Chapter 6: How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce
Divorce is not something that I have every personally experienced, however I feel that it is one of the most difficult and real topics kids face in their lives today. Regardless of whether they have personally have experienced divorce or not they certainly know someone who has or is going through it.
Kids are very sensitive… even more than we can see. They are affected when the place that is the most stable in their world is no longer so stable. They don’t understand what happened and how it happened. They don’t know what life was like when mommy and daddy met. In most cases they weren’t around yet. All they know is the now and they can’t understand what it’s going to be like. All they know are the emotions changing in their home.
One thing that Brian Dollar says that I want to really highlight is:
“Whether the decision to divorce is immediate or drawn out, it devastates everyone involved.”
The separation of parents is not one that just simply doesn’t affect the kids. Yes, kids are generally tough in safe environments, but when the safest part of their life is splitting apart, they are not as resilient as you may like to believe. This is not a beat up session, so don’t feel guilty, but let’s take this as a moment of acknowledgment that our kids need to know that everything will be OK and it’s not their fault, regardless of the situation.
I have 3 second cousins who are brothers. One day their mom just left. She simply disappeared. They had no idea what happened, where she went, or that she would or wouldn’t be returning. They didn’t know of the troubles that were happening between their mom and dad. No one said a word to them until one day, gone. What a terrible way to find out your family was never going to be the same again!
It is very important for both parents, if at all possible, to be present when telling your children of the decision you are making. This is not just a choice for your marriage but a decision you are making for the rest of your kids’ lives. The two of you being present together gives you both ownership of the situation and a very necessary stability in their lives.
Brian gives brilliant advice if you have to go through a divorce: be honest with your kids. Remember they are kids, not your friends. Be very careful what you say about their other parent to them. There is no reason to bring them in to your thoughts toward your former spouse. They should still be able to love their parent without a tainted view.
The topic of divorce is one that is very difficult because of how common it is. Sadly, it is happening every day and many children’s lives are being changed by the minute. The discussion question for this week is:
What are some ways you can help your kids to be an encouragement to other kids they may know whose parents are going through a divorce?