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Telling Your Children About Divorce in Ohio

Jim Robenalt Dec. 13, 2023

While studies suggest that children of divorce tend to adjust to their new reality within two years, it’s still incredibly important that you handle telling your children about divorce with care.

Because, as specialists in divorce mediation in Ohio, we know that when parents decide to get a divorce, one of the most difficult conversations they will have is telling their children. We have seen parents struggle with this and are here to help you navigate the process.

After all, it’s hard enough for kids to deal with the news that their parents are splitting up, but when they have to hear it from Mom and Dad, it can be traumatic. If you’re uncertain about how to break the news to your children or what to say, here are some tips that may help.

How Divorce Mediation Involves Children

Divorce mediation is a process through which couples who are divorcing can reach agreements on various issues, such as child custody and property division.

Overall, the divorce mediation process in Ohio is typically less expensive and quicker than going to court, and it can be less emotionally charged than traditional divorce proceedings. What can you expect from a typical mediation process for family law?

In divorce mediation, a mediator helps the divorcing couple negotiate the terms of their divorce, such as child custody arrangements, division of assets, and alimony. If you are a couple and you have children, the mediator may also help you develop a parenting plan. 

This plan can include things like:

  • Where the children will live

  • How they will spend holidays

  • How the family will divide vacation time

  • How you will divide responsibilities as parents

The goal of divorce mediation is to help you reach an agreement that is fair to both parties and that takes into account the needs of your children.

The End of a Marriage: When to Tell Your Children

Divorce mediation might sound helpful once you’re in the process of divorcing. However, when should you tell your children about your decision? The honest answer is that divorce and the family dynamics that are involved in the process of divorce are particular to each family.

There truly is no easy answer, as every child will react differently. In general, it is best to have a frank discussion with your children once you have decided to divorce. This way, they can hear about the news from you directly, and you can answer any questions they may have. 

If possible, try to avoid having this conversation in front of other people, as your children may feel embarrassed or exposed. It is also important to emphasize that the divorce is not their fault. 

Reassure your children that you both still love them and that they will always be a part of your lives. By handling the situation with sensitivity, you can help make the transition easier for everyone involved.

However, in most cases, we’ve found that it’s best to tell children about your decision before you make any drastic changes. This means telling them about the divorce before one partner moves out or before anything in your home life changes. Give them time to emotionally prepare.

5 Tips for Breaking Difficult News

No one said that breaking difficult news is going to be easy, especially when children are involved. But there are some steps you can take to make it a little bit easier on everyone. 

Namely, it’s important to be honest with your children. Explain to them what is happening and why. This will help them understand the situation and hopefully make the transition a little bit easier. It’s also important that you remain calm and open-minded throughout the conversation. 

Children will often pick up on their parent’s emotions, so try to stay positive. Finally, be prepared to answer any questions they may have. This is a tough time for everyone involved, but by following these steps, you can help make it a little bit easier for your children.

As you plan the conversation ahead of time, here are five tips that can help you break difficult news to children during divorce proceedings or the mediation process.

1. Plan the Conversation

We never recommend heading into this conversation unprepared. You should sit down with your spouse and talk about what you plan to tell your children. Agree on what you will tell them and what you will keep between you two.

This way, you can anticipate their questions and have some answers ready. You’ll also want to be prepared for their emotions. They might be angry, sad, or even scared.

The most important thing is to reassure them that you both still love them and that they will always be a part of your lives. By taking the time to plan, you can make this tough conversation a little bit easier for everyone involved.

2. Tell Your Children Together 

Parents who tell their children they are getting a divorce together can help keep children from feeling caught in the middle of their parent’s conflict. Often, this can happen when one parent talks to the kids about the divorce without the other parent being present. 

What’s more, telling your children about your divorce together conveys the message that even though you’re getting a divorce, you’re still a team when it comes to parenting. This can be an important lesson for kids as they navigate their relationships later in life. 

So while it may not be easy, sitting down with your ex-spouse and telling your children together that you’re getting a divorce is one of the best things you can do for your kids in the long run.

3. Reassure Your Child

It’s natural to want to reassure your children that it’s not their fault. After all, they didn’t choose this. They didn’t do anything wrong. They need to know that you still love them and that nothing they did cause this.

Reassuring your children can help to alleviate some of the guilt and confusion they may be feeling. It can also help them to understand that this isn’t their fault and that they shouldn’t feel responsible for trying to fix things.

4. Explain the Reasons

You don’t need to go into all of the details, but you should provide them with a general idea of why you and your spouse are no longer going to be together. This will help them to understand the situation and feel more comfortable with the idea of their parents living apart. 

Additionally, it’s important to reiterate (as mentioned above) that the divorce is not their fault. Children often blame themselves for their parent’s divorce, so it’s important to reassure them that this is not the case. 

By explaining the situation in a calm and understanding manner, you can help your children to cope with the news and begin to adjust to the changes that will be taking place in their lives.

5. Talk About a Plan for the Future

Finally, don’t end the conversation open-ended. After dropping such an emotional bombshell on your children, you want them to leave the conversation feeling reassured and safe within the family structure.

So, talk about your plans for the future. This can help them feel more secure during a time of upheaval. Explain that you will still be their parent and that you will always love them. Let them know what to expect in terms of living arrangements, visitation, and holidays. 

Reassure them that they will still see both parents regularly. And finally, encourage them to express their feelings about the divorce.

3 Tips for Helping Children Navigate Divorce

After the divorce mediation process is over, whether it involved your children or not, it’s a good idea to continually check in with your children about their emotions. Just as you won’t emotionally process the divorce immediately, they won’t either.

Once the separation is final, here are a few things you can do to ensure that your child emotionally navigates having divorced parents successfully.

1. Keep Open Lines of Communication

It is essential to keep lines of communication open with your children during this time. Make sure they feel comfortable expressing their feelings. Let them know you’re there to help them process complex feelings that arise.

It’s important to remember that children are often more resilient than we give them credit for. They can handle difficult conversations as long as they feel like they are being listened to and their feelings are being respected. 

4. Maintain a Routine

Even though your life may be in flux after a divorce, it’s important to try to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine for your children. They may already be feeling insecure and uncertain, and a consistent schedule can help provide them with a sense of stability. 

Plus, divorced parents often need to coordinate their schedules to share custody, so having a set routine can make things run more smoothly.

5. Be Patient

It can be easy to become impatient with your children, especially when they are acting out or engaging in behavior that you consider to be unacceptable. However, it is important to remember that your children are going through a tough time as well. 

Their world has been turned upside down, and they may be feeling scared, confused, and even angry. In such circumstances, it is essential to be patient with your children and to try to see things from their perspective.

Work With the Best Divorce Mediator in Ohio

If you’re considering divorce, divorce mediation in Ohio can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible with children. 

With over 15 years of legal experience, we will help you and your spouse communicate and make decisions about important issues, such as child custody, property division, and financial support. 

If you’re interested in divorce mediation in Ohio, contact us today.