Talking to your child when he’s angry about the divorce
Divorce is never easy, especially for children. It’s natural that your child may feel angry about the divorce. As parents, the two of you have been the foundation of all that is right in their world. Now that the two of you are divorcing, your child may feel that his world is now crumbling. Talking to your child is an important step in helping them work through their emotions.
Talking to your child, no matter how challenging, may help your child make sense of this difficult time. As parents, it’s important to work through these challenges – giving your child important tools to better deal with the changing family dynamics. Here’s what you should know about talking to your child about divorce.
Talking to Your Child About the Divorce
We know talking to your child about your divorce can be challenging. Many parents struggle to find healthy ways to deal with their child’s anger and other emotional issues during this difficult time. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts for when you’re talking to your angry child about the divorce.
- Do show lots of love and support. It’s important to continue to show and express your love for your children, no matter how hurtful their words or actions may feel to you. Children need to be reassured that both of you will still love them and continue to play an active role in their lives after divorce.
- Do remember that you are the parent. The anger and other emotions your child is feeling shouldn’t be avoided. As a parent, it’s important to continue talking to your child to teach them what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. Parents should comfort and guide their children; children should not be put in a position of having to take care of their parent.
- Do engage in open and honest communication. Parents should be open and honest when talking to their children, without providing them too much “adult” information. Be willing to listen to their questions and respond with honest, age-appropriate answers.
- Do create a parenting plan. Parents should work together to create a parenting plan that meets the needs of the children first. Despite the fact you will no longer be married, you are still parents with children who need you both.
- Don’t take things personally. Talking with your child about divorce may be difficult, but keep in mind their anger may be coming from a place of fear. Wear thick skin but don’t allow disrespect towards you as the parent.
- Don’t internalize things. It’s important for you to deal with the emotional turmoil of your divorce and changing family dynamics. It’s also important to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being so that you can be the best you to help the rest of your family.
- Don’t talk down to or be Dismissive with your child. Children should feel as if they are being heard and that their feelings are respected. Be sure to address their concerns and emotions in an honest, age-appropriate manner.
The Collaborative Process Supports the Entire Family
The collaborative divorce process fosters a cooperative environment for families to learn how to properly deal with this difficult time in their lives. Although the parents will make decisions, the whole family can be involved in the collaborative process – working to create a parenting plan – and future – that works for everyone.
A collaborative divorce can make things easier for everyone, including your children. Contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices to learn how we can help.
Monica Donaldson Stewart is the managing attorney for the law firm of Donaldson Stewart PC, where she practices in all aspects of family law, including collaborative divorce and family law mediation.