Every divorcing mother dreads telling her child, “Mom and dad are getting a divorce.” They are haunting and traumatic words—both for the child and the mother. And yet, the reality is that 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States will at some point file for divorce.
As a mom, one of your chief concerns will be your children. Understand that you have a sea of emotions that need an outlet; therefore, when talking to your, kids take caution. The way you speak to them in these very critical moments will forever be embedded in their memory. Take a deep breath before begin speaking. If you think you will breakdown during the conversation, then have a tissue on hand, and if it’s getting out of hand, then excuse yourself.
After delivering this very confusing news, your child will have questions. They may not be asked right away as children will often need time to digest the news. One of the most frequent questions is “Why?”
Below are example answers to give when your child asks the question, and say it in a way that you think your child best understands. During this critical conversation, try to come down to their level. Kneel, crouch, or sit down so that you are at the same height.
- “Mom and dad are not very happy when they are together. We will be happier when we are not staying together, but that does not mean that you only choose one parent. We are your parents, and we love you very much! That means you will now have two homes. Mom’s home and dad’s home, and they are both your homes.” Let your child know that the world has many different family living arrangements, and you can draw examples from his own friends. For example, if a friend of your child stays with their grandparents, you can say, “See, Joey stays with his grandma, and not his parents. That’s his family too. And Erika and Bryn stay with both their parents, and that’s fine as well.
- “Mom and dad are having some grown-up problems. You are not to blame for our problems. It is not your fault, and your sweetheart cannot change or fix them.” Many children tend to blame themselves for their parents’ woes. This is the time to reassure your little munchkin that she is the best thing that ever happened to you. Let them know they have nothing to do with your problems. If your spouse can be part of this conversation as well, then it is even better. Your child or children should take center stage at times like these.
- “We love you very much, no matter what! We will forever be your parents, and we will continue to take care of you.” Reassure your child every chance you get. Hug them. Let them know that your love for them will not change with the divorce.
Divorces have many difficult aspects, which is why you need an experienced attorney on your side. Chad Foster is a trusted Washington lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.