Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Speaking to Children About Divorce

Speaking to your children about divorce can be an extremely difficult process. Parents often disagree on the amount of knowledge children should have about the divorce process and what his/her parents are going through. Some parents feel that the children should be fully informed regarding the status of the divorce (i.e. when the parents are going to court, what the issues are, etc.) while others believe that children don't need to know anything other than the existence of a pending divorce.  Depending on the child's age, it is advised that children not be given detailed information about the pending proceedings, as that will likely cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Likewise, children should not be left in the dark about his/her parent's relationship. It is important to let children know that a divorce is taking place, but it is difficult to determine the right way to do it. Should the parents talk to the children individually? Should there be a family meeting? Is this something that is better handled in therapy or even with the assistance of a favorite teacher? There is no right answer, but fortunately there are some tools to help.

Sesame Street has recently released a series of videos and other tools to help children understand that they are not alone, and that it is OK to have and share certain feelings about the process. Showing children these videos may help prepare them for an open conversation about the pending divorce, or may help to follow-up with a conversation that has already taken place. You can find a link to these videos here.

In addition to the Sesame Street videos, there is a large amount of literature available to help parents address the divorce process with their children, as well as books specifically catered to children of divorce. Some of my recommendations include:

  • Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman;
  • Divorce is Not the End of the World: Zoe's and Evan's Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe and Evan Stern;
  • Two Homes, by Claire Masurel

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1 comment:

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