Regardless of the reason, divorce is a difficult situation for families to go through. While it isn’t always a pleasant conversation, it’s crucial you talk to your child or children about the divorce between you and their other parent. It’s also essential you talk to them about the custody agreement and how things may change.
How to talk to your child about custody
Remember, custody isn’t something that only affects the adults – it will impact a child’s life in many ways. After all, they are the ones who have to adjust from living in one house with both parents to living in two houses and having, essentially, two different household situations.
Much of what you will say to your children about child custody depends on their age and maturity level, along with their relationships with both parents. While this is true, there are some general tips you can use to help make this conversation a bit easier.
Make it Clear That Both Parents Love Them
One of the first things to reiterate to your child is that both parents love them and want to spend time with them. Making sure they know and understand this is an essential part of discussing divorce and child custody with your little one.
Explain the Visitation Schedule that’s Been Established
You need to make sure your child knows they will get to spend time with both parents, even though you are getting divorced. With this explanation, you will also be informing the child when they will see both of their parents.
When it comes to discussing visitation and how it will work, children need certainty and reassurance. Also, remember, the more information a child has regarding the changes they are going to encounter, the better they can adapt to them as they occur.
Make Sure Your Child Knows They Are Welcome in Both Homes
It’s a good idea to put items that belong to them in both parents’ new homes. This will ensure they feel comfortable and welcome. Don’t overlook the importance of this, as having things that are familiar and comfortable is essential during this transition.
Let the Child Know They Can Visit Either Parent at Any Time
While visitation may only occur at certain intervals, make sure your child knows they can contact or see either parent at any time. There should not be restrictions on when they can speak with or see the other parent.
Listen to and Answer Your Child’s Questions
When talking about child custody with your kids, they are probably going to have questions and concerns. After all, this is completely new to them. Try to be as honest as possible with your youngsters and let them know how things will work using words they understand. Don’t become impatient or irritated with the questions. As mentioned above, at this point, your child will be searching for a sense of certainty and reassurance.
Don’t Argue with the Child’s Other Parent in Front of Them
If you and their other parent work together and appear to be a united front, your kids will feel more at ease. They will also be able to cope with the changes that are occurring more easily. If you fight in front of the child, it could have the opposite effect, so be sure not to do this.
As you can see, there are several things you can do to help your kid feel more at ease with the new child custody arrangement. Be sure to use the tips here, and, if necessary, consider counseling for the child. It may help them talk about their feelings and ask questions they may not be brave enough to ask you.