Parents who divorce too often focus on their own anger, anxiety, and frustration. Too often, they forget that while they can move on with their lives after a divorce, the lives of their kids can be turned completely upside down. Children of divorce can lose a sense of stability. They often feel pressured to choose between parents. They don’t have the adult skills to manage the conflicts of multiple relationships – one with the mother’s family and one with the father’s family.
Part and parcel of every divorce are the questions about who will have physical and legal custody of the children, and how much child support will be paid or received. Even property division involves the children because the issue with the most priority is, who will keep the marital home? Courts generally prefer to have children attend the same schools and play with the same friends, when they can, so that they have a sense of continuity.
We know it’s a lot to consider. We also know that, even in the most amicable situations, sometimes your kids are going to feel hurt, or confused, or angry. We want to help you address the many emotional and practical issues of a divorce with your kids, so you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse start with a firm foundation for your new lives.
Suggestions for how to talk to your children about divorce
There are a few things you can do to help your kids transition to their new lives. If you can sit down with their other parent to explain it to them, even better.
- Children should understand that the divorce is not their fault. Both parents need to explain to their children that divorces are often about the need for one or both spouses to move their life in a different direction. The children need to understand that the things they said or did not contribute to the fact that their parents are fighting or don’t love each other anymore. Younger children especially have a hard time understanding that sometimes parents just don’t get along.
- Children should understand that sometimes change is for the best. They should be told that just as they change friends and classes, parents sometimes need to change their adult relationships, and that those changes can be better for them, too. Just make sure that your children understand that your feelings for them will not change, no matter what.
- Kids need to know they will be safe. Parents should try to determine as quickly as possible who will have legal and physical custody. Children need to know where they will live on a daily basis, which parents will make decisions for them, and when the other parent will be spending time with them. Kids need to understand that they will be fed, clothed, and have a roof over their heads. They need to know that their parents are interested in their schoolwork, their friends, and their hobbies and interests.
- Children need to understand that eventually things will work out. It helps when parents stop fighting and focus on working out the settlement part of their divorce. It helps when parents go through mediation or counseling, to get a better idea as to how to communicate openly and honestly. The sooner the family law issues can be resolved, the sooner the next part of their lives and the children’s lives can begin.
- Kids need to understand they are loved. Even while the spouses are seeing their lawyers and discussing their relationships with grandparents and other adults, parents need to find time to spend with their kids. Kids need to understand their parents will still be there for their school plays and ballgames. Parents need to show their kids on a daily constant basis that their child’s happiness is their greatest concern.
At the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter, our Knoxville divorce lawyers understand how traumatic a divorce can be for both parents and children. We guide families through each stage of the divorce process. We often give practical advice, along with our legal advice, based on our long experience handling divorce cases. For answers to your divorce questions, call us at 865.272.4454 or complete our contact form to schedule a free appointment. We represent clients who live in Knoxville and the surrounding locations.