Monday, November 25, 2013
There will come a time when you will have to tell your child that you and your spouse are divorcing. If possible you and your spouse should do this together, and if you and your spouse are able to put the best interests of your child first, you should meet with your spouse prior to telling your child in order to discuss when, where, how, and consider answers to questions your child may ask. So, if you can do it together with your spouse, that is in the best interest of your child, but if you cannot do it together with your spouse, it still needs to be done, and I suggest the following:
1. Be sure your child knows that you and your spouse love your child;
2. Let your child know that she has permission to love both of her parents;
3. That the divorce will not weaken any bond between your child and yourself;
4. That the child is not responsible for the divorce, but this is an issue between his parents;
5. Let your child know that anything during the divorce that will affect him, you will let him know as soon as possible to avoid the fear of the unknown;
6. Let your child know what changes may occur and how that will specifically affect her (time sharing, living arrangements, money for college, etc.)
7. Be simple, clear and honest when answering the question, “Why?” But at all costs avoid the specific details of marital fault (paramours / financial issues / etc.)
8. Let your child know that she is welcome to make suggestions to you at any time on anything;
9. Review a calendar with your child so he understands the proposed timeline of the divorce and projected timeline that will affect him;
10. The child should understand that he cannot change this decision, that this is between you and your spouse;
11. Explain to your child the benefits of counseling and let your child know that any time (with permission of your spouse), he may attend counseling to work on anything that he does not want to discuss with you or his other parent;
12. Suggest to your child to start her own “blog” where she can discuss her feelings and maintain a journal that may help other children in the future (and this will give you an excellent forum to review your child’s state of mind during the divorce);
13. And finally, tell her about questions / comments for application into any cultural or social preferences of you and your spouse.
Obviously, all parents and children are different, and the type of communication that may work with one child might not work with another child. Therefore, take the substance of the above questions and culturally modify them to the best interests of your child, as the main issue is just talking to your child and letting your child observe your calm and confident tone of voice and your calm and confident body language, and the ability of your heart to be unconditional to your child.