By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Getting divorced or separated. Not sure how to tell your kids? Learn the most common mistakes parents make when having the “divorce talk” so you can spare your children from unnecessary emotional trauma.
Getting psyched up to tell your children about your pending divorce — or separation? Not sure what to say? When to say it? How to say it? What to expect after the conversation? What to do next? How to deal with your special circumstances? What therapists, mediators, attorneys, clergy and other professionals suggest you do and don’t do to make things better all around? Well, you’re not alone. Having the “divorce talk” with a child you love is one of the toughest conversations you’ll ever have. Shouldn’t you be prepared?
Professionals all agree on some of the most common mistakes parents make when bringing up divorce or separation. These include:
- Fighting around the children – even on the phone!
- Using the children as spies or messengers
- Asking children to bear the guilt and confusion of making decisions or choosing sides
- Failing to remind children that none of this is in any way their fault
- Forgetting to emphasize that Mom and Dad will still always be their Mom and Dad — even after divorce!
- Confiding adult details to children in order to attract their allegiance or sympathy
- Badmouthing their other parent to alienate the kids from them
- Failing to create a safe, secure and peaceful environment for your children so they can continue their childhood!
These are just some of the most common messages that parents fail to convey because they’re not aware, not prepared, feeling self-righteous — and sometimes quite scared!
If you’re about to tackle this tough conversation – or you know someone who is – there’s help you can depend on to simplify the process. Don’t wing it unprepared. You wouldn’t go on vacation or plan a party without advanced preparation. Why tackle one of the most important and emotionally charged talks you’ll ever have with your children without giving it just as much – if not more – thought and attention?
If you’re not sure what to say and how to say it in age-appropriate language, there are many resources available to help you. Therapists, coaches and mediators provide excellent personal guidance. Collaborative divorce attorneys (those who specialize in creating non-adversarial divorce solutions) can be of great assistance at this time. So can clergy, school Guidance Counselors and parenting experts. There are many articles and books written on the subject as well.
My own internationally-acclaimed ebook provides a unique approach through the creation of a personalized family storybook – prepared in advance – with photos and fill-in-the-blank templates. To learn more about How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! visit //www.howdoitellthekids.com.
However you approach this challenging conversation, be prepared. Understand the effects – both emotionally and psychologically – this news can have on your children, and learn how to avoid the common mistakes parents make when they haven’t done their homework in advance. You and your children can survive – and even thrive after divorce. Think before you leap and give your family a sound foundation on which to face the changes ahead with security, compassion and love.
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Rosalind Sedacca, a Divorce and Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents, is the author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit //www.howdoitellthekids.com. For a free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her free ezine and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
Divorce is such a difficult time for a family and having to explain a divorce to children is the hardest of all. Thanks for providing these tips!
We value attorneys who understand complex family dynamics and can support clients during the difficult “divorce talk” with the kids. Thanks!
Great advice and I couldn’t agree more, both with the overall message and with the specific points. Unfortunately, the kids are often made to suffer because their parents are not able to keep their cool during the breakup.