The do’s and don’ts about breaking the news of divorce to children

Parents in Illinois should keep in mind that their children will be greatly affected by the news of a divorce.

Parents in Texas who are getting divorced may face the difficult task of telling their children about the split. According to a report in Psychology Today, recent findings demonstrate that children will remember hearing the news and can even relive the emotional pain of the experience. Therefore, parents should take the matter of breaking the news seriously and heed the following advice:

Do tell everyone at once

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends telling all the children at once and as a couple if possible. Presenting a united front is a good way to remind children that the parents still love the kids. It also presents the opportunity for the children to ask questions and receive simple yet honest answers.

For example, children may be worried about where they will live and how often they will see the non-custodial parent. Parents should be sure to keep children in the loop regarding the decisions that will affect them.

Do consider a child's age

Today's Parent published an article that points out that children will process the information differently based on how old they are. Parents should learn what to expect their children to feel and how to recognize potential signs of distress, which can include the following:

  • Preschoolers: May become clingy or irritable and might start waking often during the night
  • School-age: Could experience anger or sadness and voice a desire for parents to reconcile
  • Young teens: Common emotions include anger and irritability directed at the parents

Parents should be prepared to participate in counseling or speak to a doctor about any potential signs of emotional problems following the news of a divorce.

Do not speak negatively about a former spouse

Experts strongly advise against telling children about any tawdry details of a divorce or speaking negatively about an ex. This can confuse and further upset a child, who is already vulnerable due to the changing circumstances. A parent who needs to vent should do so to adult friends or a licensed professional instead.

Do keep a routine

Parents should try to keep the children in their regular routine as much as possible despite the changes going on at home. The Huffington Post notes that children should stay in the same school and maintain regular play dates and activities. A routine can be a source of comfort for a child, even if he or she does not recognize it.

Don't drag out the divorce process

Finally, it is important to remember that even though it will be mainly the adults who are signing paperwork and taking on other legal tasks, the procedure will still affect children. Once a couple tells children that the marriage is over, every step should be taken to ensure the process is done swiftly. This not only saves time and money, but it can keep the children from feeling as though they are in limbo.

Having children during a divorce presents a number of additional issues, such as custody and support. Anyone who is contemplating divorce should consult an Illinois family law attorney.