Being Your Kids’ Sounding Board During Divorce

mom-and-tween-talkingWhen you tell your kids that you’re getting a divorce, you’ll probably experience a wide range of shared emotions. That’s completely normal. After all, divorce has a profound effect on your life, and you can expect that it will on theirs, too. Your children may need you to serve as their sounding board during your divorce—from the moment they learn that you’ve talked to a Durham divorce lawyer and long after your divorce is final—and that can be a bit harder than it sounds.

Children as Negotiators
Many parents report that kids try to negotiate their way through the impending divorce. Children might offer their suggestions on how you can stay married, give you incentives or simply try to take charge and deny you permission. Let your kids say what they need to say without interruption. Then explain that you and your spouse have already made a decision, it won’t change, and that it’s in the family’s best interests.

If you and your spouse have already worked out a child custody agreement, you can explain that to your kids as well. Make sure they know that even though your married relationship is changing, nothing will affect how much you love them or how involved you’ll continue to be in their lives.

Letting Children Express their Anger
Divorce often brings out anger, even in the most even-tempered kids. While no child behaves the same as another (any parent with more than one can attest to that), younger kids generally express anger through tantrums or developmental regression, like losing potty skills or picking up an old thumb-sucking habit.

Older children may absorb blame or become rebellious. In many cases, older kids side with one parent and become angry at the other. It’s generally a good idea to talk to the kids about their anger and their resulting behaviors, but keep it age-appropriate.

Your kids might not realize that they’re angry, or they may not feel comfortable discussing their emotions with you. You can break the ice and help them express themselves by saying something like, “I think if I were in your shoes, I might feel angry about my parents divorcing. Do you ever feel angry?”

Listening to Kids’ Questions about Divorce
You probably have several questions that only your Durham divorce lawyer can answer. Likewise, your kids probably have countless questions for you.  You don’t have to have the perfect answers, or even the answers they want to hear. Active and patient listening validates your kids’ concerns and helps them feel secure in themselves both during and after your divorce.