How to Approach the Conversation of Divorce with Kids

Divorce with Kids

Let’s get real, being a kid currently is hard in ways we never even imagined could exist when we were growing up. Puberty is already a complex issue before we even begin discussing divorce with kids, and it is happening earlier than it did almost a century ago (as noted by 48 Divorce Statistics in the U.S.)

For boys in the early 1900s, the average age of puberty was around 14 years old – now it is around 12. In the same timeframe, the average age for girls has dropped from 16 to around 10 years old. The reasons for this trend are not entirely clear, but theories point to a combination of factors, including changes in diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures. 

Things to Consider Before Discussing Divorce with Kids

While early puberty is a natural biological process all humans experience, parents must accept that it may be more challenging for children experiencing changing familial relationships. 

In the same vein, children may not want to talk about their parent’s relationship at all because they are unable to see past all that they are going through. Even if they are aware, dealing with added stress and emotional turmoil can exacerbate the challenges of puberty and impact a child’s own social life and relationships.  

Understand Your Child’s Needs

Before discussing divorce with kids, remember that knowledge of resources is a parent’s great tool. When parents know the reality of a child’s biological changes, they can quickly adapt to have a positive impact on their child’s mental health. 

Children understand more or have access to more knowledge through social media than parents can see. Parents show trust in them by giving them cell phones on average at around 11 and a half years old and must be careful about creating dysfunctional feedback loops. For example, asking to see children’s phones every day won’t teach those children how to be better at using social media, it will make them better at hiding it from us. 

When the time comes to discuss divorce with kids, It is imperative to have open and honest conversations with children about directing their newfound autonomy and agency to healthy pursuits. As a bonus, when they don’t feel comfortable, the trusted parent will be their first point of reference for safety rather than someone the parent doesn’t know. 

A Safe and Supportive Approach

Co-parenting is especially important to create a balanced response to these tough questions. Children will have less confusion if both parents are telling the child the same information. With the proper support and resources, children can navigate this period of their lives with confidence and resilience. This may mean educating children about the changes they are experiencing, helping them to navigate the added stress of divorce through therapy, or promoting positive body image and self-esteem (or all of them!). 

It is also important to provide a safe and supportive environment for children to talk about their experiences, ask questions, and express their feelings.  

If you need help creating parenting plans or agreeing on how to manage difficult periods of parenting, we are here to help. Just like you are telling your children, you’re not alone on this journey and resources exist for you. 

By promoting healthy attitudes towards puberty and recognizing children will grow up with or without their parent’s agreement, get what you need to be the strongest parent you can be for them. Contact West Coast Family Mediation Center for a free consultation!

by: Lauren K. Kominkiewicz

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