Every year in the U.S. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Whatever the reason for the divorce; the effect on the children is always the same. According to a custody attorney in Tampa a child’s first reaction is to ask ‘Why?’ Here are some suggestions on how to handle that all important question:
- If the children are old enough to understand….tell them the truth. The reason will be important at first but, impress upon them it is nothing they have done. The older children will know something is going on even before you make the announcement so trying to hide the truth will only be detrimental to all parties involved.
- There will be a thousand questions after your initial announcement. Very few children will shut down completely. Will we have to move? Can I still stay in my school? How often can I see Dad/Mom? Answer these questions as honestly as possible and if you aren’t sure what will happen tell them so.
- The all important keys in this bumpy road are stability and routine. If both parents previously went to soccer, basketball and ballet that needs to continue. Make a schedule of parental visits and stick to it. If a child knows that he or she will spend the afternoon and evening with dad make sure that it happens.
- Keep all nasty comments between the two of you. If you start bad mouthing the other the child will think you are asking him or her to take sides. Do your best to be partners in parenting.
- If there is another man/woman in the picture don’t expect your children to warm up right away. Too many changes can send anyone’s life into a tailspin. Keep the other person out of the picture for as long as functionally possible.
- Expect there to be some residual effects from divorce. As Einstein said, ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’ This applies to human emotions too. Listen and offer reassurance on a regular basis. Work with your spouse to help cope with the changing portrait of your family.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to ease your child/children into a new lifestyle. Talk to school counselors, teachers and especially your attorney about what to expect from your children. Although your attorney is handling the legal aspects of the divorce he or she may have other resources you can depend on.