Once the decision to dissolve your marriage has been made, your next challenge will be breaking the news to your children in the most positive way possible. Planning for this step is so important and it should not be taken lightly. Hearing that your parents are divorcing can be traumatic, and can leave a long-lasting, negative impact on a child. Here we will discuss a few steps you and your spouse can take to best prepare your child for the changes your family will be facing.
A united front and parental consistency will provide your child with a level of comfort.
Ideally, both parents should share in the responsibility of delivering the painful news to a child that his life will change as his parents are divorcing. In this scenario, both parents should work together ahead of time to craft a message that is respectful of each parent and does not assign blame. The goal is to have the child recognize that even though his parents will cease to be husband and wife, they will forever be Mom and Dad. Although you may be tempted to do so, do not involve your children in a discussion of fault. It is understandable that during a time of emotional upheaval you may need support. If you do, call upon friends, family, or professionals who can be there for you without involving the children in a negative discussion about their other parent.
Work together to make decisions ahead of time so that you can provide certainty for your child.
During this transition phase, your child will be very interested in how the divorce will affect his daily routine. Be honest and realistic and try to make a plan that will have the least impact on your children. Among other things, you need to address some of the following questions:
- Where will I live?
- Can I stay at my school?
- Will I be able to continue to see my friends and can they come over?
- Will I be able to continue my activities?
- Who will I be with for holidays and birthdays?
- How often will I see each of my parents?
Listen to your child’s concerns and be prepared to address them. This will help your child feel more secure about the future.
When you are ready to break the news, ensure that your child understands that the divorce is not his/her fault.
Children sometimes believe that they are the cause, or that they could have prevented their parents’ divorce. Send the message very clearly that the child is not responsible. The child is also not responsible for the decision-making. Presenting solutions to your child will ease that child’s anxiety in a time of uncertainty.
Assure your child that both parents will always be there.
Your child should never be forced to choose between the parents. Life will change for everyone, but your child needs to know that his parents will always be his parents. Fear of abandonment may present itself. A remedy for that fear is to present, in a unified fashion, what the schedule of access will be with each parent.
Having a positive conversation with your child about divorce is no small task. With a united front, advance planning, good communication and mutual respect, your child will realize that he/she is loved by two parents who will continue to play a major role in his/her life.
If you need help with any issue regarding child custody and divorce, please contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-575-0381.
ABOUT LINDA SORG OSTOVITZ
Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.
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