Talking to Kids About Divorce

Talking to Kids About Divorce

Di-vorce – the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body.

But what does that mean to a child?

I’d like to start off by saying my husband and I are not getting a divorce! I repeat, Mitch and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and we are NOT getting a divorce.

However, the topic of divorce recently came up in our household, and both of our children were made aware of what the term divorce meant and why we were talking about it.

Tell Them What Divorce Is

While every family has to do what’s right for them (and for their kids) in approaching this topic, we had it a little easier since we weren’t talking about us. But no matter the situation, our priorities were to make sure our kids understood what divorce is, let them ask any questions and reiterate the importance of family.

We wanted to tell our children together, even though they’re at different ages. We felt that they could gain support from each other, which they did— more so my daughter looked up to her brother for understanding. And by doing so, no one felt excluded or that there were secrets because everyone heard the same thing.

Don’t Try to Avoid What’s Happening

Before I get to individual advice points, there was a piece of advice we got that calmed my nerves a great deal. The actual “telling” of the situation to the kids was important, but how we acted moving forward was bigger. At the end of the day, words are words, and they never speak as loudly as actions. We wanted to let them know that we’re still one big family, but things were going to look a little differently for holidays, birthdays and special family occasions.

There were two initial things we explained to our children: who was getting the divorce and the reasons why. The reasons why sounded a bit blunt, but we wanted to be honest. The explanation for it was as accurate as possible without confusing them or being too detailed.

Embrace Their Questions

When we told the children about the split, it led to many more questions. The questions were very practical. They wanted to know things like: Where will each of them be living? Will they still see them? Can they still talk to them? Will they still get presents from them on birthdays and Christmas?

It also provoked some insecurities from them about mommy and daddy’s relationship. Will you and dad split up? If you fight or disagree, is that the start of you both separating too? This led to more conversations about relationships, conflict, resolving conflict, love, marriage, and other issues they wondered about. But in the end, this discussion made us closer as a family.

Whatever you decide to tell your children initially, my guess is that the majority of your discussions with them will be about your own family. We made sure to reassure them that mommy and daddy have a secure and stable relationship and that no matter what, everyone is here for them! Again, making them realize the importance of family does not diminish after a divorce. Our family is strong, and our extended family is still strong—and we are committed to helping them maintain those ties.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

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Seeing a Father’s Love For His Daughter

Seeing a Father’s Love For His Daughter

As I was watching my husband take our daughter’s senior pictures, I realized I am at a crossroads of jealousy and admiration. Jealous of the bond between my husband and our oldest daughter. He witnessed every first in her life: the first time she rolled over, her first word, her first step, her first day in daycare, her first elementary field trip, her first homecoming dance.

Our daughter wants to travel with her dad. She looks for him to get a hug after every softball game. She chooses me when she needs to shop or has forgotten something. She doesn’t even like me going to physical therapy because I talk too much.

He’s Always There for Her

Yet I admire the bond because it’s nothing unique or extraordinary. He has just showed up. He showed up when I returned to work after maternity leave. He showed up when she was a terrible sleeper and would only sleep when he rocked her in her car seat for hours upon hours. He showed up when she wanted to refurbish an old piano bench. He showed up when she wanted to play softball and the team needed a coach. He showed up when she needed a shoulder to cry on after she did terrible on a test. He shows up when our daughter is approaching curfew to make sure she is home safe and sound.

Just by showing up he has taught her many life lessons. What I have noticed the most are the lessons to love, to be adventurous and to radiate confidence.

He’s an Incredible Model of Support

We all see how my husband has modeled love to his family and his profession. He does not miss any of our children’s events. Even when he cannot physically be there, he shows up virtually and sends text messages before and after to show his support. Our daughter sees the value and the importance of showing up, as she has commented: “I don’t want to miss anything of my kids’, just like you, Mom and Dad.”

“Go on the adventure. Try it. Let’s do this.” From $100 adventure days to trying new foods to traveling, my husband has instilled a sense of adventure in our daughter. It’s both of them that now drive our family’s traveling experiences. Even when my husband takes her up a 700-foot tower just to see the views or try Pickled Wrinkles, he is encouraging her to appreciate life beyond our little town. I pray no one ever takes away the sense of wonder, the sense of curiosity and the sense of adventure he has taught her.

He’s Helped Bolster Her Confidence

Even though our daughter does not have the confidence to decide where or what she wants to eat, that is completely overshadowed by the confidence she radiates in other circumstances. When our daughter wanted to learn how to play softball, my husband was there to play catch with her each day and to coach her. Now when she steps in the batter’s box or centerfield, you can see the confidence in her eyes. When she wanted to learn about photography, he spent hours helping her develop this skill. Now when she is behind the lens, you can see her smiles knowing she just took the perfect picture.

He is always there. Always. He is determined to not miss anything as she begins the last of all of her high school activities: the last softball game, the last One-Act performance, the last track meet and the last time she walks down the senior hall. As our daughter walks across the stage to receive her diploma, I am sure there will be a hug and a tear shed between dad and daughter. I am sure at that moment I will have a few tears. However, those tears will be of joy and admiration, as I have had a front row seat watching the bond of a father and daughter grow, just because her father showed up.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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