The phrase, “What happens in… stays in…” has become well known. It’s used in many situations to express the idea some things should be private.
The phrase applies really well for divorcing parents and their children. Conversations about some subjects should stay with parents and not be shared with the children.
Children need information about the changes in their lives and what will happen in the future. In divorce, the familiar is gone, replaced by uncertainty and anxiety. Children, just like their parents, need to get their bearings. They need information about things that directly affect their lives.
They need to know:
Is this for real? Are you seriously getting divorced?
When will this happen?
Where will I be living?
Can we stay in our home?
Where will the other parent be living?
Is there a schedule for being with the other parent?
Can I go to the same school?
Can I still take music lessons? Can I still be on the soccer team?
Are you going to make me see a counselor?
If we move, how will I see my friends?
Do Grandma and Grandpa know about this?
Can we still visit our cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives?
Honest answers help them adapt to the changes in their lives. They need to know you are looking out for them. They will be better able to adjust to the changes if they know what to expect.
However, there are some things children do NOT need to know, such as:
Why are you divorcing?
Whose fault is the divorce?
Did one of you have an affair?
Is this because you drink too much?
How much is child support and alimony?
Are you seeing a counselor?
What did your attorney tell you?
Do you plan to remarry?
Are you going to be OK?
Talking with your children about these things doesn’t help them. It does the opposite. It leaves them anxious. They can end up feeling responsible, as though they should be doing something. Your children have no responsibility for making or changing your choices.
But we all know, they have no influence or control over these decisions. They can’t change your mind or affect your choices. They may be too young or too scared to understand what is happening. They are children, not adults.
As parents live by this rule: “what happens between adults, stays between adults.”
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