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Question of the week: How do I help parents tell a 6, 7, or 8 year old children they are divorcing?

 
 

16925867 - father giving some advices to his son - the big talk concept

 

If you are a children’s minister, parents in your church have probably asked you this question. Or you may have been stunned when children tell a class or group that their parents are getting a divorce. Although none of us want children to face their parents’ divorce, it is a reality happening in our world today. It is best if you know how to help the parents.

In this post, I will provide you with information you can share with divorcing parents who ask you for advice.

Judith Wallerstein, in her book What About the Children?, says it is best to plan on having two family meetings with both parents together with their children. Obviously, we are assuming that both parents are willing to participate:

The first meeting is when the parents tell the children about the divorce. The second meeting is a chance to explain things and let the children ask questions. Depending on the questions, a third family meeting might be necessary. Keep the family meetings brief so as to not overwhelm the children. It is best to let school-age children know a few weeks in advance of one parent moving out of the family home.

For children of all ages, it is best to be as truthful as their developmental age allows. For six-, seven-, or eight-year-old children, this is the age when school and friends are becoming important to them. However, they still depend on their family—meaning mom, dad, and siblings—being there for them.

Research shows that it is best if both parents can sit down with the children and tell them together. The parents need to plan what they are going to say.

Advice for parents

  • Tell the children that when you got married you loved each other very much.
  • Explain to the children that when they were born you were very happy because you had wanted a family.
  • Be honest about what has been happening and that mom and dad will not live together in the same house any longer.
  • Tell them you will still be a family, just a different kind of family.
  • Tell the children that you will still protect and love them.
  • Let them know that both parents will still help them with schoolwork.
  • Explain who will take the children to after-school activities, such as sports and gymnastics.
  • Let the children know where they will live, especially if the family will move out of the primary residence where they have been living.
  • Tell the children when and how often they will see the other parent.

It is best not to present too much information at one time. Remember that children of this age are trying to fit into two worlds—home and school. They may feel that the divorce will cause a lot of confusion in their world. There are many ways that divorce affects children this age. Share the article “Effects of Divorce on the 6, 7, and 8-Year-old Child” with the parents.

In a perfect world, you would not have to give advice like this. Remember, we are sharing this information with you so that the children involved will be treated as well as possible when presented with this awful news.

 

DC4K blogs posts are great to use for training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.

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