Divorce is painful for a child at any age. However, for young children, the challenges are even greater. A young child may take the news of their parent's divorce as a sign that they've done something wrong or that a parent wants to get away from them. How you choose to tell your child about the divorce can make a world of difference when it comes to their perception of the life change.
The decision to divorce is one that takes a great deal of thought. You and your ex should wait until you two have discussed the topic in depth and are confident the decision is the best choice for your family. You don't want to tell your child that you're planning to divorce, send them into an emotional uproar, and then change your mind.
Ensure you speak positively about the other parent during any conversations. Speaking ill about another parent in front of the child is a form of alienation. Many states do not take kindly to this practice. The reason it is so frowned upon is that talking negatively about a parent could unduly change the child's view or relationship with the other parent. If the other parent tells the court that you are engaging in this practice, it can affect your child custody agreement, which might not turn out in your favor.
Once you decide to talk to your children, you two should do so together. This conversation is not one that should be delivered by a single parent. Speaking to your children together is helpful because it gives you and your spouse an opportunity to express yourselves together and it gives the child a chance to voice any concerns they have while they have you both in the room together.
Ask for Input
If you feel your child is mature enough to understand what divorce is, you should consider their input. Ask the child what they need or want to feel most comfortable about the process. For example, would the child prefer to stay with mom or dad most of the time? Asking questions is a great way to make children feel like they're a part of the process, but when you and your ex begin the child custody agreement process, you already have helpful information to work with.
Divorce is not a simple process, so it would be unrealistic to assume the task of telling a child about the divorce is easy. However, these tips can help you prepare. Once you're confident you want to move forward with your plans, speak with an attorney who can assist you with the divorce and child custody agreements.
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