Learning to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

When you and your spouse decide to get divorced, or even when you make a unilateral decision to file a petition for the dissolution of marriage in Michigan, such a decision can have an enormous impact on your children. Whether your kids are still young and in school or are grown and living their own lives as adults, it can be very difficult to figure out the best approach for talking to your children about the divorce. What is the best way to explain the decision to divorce to your kids?

A new project from NPR Ed, an arm of National Public Radio that focuses on children and education, is designed to help parents determine the best way to tell their kids about the divorce and to talk through it with them. This is not a new topic. To be sure, many psychologists and researchers have considered the best ways to discuss divorce with children at different ages. While NPR Ed works to compile material for its project, we will provide you with some more information from HealthyChildren.org and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concerning kids and divorce.

For Younger Children in Particular, It Is Usually Best to Keep It Simple

When you have younger children, it can be difficult if not impossible to explain the nuances of a marital relationship and the numerous reasons that you and your spouse have decided to dissolve your marriage. As such, especially with younger children, it is typically best to keep your talks with your kids simple and to the point. In an ideal situation, the parents will talk to the children together and to emphasize some of the following points:

  • Both of the parents will be happier after the divorce;

  • Both parents will each have homes with their children where their children will be loved and cared for, just as before the divorce; and

  • Both parents will remain an important part of the children's lives.

As the AAP highlights, older children may already be suspecting that their parents are getting divorced, and they may not be as surprised by the news. However, this does not mean that they will handle the news any better. After providing your children with the basic facts about the divorce, it is extremely important to listen to your kids' responses, to ask them if they have any questions, and to answer as straightforwardly as you can. In addition, since children's questions may change over time, you should plan to give your kids other opportunities to sit down and ask questions about the divorce while it is happening, as well as in the weeks and months after the divorce has been finalized.

Key Questions and Answers for Children in a Divorce

Children in Michigan often have similar questions when it comes to their parents' divorce, and it is important to make the following clear:

  • Your kids are not at fault for the divorce;

  • Your kids could not have done anything to prevent the divorce or to stop it from happening;

  • You will still love your children even if you are not living with them all the time; and

  • Your children may have to move or to change schools depending upon the specific family situation.

Talk with a Michigan Divorce Lawyer Today

A Michigan divorce attorney can speak with you today about your case. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.