If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce one of the many issues you will need to decide is how much information to tell your children. Whether or not to tell a child the details of the divorce break-up will no doubt depend on the ages of the children, but some couples argue the most important thing is to protect the children and make sure they understand how much they are still loved, despite the inability of the parents to continue to live with each other.
Experts tend to agree. In fact, experts argue whether or not to tell the children the reasons for the divorce depends on the age of the child, the reasons for the break-up and their ability to understand it.
What are children really asking?
Experts also suggest parents need to be aware of what a child is really asking when they want more details about the divorce. They child is probably less interested in the ins and outs of a potential affair and more interested in whether or not the parents will find a way to stay together.
It’s also important that if the marriage is over you don’t get into a discussion with children about why it happened or how to fix it but reiterate how much you both love them. The last thing a child needs is to feel like it’s their fault or they need to become a marriage counselor to repair their parent’s marriage.
Placing blame on the other spouse for the divorce
Another issue experts warn against is placing blame on one spouse. It may be tempting to point fingers and place blame for the break-up of the marriage on one spouse, especially if one spouse was unfaithful, but if infidelity is involved it’s especially important to keep the reasons the marriage ended in very general terms. No seven year old wants details about how mom wasn’t sexually responsive and daddy got fed up with relationship and had an affair with another woman.
If you are unsure how to deal with difficult questions from your children it’s time to speak to a family counselor. An independent, objective, third party counselor can offer good advice for most children.
Give more information as the child ages
Divorce can be devastating for children. Parents must take the right steps to provide stability, ensure the parental bond isn’t going to break, and offer as little interruption as possible. It’s also important to maintain good contact arrangements and co-parenting communication as well as eliminate conflict. But what should you tell your child as they age and continue to have questions about the divorce?
While experts are clear that young children don’t need all the details of a break-up, grown children of divorced couples have started speaking out and the consensus seems to be that more information may need to be provided as a child ages.
For instance, one blogger noted that by the time she was fifty eight years old and her mother was on her death bed she believed she needed a more rational explanation for her parent’s divorce than she received as a young child. Her voice echoed those of many other grown children asking for parents to simply be honest about the divorce. The fact she felt her mother never was honest with her about the divorce made this young woman question other things that might have been hidden from her. Others disagreed, arguing that regardless of the age of the children, children have the tendency to want to fix the problems.
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