Telling the Children About Divorce, and How Collaboration and Mediation May Help
One of the most challenging conversations we have with divorcing parents surrounds their fears about telling their children about divorce.
As their lawyers, we can boil our very best pieces of the advice boils down to two. First, seek out a mental health professional experienced with families and children who can guide you through telling the children. Second, commit to keeping your divorce amicable. Collaborative or mediated divorces can provide you support to remain co-parents through the divorce and into the future. Accordingly, they also encourage a faster, less conflicted divorce.
Get Help From a Mental Health Professional
Mental health professionals have long known two keys to help children better navigate their parents divorce. First, children do better when their parents remain emotionally strong and supportive of their children. Second, children are more impacted negatively by high-conflict divorce than by the divorce itself. A mental health professional provides expertise tailored to your family’s situation and focused on the best approach for your children.
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Read: Settlement & Divorce
Telling the Kids About Your Divorce
If you would like to do some background reading, in Psychology Today, Dr. Kevin Arnold gave six tips on telling the kids and having a child-centered approach throughout the process. For example, he recommends you “give much thought to the setting and circumstances when you break the news” and “not to assume how children will react, and let them feel all the feelings, even when those feelings are confusing to you.”
Another point Dr. Arnold makes is, “When you decide to end the marriage, end it swiftly. Then, no one will win either way.”
“Financial and parenting issues take on a life of their own during a divorce. Some divorces take years to settle the issues-often more because one or both parents feel the need to win. For children, the never-ending divorce feels like a 12-hour drive to Disney World done in one day: uncomfortable and interminable.
In the Utah study, one child said, “Get on with it.’”
Consider Collaboration or Mediation
In addition to recommending that couples not allow their divorce to drag on, Dr. Arnold emphasizes that children benefit from a “united message delivered by both parents-children feel less disturbed when parents exhibit this kind of maturity.”
In her “Guide to Telling the Children about the Divorce” and “A Good Problem to Have: Family Togetherness Post-Divorce,” Dr. Lisa Herrick agrees that choosing collaboration or mediation as opposed to a traditional, litigious divorce can help spouses transition into successful co-parents. From telling the kids, treating each other well through a divorce, and “maintaining a close and friendly connection as the children grow up,” collaborative divorce and mediation can assist parents committed to helping their children adapt more quickly to a stressful time in the family’s life.
Learn More About Telling Your Kids About Divorce
Please get in touch with us at Freed Marcroft for more information about what collaborative divorce and mediation are and how they work.