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Communicating the Divorce to Your Kids

December 28, 2015

Communicating the Divorce to Your KidsOne of the crucibles of adulthood is that we are expected to live our lives with evidence that we are capable of empathizing with others. Empathy is a mark of our ability to connect with and encourage the positive development of others. And no “others” are more important than our children.

When divorce becomes an unavoidable reality for you and your spouse, it can be extremely difficult to find your own capacity for empathizing with the spouse from whom you are divorcing. And though it may not be desirable, you can probably get through your divorce process without empathizing with your spouse. The same choice should not be made as it regards your children. No matter how much animosity you may feel for your spouse, your children should be given your most concerted effort to empathize with their experience.

Important Messages To Communicate To Children Regarding Divorce

For your children, your divorce is a disruption of patterns that they will almost certainly interpret as being their fault. It is in the nature of children to consider themselves the sources of problems between their parents. To successfully empathize with your children is to communicate to them your understanding of their experience with the divorce, and to find the best possible way of communicating to them that the divorce is not their fault.

Depending on your children’s level of development, this process can be extremely difficult. The staff of Johnson Mediation can assist you in finding the best way to communicate with your children in ways that mitigate the impact of your divorce on their perceptions of the changes they are experiencing.

Johnson Mediation can be helpful in reinforcing these important themes:

  • Reassure your children that, no matter what, you will always be there for them. Divorce changes familiar patterns. It does not, however, have to eradicate family.
  • Provide clarity about the reality of the divorce. Gently but firmly providing honest information about your changing relationship will help them adjust and likely help them through feelings of pressure to “fix” your relationship.
  • Demonstrate good listening skills with your children. There is arguably no better way of communicating empathy than by listening.
  • Be clear about the co-parenting plans you and your former spouse are creating. Fudging the truth is a sure-fire way of adding uncertainty to your children’s experience. Be truthful about co-parenting plans.
  • Afford your children the power of choice. To be given a measure of choice in stressful situations empowers us to feel a measure of control. Children of divorce often have greater difficulty when choice is limited. Conversely, the child who has the ability to make choices is likely to adjust better.

If you need support in finding the words to communicate to your kids about your painful divorce, contact Johnson Mediation at 1-952-401-7599.

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