Divorcing parents have a lot on their minds. They may be trying to figure out their own emotions, and this may make it difficult to recognize the confusion their children are feeling. While it is true that children of divorce often come through just fine and lead normal, well-adjusted lives, this seldom happens on its own. Minnesota parents can greatly influence how their children emerge from divorce by learning the right things to say.
Talking with children about the very adult topics involved in divorce is a delicate matter. Nevertheless, many child experts say it is better to be honest and open with children than to leave them confused and wondering if they have done something wrong. Child advocates say children need to hear the following from their parents:
- acknowledgment that the parents are having troubles but without giving unnecessary details or badmouthing the other parent
- assurance that the problems are not the child’s fault and that the child cannot fix the marriage
- permission to feel and express whatever emotions the child is experiencing
- confirmation that their parents will always be there for them
- recognition that the parents are also feeling sad or angry
- reassurance that the parents still love them and that everything will eventually be okay
Parents will also want to encourage the child’s questions and to renew this encouragement as the child has time to process the information. Children of divorce often want to know how things will change, such as where everyone will live and whether they will see the other parent. Handling these questions with the child’s best interests at heart may provide the child with the emotional tools necessary to get through this difficult time.