk to kids about divorce, they tend to act like lecturers who do not conduct any interactive conversations. During the talk, they should encourage the children to ask questions, and address all the concerns they have carefully.
- Collaborate with the school. If the parents experience difficulty while they talk to kids about divorce, they can seek help from school counselors. In some cases, a divorce will affect the children’s performance at school. Thus, it is a good idea to discuss this family issue with a school counselor who can help the kids cope with their school work while dealing with the divorce.
Tip: Children from different age groups react differently to their parents’ divorce. While younger kids will experience intense sadness, teenagers often feel angry, shocked, surprised, and fearful. It is important to help them handle those emotions accordingly.