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The Huffington Post recently posted an article entitled “9 Tips for Breaking Bad News to Kids.” The authors offer advice to parents on how to tell their children that they are getting divorced.
The first recommendation they give is to “write it out.” This is a very serious and emotional conversation that you will partake in, and it is certainly one that should not be done on a whim. Get together with your spouse and figure out together what you want to say. Establishing some important ground rules for the dialogue is important also. For example, agree to not place any blame, fight with each other, or ask your children to pick sides. If you absolutely cannot have the conversation together, make sure that both you and your spouse are abiding by the same rules in your individual conversations with your kids.
Scheduling the conversation is the next tip the Huffington Post suggests. It’s difficult to tell how much time you will need for this talk, but make sure to plan it for a time that you could have at least an hour uninterrupted. You want to leave enough time for your children to react and also to ask any questions they may have. Avoid engaging in this conversation before bedtimes, in the car on the way to school, or just before you have to go to work.
Third, they suggest making sure you are absolutely certain about going through with the divorce before telling your children. If you are still contemplating working it out with your spouse or are still on the fence, don’t tell your kids that you are “thinking about getting a divorce,” it will only scare them. Wait until both you and your spouse are sure.
The next piece of advice the authors give is to “think like a child”. Many children blame themselves for their parent’s divorce and it is important to reassure your kids that it is not their fault, has nothing to do with them, and it is something that you and your spouse decided. Your children could become worried for how the divorce will affect their life, so make sure to offer comfort by letting them know how much you love them, that you both will always be there for them, and that they will still get to spend a lot of time with each of you.
Realizing that this conversation is never really over is another thing the Huffington Post say to keep in mind. It could take a while for your children to fully understand what is going on and new questions can emerge. Be ready to answer any questions your kids might have, and try to give your children as much attention as you can during this transition.
Maintaining a routine is another important tidbit offered by the authors of the article. If possible, keep your child enrolled in the same school and the same after-school activities, encourage your kids to have play dates with their friends. Their lives are going to be changing due to the divorce, so maintaining a routine where it is possible can be extremely helpful for your children’s adjustment.
The next tip is to “include a support system.” Alert your children’s teachers, baby sitters, and parents of their friends. Ask these individuals to keep an eye on your child for any abnormal behavior.
Being honest is another piece of advice offered by the Huffington Post. It is normal and fine to let your children know that you are sad about the divorce. But avoid putting your children in a position where they need to comfort you. They need your comfort more than you need theirs now. Avoid trash-talking your spouse in front of your kids, and do not use them as a messaging service.
Lastly, “know when to ask for help”. Divorce can be overwhelming and emotional for everyone involved, children and parents alike. If you or your child is having a difficult time coping and dealing with the divorce, try reaching out to a therapist who can help.
If you are considering filing for divorce or want to speak to a respected and experienced Long Island divorce attorney to discuss your options, please contact the Law Offices of Jay D. Raxenberg.
Call (516) 491-0565 or toll free at (888) 543-4867.