Child Of Divorce: What Not To Tell Them

Divorce is hard on everyone, but especially on children. Here are a few things you should never say to your child about divorce.

Divorce is a difficult situation, at best, for everyone. Tempers flare, feelings are hurt, emotions rage just below the surface. It is hard enough for the ones involved to fully understand and accept what is going on. If one of those involved is a child, the emotional upheaval is multiplied many times over.

Children are not equipped to handle adult problems. It is not fair to expect them to. Yet many people make the awful mistake of discussing marital difficulties with their children. This puts the child in the middle--a terrible place to be for an innocent party who unconditionally loves both parents.

True, there are some things a child has to be told about divorce. It will have to be explained why they may be moving out of their home, or why one parent is moving away and setting up a household elsewhere. They need to understand that Mom or Dad won't be sleeping at their house any more, but that the absent parent still loves them as much as ever. It is important to explain what is going on to children in words they can understand. And while there are so many things a child of divorcing parents needs to be told, there is a whole set of things they should NOT be told.

Never tell the child the divorce is his or her fault.

Never say bad things about the other parent to the child.

Never ridicule the other parent in front of the child.

Never gripe and complain about the amount of child support to be paid.

Never discuss sticky legal issues with the child.

Never say "If you had been a good boy (or girl) this wouldn't have happened!"

Never use guilt to try and force the child to choose between his or her parents.

Never make extravagant promises to the child in order to pull him or her away from the other parent.

Using any of the above tactics with a child is like throwing gasoline on a fire. A situation that is already full of stress and grief can turn into something heavier than he or she is equipped to handle. Though it may be tempting to "get at" the other parent through the child, it is important to remember that the child involved is an innocent bystander. Protect him or her from the ugliness of the divorce even though discussion of some parts of it cannot be avoided.

Each child's maturity level is different. This must be taken into consideration when deciding what to tell him or her about the divorce. Even though it may be impossible to continue the marriage, it is vitally important for the child to know and believe that both parents still love and cherish her as much as before. There will be plenty of time in later years to discuss the reasons for the divorce. Concentrate on giving the children involved in the divorce as happy and normal a childhood as possible.

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