As a parent going through divorce, your primary concern is making sure your child understands what is happening and doesn’t suffer because of it. Your ex and you are both on the same page and want to make sure your child has the best possible future with both of you in it.
How can you help your child understand divorce and what may happen in the future? It depends on your child’s age. Here are some tips for communicating the chances of a divorce with children of varying ages.
1. Talking to your toddler
Talking to a toddler is a little difficult as it is, depending on your child’s age. However, you can still communicate with your child that there are changes coming and ease the transition. Remember that toddlers bond with their parents at this age, so you should attempt to keep things as normal and stable as possible. Develop a routine, so your child knows when he or she will see mom or dad. If your child is upset, discuss those feelings. Read books about divorce appropriate for his or her age. You can explain that mom and dad won’t be living together anymore, and make sure your child understands that this is not his or her fault.
2. Addressing preschooler concerns
Preschoolers, or children between 3 and 6, may understand that you and your spouse aren’t going to live together anymore, and they may make it clear that they’re upset. At this age, children like to be in charge, which clearly is not possible during a divorce. Talk about divorce in a positive manner and help your child put his or her emotions into words.
3. Talking to your preteen
Children between 8 and 12 are old enough to understand what a divorce is but may believe that their parents will get back together if they behave or rescue the marriage in some way. It’s a good idea for both of you to sit down with your child to talk about the divorce, a schedule for custody and to address your child’s concerns. Take time to do activities that build up your child’s self-esteem, so your child can handle stress in a more positive manner.
These are a few tips that may help you speak with your child about divorce, so he or she has less stress. Your attorney can help you develop a custody plan that acknowledges your child’s needs.