So the decision has been made, either you or your spouse are filing for divorce. Even the word “divorce” conjures up discouraging thoughts of possible anxiety, stress, financial difficulties, and lifestyle changes with the emphasis primarily on the adults and their adjustment to the changing family dynamic.
But what about the kids? They're resilient, right? Not so fast, according to a recent article posted to Divorce Source, Inc., the level of a child's understanding and how he/she will handle the situation is still based upon the age old adage, children learn by example and will follow your parental lead.
According to the late Ruth Peters, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specialized in child and adolescent psychology, breaking the news to your children should be scheduled early in the process. If possible, both parents should be involved, without playing the “blame game”. Timing should not be too far in advance nor too late in the game either. Showing your emotions during the “talk” is encouraged, let them know that upcoming changes will be difficult for you as well. Remember to provide them with a brief summary of why, how and when these changes will occur. For example, discuss living arrangements, visitation schedules and all adjustments to their routines, which may be difficult but as parents you will both be present to make these transitions flow as smoothly as possible.
Take it one step further; remember, one size does not fit all. Every child and every divorce is unique. Tailor the initial conversation based upon your child's age. If you have children of varying ages, consider first talking with each child individually.
Age Appropriate Tips
Preschoolers – Keep it simple. Inform the child of pending changes but don't dwell on the situation.
Grade School – Use appropriate terms, such as separation and divorce. Focus on the things that will not be changing and be prepared to listen to all concerns.
Middle School – Address all concerns and keep emotions stable.
High School – Discuss the importance of post-divorce family commitments.
If time permits, consider contacting a child psychologist in the Illinois area before entering into the legal process. Once you feel comfortable with your child's level of understanding and acceptance, it is now time to proceed with the legalities. The legal team at Mevorah Law Offices LLC serving DuPage County, is ready to answer all of your legal questions today.
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