Research shows that children of divorced couples are as psychologically sound as those who come from intact family units. However, as the Huffington Post online reports, they also tend to experience “lingering distress” for years after their parents split.
The main reason this seems to happen is because most parents do not talk to their children about their breakup. One study has shown that “less than 20% [of young adults from divorced families] said that both of their parents had talked to them in advance of the divorce” and that “only 5% reported that they had ever been given an opportunity to ask questions” about the process. This lack of communication creates “anxiety and helplessness” in children.
By contrast, those children whose parents do include them in the conversation about divorce reported “less painful memories and more positive attitudes” about their parents’ breakup. Following are some tips to help you decide what your children need to know about an impending divorce and how much say they should have in the matter:
- Once you and your spouse have definitively decided to call it quits, tell your children. If they are young, it may be easier to tell them that “Mommy and Daddy may not be living together but that [they] will be with one or the other parent at all times.”
- Give your kids a chance to ask questions, such as those pertaining to possible moves, school and schedule changes.
- Accommodate their wishes as much as possible. That way, they’ll feel more in control of what’s happening to them and that their opinion counts.
Divorce marks the beginning of a sometimes painful adjustment period not just for the parents, but also any children they may have. If you are looking to dissolve your union, seek qualified legal assistance to help you and your spouse reorganize your lives—but don’t forget your children in the process. What they don’t know and aren’t given a chance to express about a divorce can hurt them in the long run.