Going through a separation or divorce can be a difficult and painful experience for the family.
Being a father, breaking the news to your children can be a daunting task. Family circumstances vary and even children of different ages in the same home can react in vastly different ways.
No matter the age, it is important to be prepared and have the talk in a calm, collected manner. Make sure that you are receptive and understanding of their needs and have answers to their questions.
Children in this age group are more developed in their understanding of relationships. They can identify and talk about feelings even though some of them may not want to.
Daddy's Digest has put together a few pointers to help fathers approach the subject of divorce with their 5-10-year olds.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Avoid talking to your children until the decision is final and you have discussed a plan of action with your spouse.
2. Before having the first conversation, make sure that your child has enough time to process all the information without it becoming overwhelming.
3. Explain things in simple and straightforward terms, using a calm and reassuring tone, including why you have arrived at this decision, how things will pan out and what the arrangements will be as it pertains to them.
4. Prepare them ahead of time for the changes that are to come and reassure them of what will not change, like your time, attention and affection towards them.
5. Make sure they know that this was your decision and their behaviour or actions have nothing to do with it.
6. Ask them if they have any questions and be prepared with short clear answers.
7. Encourage your child to express their emotions and share their feelings with you without shutting them down. Be receptive and supportive of what they are going through without judgement or criticism. Spend quality time with them during this period, offering them extra attention and care.
8. Help your child feel more secure by maintaining their regular routines of mealtimes, bedtime, school and other activities.
9. Watch out for signs of anger, mood swings, anxiety and irritability, especially when they are at school and interacting with other children.
Our guide outlines the facts based on research from several online and offline resources. If you are in doubt or worried about your child for any reason, consult with a qualified and certified mental health professional or medical doctor.
Reviewed by: Jason Eric Ross, PhD, LMHC
Date reviewed: 29th December, 2018