As a parent of multiple children, something you’re going to notice during your divorce is that they have different ways of coping. One child might act out, and the other child might become reserved or quiet. One may be sad, and the other may become reckless.
It’s hard to know exactly how your kids will respond to divorce, but the one thing that is certain is that you need to take the time to talk to them about the divorce and how it will affect them. Being clear about what is going to happen is a good way to give your kids a chance to explore that future and to start coping with changes as they arise.
How do you talk to kids about divorce?
When you talk to children about divorce, you have to focus on being age appropriate. For example, if you have kids who are 5 and 13, you’ll talk very differently to the 13-year-old child in comparison to the 5-year-old child. A 5-year-old child might understand that you’re going to live apart from their other parent and that they will live in both homes. The 13-year-old will understand much more of the situation and may have heavy-hitting questions about your divorce and why it’s happening.
It’s necessary to be patient when your kids are going through divorce with you, because they do not have the experience that you do with handling your emotions. Your children may act out or lash out in unusual ways. It’s your job to help them understand the correct way to work through their emotions and to cope with changes. They may react in ways similar to you, called mirroring, so be cautious in how you react to bad news and the changes that are happening when you’re around your children.
Don’t forget about yourself
Finally, make sure you’re taking care of yourself during the divorce. Although you do need to talk to your children about the changes, the truth is that you may not react the way you want or speak to them in a calm or appropriate manner if you’re stressed, angry, sad or unwell. If necessary, ask someone close to you to babysit or to watch your children, so you can get away and think through how you want to approach this topic with them. Your health has to come first, so you can appropriately care for them throughout this difficult change in circumstances.