If you are the parent of a five-to-eight-year-old, this can be a heart-wrenching conversation. They really cannot understand the magnitude of it, but with intentional kindness and planning ahead, you can reduce the emotional impact on your child.
The most important tip is to never disparage each other in front of your child. Do not blame or put it all on one person. Use these tips instead.
1. Keep it simple
Use words that are simple and age-appropriate, such as these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Avoid using legal terms or complicated explanations. Focus on explaining that the family will no longer live together but that you still love your child.
2. Reassure your child in a calm tone
It is natural for children to feel anxious or uncertain when they learn that their parents are getting divorced. It is important to reassure your child that you both love them and will always be there for them, even if you are no longer living together.
3. Emphasize that it is not the child’s fault
Children often blame themselves when their parents get divorced. They will need to hear, over and over again, that it had nothing to do with them and that they should not worry.
4. Encourage open communication
Encourage your child to ask questions and express their feelings about the divorce. It is important to listen to your child and provide support and comfort as they process this major change in their family.
5. Seek professional help
If your child is struggling to cope with the divorce, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a therapist or counselor. A professional can provide support and strategies for helping your child adjust to the changes in their family.