Tips to Keep in Mind When You’re Talking to Children About Divorce. Divorce today is much more common than we’d like it to be. One way or another, your children are very likely to come across it at some point in their lives. As a parent, you would do better not to wait till explaining divorce to your children is not optional. Here are a few things to keep in mind and make sure you discuss when you tell kids about divorce.
What Does Divorce Mean?
Depending on the level of conservativeness of your background, the definition of divorce itself may be biased. Many cultures see divorce as an inherently selfish and insensitive act done by morally loose people. When you’re explaining divorce to your kids, make sure you leave such biases out. It gets easier to tell kids about divorce when you eliminate the hateful and judgemental terms from the discussion.
It’s Not Always Wrong
There’s a lot of social stigma attached to the idea of divorce in most parts of the world even today. The most common reaction to divorce is one of judgement and disapproval instead of empathy and supportiveness. In countries like India where social opinion is more important than personal happiness, this often forces bad marriages to continue. Mention when explaining divorce to your kids that it’s not always wrong, depending on why people get divorced.
Hatred Is Not A Prerequisite
For most people, ‘divorce’ is related with words like ‘fight’, ‘hate’, etc. Society as a whole is inclined to think of divorce as a bitter, negative and painful affair. However, that is not always the case. A big part of explaining divorce to children should be focussing on how hatred is not a necessary part of the process.
Acknowledging Mistakes Is Healthy
Often, married couples realize they’re not compatible, which is a leading cause of divorce. While explaining divorce, remember to discuss the importance of such a realization and the right way to deal with it. It takes immense courage and effort to go through with a divorce, but it’s better than compromising forever. In most cases, it is easier to keep quiet than to acknowledge mistakes in choosing a partner. However, the latter is the healthier option for both partners’ mental well-being.
Divorce and Self Esteem
Any discussion on divorce is incomplete without explaining divorce and its impact on self esteem. Divorce usually has a negative impact on all parties involved - the partners as well as their parents and children. The social stigma of being a divorcee is quite heavy, too, in most cultures. However, sometimes that’s better than the damage a toxic marriage causes to a person’s self-esteem. It’s important to mention this while explaining divorce so your children can form a balanced opinion.
Irrespective of how it is arrived at, a divorce is an emotionally distressing experience for both partners. It’s important for kids to think divorce isn’t always bad, but they must also not take marriage too casually because of it. While explaining divorce to your children, don’t forget to talk about possible steps to avoid divorce. Mediation and marriage counselling are important marital conflict resolution mechanisms that are tried before couples get divorced.
Discussing these things will help your child appreciate the sanctity of marriage while also understanding divorce without bias. Remember not to let your kids believe that divorce is always bad. We hope it never happens but if they get into a bad marriage, this should help them find strength.