Divorce can be a painful experience for everyone involved. It’s important to remember, no matter the feelings you and your ex may have towards each other, this is also a life-changing event for your children. Talking to your children about an upcoming separation or divorce is no easy task, but with these five tips from Jessica Leischner, partner at Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner PLLC, these conversations might just be a little easier.
Make Sure They Know It’s Not Their Fault
Children often feel they have something to do with the separation or divorce when, in reality, it has nothing to do with them. Children need to be repeatedly reassured that the situation is not because of anything they did, and they are in no way responsible for the decision to separate or divorce. Furthermore, children need constant affirmation from both parties that they are loved, and their parents will remain present in their lives. Children benefit the most when they know they have two parents that love them despite no longer being together.
Stay Away from Negative Language
Refrain from disparaging the other parent to or in the presence of the children. Remember that the children are part of the other parent. Children often internalize negative thoughts they hear one parent saying about the other and feel that maybe something is wrong with them because they are the children of that parent. This can cause psychological harm to the children and negatively impact their relationship with the other parent. It is always best to support the children’s relationship with the other parent and show a united front as their parents. This also applies to other individuals in the children’s lives. Parents should encourage other individuals to remain neutral when in the presence of the children or in situations where the children could be made aware of an individual’s opinion of the other parent, such as social media posts.
Keep the Details Private
Your children do not need to know why you are separating or getting a divorce. They also do not need to know what, if any, difficulties you are facing as a result of separation and divorce. Children do need to know how their daily lives are going to change and how both parents are going to do their best to help them transition into their new normal.
Don’t Put the Children in the Middle
Never make the children pick sides or use the children to communicate to the other parent things that should be communicated directly between the parents. Let the children know that both of their parents’ main objective is to ensure their overall well-being. The children should never be involved in your battles or subjected to arguments with the other parent.
Be Honest About the Future
Have an open discussion with your children about the new changes in their lives as a result of the divorce. Assure them that some things may be different, but that both parents will always be there for them.
A divorce is hard on children, especially when they feel stuck in the middle. That is why knowing how to navigate a healthy conversation should be of the utmost importance to any parent discussing separation or divorce with their children. While the legal process can be challenging, you don’t have to face it alone. Jessica Leischner, partner at Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here to help you navigate your separation and divorce.
Jessica Leischner is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, focusing on family law including separation, divorce, child custody, support, property issues and more. Leischner has been named 2020 and 2021 Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News & World Report, 2021 Super Lawyers Rising Star for Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.
Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.