Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Know the Divorce Don’ts When Telling the Children

If divorce is frightening to most Houstonians, it is doubly so for children. We have seen the stigma of divorce removed over the past 30 years. With this change in societal attitudes, children’s fears have also shifted.

Children used to name things like monsters, animals, dark, strangers, and high places among the top 10 things that made them fearful. Today, children, whether toddlers or teenagers, cite items such as separation, kidnapping, being alone, being rejected, cancer, pollution, and divorce in their top 10 fears.

The thought of losing one or both parents scares children. It doesn’t matter whether your children are 9 or 19; they still become frightened when their parents announce their break up. They worry that they caused your split, that they will be separated from their parents and/or siblings, and one or both parents do not or will not love them.

Don’t be naïve to think that your divorce will not affect your kids. According to many experts, divorce is the #1 life event that causes permanent emotional scars. How you tell your children that you are divorcing can greatly impact their self-confidence and self-esteem. Your child’s fear and diminished self-confidence following the news can manifest itself in undesirable acting out, and can ultimately affect the child’s own ability to form and stay in stable, loving relationships further down the road.

It’s important to plan what you are going to tell your children. It’s best if you and your spouse can present a united front and agree on what to say beforehand. You and your spouse should not contradict the other when you break the news. If you can’t talk to the children together as a couple, try to come to an agreement on what you will tell them.Conflicting messages amplify to your child’s anxiety.

Children are owed certain divorce rights. Child professionals agree that you should not

  • Tell your children until you’re 100% certain that you will be getting a divorce. Telling your children about an impending divorce when you are not sure will cause them unnecessary panic.
  • Bad-mouth your spouse. If you speak poorly of your spouse, they feel as if you’re asking them to take sides.
  • Make the moment public. Instead, wait for a calm period when you have the time to talk to your children and answer all the questions they will have.
  • Tell the kids and then disappear.
  • Tell your kids all the details. Answer their questions, be honest, but intensely personal questions should be answered that you’d rather not discuss it. Children have the distinct ability to see right through a lie. Keep your own negative feelings to yourself such as I’ll never find love again, or your spouse cheated and is to blame.
  • Tell the kids nothing’s going to change, because it is going to. Instead, emphasize your divorce affect your and your spouse’s love for them.

If you avoid the don’ts when telling the children about divorce, you pave the way to their adjustment to the new situation. Listen what they have to say. Ask them questions about their feelings, their views of what a family is supposed to be like. Reassure them with what you know and help equip them to face the unknowns.

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C.
Houston Divorce Attorneys

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