I will be doing a series of articles about parent’s obligations to their children once it is decided there will be a divorce. A sort of outline for divorcing parents to follow when dealing with the most important aspect of their divorce…their children’s emotional well-being.
- Telling your children about the divorce.
Informing a child that there is going to be a divorce is something parents should do together. You have to be willing to put aside any conflict or discomfort you feel and come together for the sake of your children.
Children need a warning, a heads up that changes are about to happen in their lives and the opportunity to come to terms with those changes. Whatever you do, don’t leave the marriage before telling your children. An abrupt departure from the family by either parent can do grave emotional harm to a child.
- Respond truthfully to any questions your children have.
Children are smart, don’t under-estimate their ability to discern the truth from half-truths or down right lies. Give your children a believable reason for the divorce. If you are the parent who has decided to leave the family be open and honest about that decision and why you are leaving. Lay all your cards on the table and whatever you do, don’t attempt to make yourself look like the good guy.
Children want honesty; they need it. If you are leaving because you’ve found another man or woman, tell your children there is someone else. Assure them that this other person is not a replacement for them, that they are and always will be your number one priority.
Above all else, children need to trust their parents. Parents think they are protecting their children by harboring them from painful realities. In reality, when you lie or cover up the truth with half-truths you are breaking your child’s trust.
Forgiving a parent for an affair or some other transgression is far easier than rebuilding the trust lost when your child discovers he/she has been lied to.Parental Obligations During Divorce Part II