Texas divorce: The dos and do nots of talking to the kids

The news of their parents’ intention to divorce may be shocking for children of all ages, but how people break the news may help their kids to cope.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the divorce rate in 2014 was 2.7 for every 1,000 residents. Telling adult family members and friends about their decision to split can be challenging enough for divorcing couples. However, it may be even more difficult for them to break the news to their children. Although there is no way to ease the sting that this discussion may cause their kids, there are things parents can do to help lessen the blow.

Do have a plan

Research shows that the memory of being told their parents are getting divorced is one that remains on the surface for many children, and will stay with them. For many people, this may be one of the most complicated conversations they will ever have with their kids. Prior to breaking the news to their children, it is advisable that parents sit down together to decide how they will tell the kids and what their message should be.

Do not assign blame

It is common for divorces to be wanted by one spouse and not the other, the result of a transgression or due to any other number of factors. While it is beneficial for parents to offer some type of explanation to their children, it is recommended that they do not place the blame on one parent. For example, they may choose to tell their kids that they have decided they no longer get along and it would be better if they lived apart, instead of saying that one partner was unfaithful.

Do break the news together

Once couples have made the decision to divorce, it is normal for them to want to put some space between them. However, it is important for them to come together for their children when it comes time to discuss the end of their marriage. By sitting down to talk to their kids together, parents may convey to them that they will continue to be there for them and will put their needs first.

Additionally, it is suggested that parents tell all their children together to avoid sending the wrong message or placing an unnecessary burden. They may choose to follow up individually with each child to assess their feelings and how they are coping.

Do not avoid kids' questions

Either immediately or after the news has set in, children may have questions. Some may want to know why or whether there is a chance of a reconciliation. Others may be more pragmatic, asking if they must move or switch schools or what the custody and parenting time arrangement will be. Within reason and to the best of their ability, parents are recommended to answer their kids' questions. Addressing their concerns may help them to better process and deal with the split.

Do allow children to react

Just as adults process information and experiences differently, so too do children. When telling their kids that they are planning to divorce, it is suggested that parents be prepared for an array of emotions. Some children may be relieved or indifferent, while others may be angry or sad. Even if it upsetting to them, people are advised to allow their children to have their reactions, this may help them to process and deal with the news.

Going through the divorce of their parents, at any age, can be a trying experience for children in Texas and elsewhere. In order to help alleviate the potential for draw out disputes, it may be beneficial for divorcing parents to obtain legal representation.