Today, approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. While your marriage may still be going strong, it is likely that at some point, someone your child is close to will experience a divorce. For children, the idea of two people separating can be a difficult concept to grasp. Young children also tend to lack the ability to verbally express the mixed emotions they may feel in response to the divorce. Here are four suggestions for you to use when explaining a family member’s divorce to your children that will help them adjust to the new living arrangement.
Choose an Appropriate Time
Before talking to your child, it is important to make sure they are not likely to be distracted. Make sure your child is not hungry or overtired. It is also important to choose a comfortable setting where you can talk without interruptions such as their bedroom or the living area of your home. Then, turn off your phone and other electronics so you can focus on helping your child understand the divorce.
Try Drawing a Picture
Child therapists frequently recommend drawing a picture to explain abstract ideas to children. This method works especially well with children who have never been exposed to the idea of divorce. To begin, take a piece of paper and draw a house. Then, draw your family members in the house while explaining to your child who they represent. Next, draw two more houses on the page and draw the family in their separate houses. Finally, explain to your child that they both tried living together in one house but were unable to make it work so now they will live in two houses.
Allow Your Child to Ask Questions
After showing your child the picture, they may have questions. Allow plenty of time for answering their questions and be sure to respond honestly while keeping it age-appropriate. It is also important to avoid sharing your opinions about the divorce. Even if you disliked one of the people involved, it is best to avoid negative comments that could hurt your child’s feelings.
Be Prepared to Revisit the Conversation
It is also important to remember that your child may have more questions as the divorce progresses. If necessary, you can draw another picture to further explain. Alternatively, you can ask your child to draw how they feel about their family’s new homes. Allowing your child to express how they feel will help them to adjust to the idea of divorce.
Although a divorce is never easy to talk about, you should begin preparing your child as soon as your family member has begun to consult a divorce attorney. This way, they will be prepared for the new living arrangement before the divorce is finalized. By using pictures to create a visual image of divorce and remaining open to any questions, you can ease your child’s transition to the new family setting.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents facing difficult conversations.