Children and divorce in Oregon: How to break the news

Though parents cannot completely eliminate the upset that telling their children they are divorcing may cause, taking certain steps may ease the blow.

The Oregon Health Authority reports there were 13,718 divorces across the state in 2016 alone. Making the decision to split can be upsetting enough for couples, but having to break the news to their children may be even more challenging. There is no guaranteed method for parents to eliminate the sting that telling their kids about a divorce is likely to cause. Though, by taking certain steps, they may make the conversation as stress-free as possible, which may help ease some of the shock and aid their kids in adjusting.

Plan what to say

Having to break the news to their children that they are getting divorced may be one of the most difficult conversations parents ever have. Thus, experts suggest couples consider what they will say before hand, rather than improvising. Coming up with the key messages they want to get through ahead of time may help parents clearly explain what is going on to their kids and make the talk less upsetting.

Talk as a family

Some parents when breaking the news to their kids feel it best to address them individually or in groups. While this may be best when they are concerned an older child's reaction may upset a younger sibling's, it is generally suggested that people have this conversation with the entire family. This may help reassure children that their families are changing, but will remain in tact.

Offer reassurances

It is common for children of divorcing parents to think they have somehow played a role in their decision to split, or otherwise feel they are to blame. As such, when talking to them about what is happening, it is suggested that people reinforce that the decision was an adult one that was based on adult issues. This message should be repeated throughout the conversation to help reassure children that the problem is not theirs to fix and that their parents will still be there for them, despite no longer living together.

People may also do their best to answer their kids' asked, as well as unasked, questions such as whether they will have to change schools and how the child custody and visitation arrangements will work. Having details and addressing their concerns may help the news better sit with kids and alleviate some of their anxieties.

Allow them their reactions

When preparing to break the news to their children, many parents also ready themselves for crying, angry outbursts or other upsetting reactions. Kids' first reactions may not always be what people are expecting, however. Some may have the anticipated responses, while others may feel a sense of relief or be concerned with how this will immediately affect them and their lives. Parents are advised to expect mixed reactions and emotions, and to read their children to determine what they need to help them cope.

Seeking legal assistance

Going through a divorce can be difficult enough for families in Oregon and elsewhere. This trying life experience may be made all the more challenging when the matter is drawn out. Therefore, those who are considering a divorce may benefit from obtaining legal counsel. An attorney may guide them through the process, looking out for their best interests and helping them to achieve efficient resolutions so they and their children can begin the process of moving forward.