How to Tell the Child of the Divorce Decision

Marriage union, which was established to establish a family and create new generations, sometimes does not continue throughout life as imagined and results in divorce.

Not meeting expectations such as love, intimacy, trust and respect adequately, economic problems, indifferent and hurtful behavior of spouses towards each other, cheating, family interventions in marriage, educational and cultural differences, addictions, sexual problems cause the marriage to end.

Making a Divorce Decision

It is difficult to decide on divorce, especially when it comes to children. In fact, most of the time, marriages are continued just for this reason. However, a healthy divorce is always better for the child than for the marriage to continue in a negative way. Because children model their experiences. Even if there is no violence in the home, tension, conflict or distance between parents causes children to realize that things are not going well and cause them to worry.

Points to Consider in the Divorce Process

Above all, it is very important to be honest and sincere with children. Before talking about divorce, decisions must be made, plans must be made. Clear and simple information should be given about what happened and what will happen next. It should be said that this situation is difficult for everyone, but in time they will get used to the new situation. Children often question why their parents divorced, whether it has anything to do with them, what will happen to them next, where and with whom they will live, the frequency of meeting with the other parent, and the changes they will encounter. It is necessary to be prepared for these questions and to have decided on each of them. Simple, clear and correct answers should be given to the questions. Talking about parents without blaming each other and telling them that divorce is a joint decision helps reduce the child’s anxiety. Uncertainties about the post-divorce period, mutual accusations cause anxiety, and anxiety causes adjustment and behavior problems.

How should the child be told?

The child experiences a feeling of ‘abandonment’ and a ‘sense of division’ as the relationship between his parents begins to deteriorate. For this reason, when explaining the concept of divorce, the child should first be made to feel that he will remain in an environment of trust.

Should Every Detail Be Explained?

Although the decision to divorce has been made, the process of divorce and after is a difficult period for everyone. Until they get used to the new situation, children often ask their parents why they are getting divorced. It is extremely worrying for children of any age to describe in detail all the happenings and the reasons for the divorce. Preschool children have difficulty in understanding and listening to long and detailed explanations in terms of their verbal skills. In older children, the details of what happened cause confusion and increased feelings of guilt. For this reason, the divorce process should be explained using simple and clear expressions without going into details.

Post Divorce

The way and frequency of meeting with parents of children after divorce should be regular and specific. Often, children stay with their mother during the weekdays and school times, and with their father during weekends and holidays. In some special cases, the opposite is also true. As long as this situation is regular, the child will not experience any loss in modeling since he or she will spend time with both parents. However, if, for any reason, one of the parents does not want to meet with the child or delays the meeting time, the child will feel abandoned by his parents. A child abandoned by one parent begins to worry that he will be abandoned by the other parent. A child who cannot spend enough and quality time with his/her mother or father may experience loss of model. In this case, models that can replace the mother or father can fill the place of the parent. This model can sometimes be within the family, and sometimes it can be people outside the family, such as a teacher or sports coach.

Child’s Age

The division of family unity affects children at any age. Reactions vary according to the age, gender, emotional state of the child and the support they receive from their parents. It is normal and expected for the child to react to the new situation. However, the intensity and duration of the reaction is important.

Young children have symptoms such as not wanting to be separated from their parents, sleep and eating problems, pee/poop incontinence, harming their peers, withdrawing and appearing sad, moody, masturbation, while older children feel responsible for divorce, anxiety, depression, introversion, etc. Problems in the form of hyperactivity, anger, adjustment problems, decrease in academic achievement, conflict with authority are encountered. In some children, psychosomatic diseases such as headache and stomachache, nausea can be seen as a result of the inability to express their emotions.

When parents get expert support on how to explain the situation, what kind of reactions they may encounter and how to manage the process from the moment they decide to divorce, divorce will be a more manageable situation for both them and the child.

Suggestions for Parents:

  • Explain the decision to divorce together. If one of the parents has difficulty in talking and explaining the situation, the only parent can explain the decision and what will happen afterwards in the environment where both parents are present.

  • Say that divorce means the end of the marriage, that the parents will no longer live in the same household.

  • It should be emphasized that it will continue to be a mother and father especially to children in the pre-school period.

  • Children often ask the reason for the divorce. Telling the details at any age will increase the child’s anxiety and damage the feelings of trust, love and respect for the other parent.

  • Do not compete to take care of your child, spend time and meet all his needs. This will result in emotionally exhausting your child. The real situation that will harm your child is when the disagreement and friction between the two parents is so obvious and turns into a rivalry.

  • Do not hesitate to get help in the divorce process for both yourself and your child. Being strong is not measured by your avoidance of getting help. On the contrary, you and your child’s quality of life after this process will increase with the help you will receive.

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