You still remember the day you saw your dad walking the narrow sidewalk toward the front door. Hanging his head with the weight of being the one to share the news, his approach was slow. You were 12 and this had not happened to any of your friends, but you knew that something was not right between your parents, and your dad’s news confirmed it. He and your mom had decided to separate. They eventually divorced, but they softened the news by calling it a separation at first. In the 1970s children didn’t see the lawyers, didn’t understand how the settlements worked, you just knew that you and your sister now lived with your mom, only seeing your dad on every other weekend.
Today’s statistics show couples are an average age of 30 when they go through their first divorce, and looking back at the situation, that’s about how old your parents were. A little older, but close to 30. And, it was a first divorce for your father. He would divorce a second time as well. Today, a family law lawyer consultation may have been the first meeting that your parents had attended. And, maybe someone at that meeting would have explained that there were a couple of ways to tell the children. Would have explained this is difficult news for children to hear from just one parent.
It should come as no surprise that in America relationships are fourth on the list for life events that cause the most stress. No wonder. This stress touches half of everyone in the country. In fact, the research indicates somewhere between 40% and 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, and the numbers just get bigger. Nearly 60% of all second marriages do not survive and also end in divorcel. Family law lawyer consultation services begin many of these discussions.
A meeting with a divorce attorney or a child custody lawyers may follow, but the family law lawyer consultation is often the first step. Amidst the questions about child support, alimony, and custody, some consultations may also include a recommendation about how to tell the children about divorce:
- Whatever you do will be remembered. For the rest of their lives, your children will remember the moment you told them about the divorce. This is not a tip so much as a reminder of the gravity of the decision you are making.
- Everyone needs to know. It doesn’t make sense to share the news with the oldest child and shelter the younger sibling. All children in a divorced family will need to grow up in unexpected ways as they deal with divorce. Do not make the oldest child shoulder more responsibility.
- Do not dictate how your children should feel. It is not your job to tell your child that she should feel relieved the fighting is over. Those emotions and reactions must be left to the individual child. Share the news, but do not tell children how they should feel.
- Everyone loses in long drawn out divorces. Financial and custody issues can take forever, but for the sake of your children, find a way to make the process faster and less complicated.
- Make sure that your child has someone to talk to. Pastors, school counselors, or other adults can help your children process the information about divorce.
Nearly 1.5 million children have parents divorce every year. Any divorce involving children needs to include a thoughtful way to help them deal with the news.