When to tell children about divorce

When should you clue in your kids to the major change of divorce?

legal kids divorce

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  (WOTV)- One of the many things that summer brings is an increase in divorce.  This is likely due to parents waiting until their children are out of school before they go ahead with their decision to divorce their spouse.

A frequently asked question is when should I tell my children about the decision to divorce?  The leading experts on children in divorce, Judith Wallerstein, Phd and Sandra Blakeslee, address this very question in their book, What About The Kids? (What About The Kids? : Raising your children before, during and after divorce, Hyperion, 2003)  According to them, “The kindest and most important thing you can do for your children is to tell them what is happening in the family before it comes apart.”  It is a matter of trust.  Young children rely on their parents to protect them from the world and if they feel you kept them in the dark, knowing divorce was about to occur, their very foundation is shaken.  Teens feel betrayed.

The best time to tell your kids, Wallerstein and Blakeslee say, depends on their age.  If you have children who are five or younger, a day or two ahead of separation is best.  School age children need a few days to a week to absorb what is happening and adolescents need at least two weeks.  This gives teens a chance to discuss their feelings with friends and reflect on what it means for their lives going forward.  Don’t be surprised if they already know what is going on, however.  Often they pick up snippets of conversation or one parent has used them as a sounding board and confidant.

It is never an easy task to tell your children that their parents are separating and the marriage is ending, but they will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are aware that this decision will impact their lives as well as your own.

Nothing herein constitutes a legal opinion.




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