How to tell your children and deal with the fallout

Chris Huhne the former cabinet minister has been all over the papers, this week for his speeding ticket disaster, but also because of the sad demise of his relationship with his son Peter, manifested in the text messages that were published following his divorce and the recent trial, which showed the anger and despair of both father and son as their relationship declined into vitriol and regret.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce, deciding how and when you will tell your children is an issue for many parents.

Your children may already be aware that yourself and your spouse are not getting on, and may even welcome the idea that their parents will no longer be living under the same roof.

However, some children may not be aware of any issues between their parents, and the mention of divorce can therefore come as a big shock to them.

Regardless of whether they are relieved or not, the impact of a divorce can be just as painful for them as it is for you; it is therefore important that both you and your partner, in spite of your personal feelings towards one another, take the right steps to ensure your children are guided through the divorce process properly.

There is no right or wrong way to inform your children that their parents are divorcing.

Unfortunately there is no easy way either.

How and when you decide to tell them is down to a number of factors.

You should take age, maturity, and the family dynamics within the household, as well as your own preferences into consideration when deciding how to break the news to them.

The circumstances surrounding your divorce, whether amicable or not, should never be revealed to your children.

If yourself and your partner have kept your conflicts low key, the children may not have even thought of the possibility of their parents not being together. Essentially, this could upset the children even more, with the notion being such a shock to them.

On the other hand, if the home environment has been rife with tension and conflict between the parents, they may come to accept the idea much easier than children who have been completely protected from any ill feeling.

This does not mean, however, that they will cope with the idea of a divorce any easier.

It is imperative that you support them and answer their questions; they are going through the divorce with you, too.

It is never going to be acceptable to involve your children in any dispute you are having with your spouse.

Making degrading comments or presenting information in a negative light will no doubt affect the relationship the children have with the other parent.

When all is said and done, the reason for divorce, whatever it may be, does not take away the parents right to have a relationship with their child.

Don’t make your fight their fight too; it will hurt them and the relationships with both you and their other parent in the long run.

One worry that the children will have when you tell them you are getting a divorce is where they will live and who with, how the separation will affect their daily life, and how they will maintain good relationships with both parents.

You can involve them in the process of setting up a schedule if they wish to be included, however, this can be tough as neither the children or the adults should dictate who sees who and when.

Joint discussions with the children should only be had if you and your spouse can be civil with one another.

Again, involving them in any personal conflict is unacceptable, and will only damage their own confidences and self esteem within the family unit.

You may get a range of reactions from your children, so consider each one before you tell them.

As long as you can work together as parents rather than as a married couple, the children can be guided through the process, and can therefore better adjust to the divorce.

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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