It is only natural for children to want their parents and family to stay together, so dashing that dream by telling them about an impending divorce is likely to hit them hard. At 7 years, some kids may already know what divorce is, especially if they have friends whose parents are divorced. At this stage, kids are more interested in the way their lives will be affected by the divorce. They’ll want to know where they’ll go to school and live, or if they’ll still be able to play with their friends and have birthday parties. So, be ready to answer these questions. There is no perfect way to break the news about a divorce to your 7 year old child but these tips can help relieve his pain:
Choose The Timing Carefully
Refrain from talking to your child about the divorce until you and your spouse are very sure that the decision is final. The best time to break the news would be after you’ve signed the divorce agreement and one of you is ready to move out. However, be sure that this is not done on the eve of an important activity in your child’s life such as his exams, graduation, school games and birthday party, or right before you go to work. It is better to choose a moment when both of you are fully available to offer reassurances and plenty of hugs to your child.
Present A United Front
Even if you and your other half don’t agree on anything, it’s still very important that you try to agree on what to tell the child about the divorce. This isn’t the time for bitterness or accusations. It is a time to reassure the child of your unconditional love and support, so break the divorce news as a team. Use “we” when explaining yourselves to let the child know that this is a joint decision that mommy and daddy has made. Talking to him together helps both to avoid confusion and preserves the sense of trust that he has in both of you.
Keep Things Simple
Speak in simple terms that the child can understand, limiting the explanations to not more than a few words. For instance, you can start by telling him that mommy and daddy have decided not to live together anymore. Then go ahead and explain to him your reasons for doing so in a clear and honest manner. If the child has seen you arguing a lot lately, acknowledge that fact and let him know that you’re doing what is best for the family. It is best to hold such a conversation after knowing when the visitation times and days will be, so you can share those details with him. Knowing that he’ll be able to spend time with both of you will provide him with some comfort during this trying time.
Spare Him The Details
Avoid over sharing the details of the divorce to your kid. He either won’t understand much about what you’re talking about, or he’ll resent you for bad mouthing the other parent. So, avoid things like discussing legal issues or talking bad about your spouse in the child’s presence.
Let Him Know It’s Not His Fault
Kids like blaming themselves when their parents breakup. For instance, they might think that it’s because they don’t perform well in school or clean their rooms. So, make it clear to him that the divorce has nothing to do with him or any of you. Make the reason for the breakup external. For instance, you can say – your mom/dad is a great person but we just grew apart overtime.
Overall, how you explain to your 7 year child about your divorce (before, during and after) will determine how he will cope with the situation in the long run. The most important thing is to reassure him that mommy and daddy will always be his parents and that they will love and care for him no matter what.