My husband and I are talking about getting a divorce. It will be amicable. We have two children — a boy, who is 11, and a girl, age 8. We want to make this as easy as possible for them and would appreciate any thoughts you may have on what to do.
Divorce is a trauma for children, but it is made less so with some care on the part of the parents. You sound as if both of you wish to make it as free from trauma as possible.
Start by sitting down together with your children. This, of course, will be when the places of residence and plans are made. Tell them of your decision. It is of great value to do this together. Anticipate their concerns and how you will address them. Of greatest importance are issues having to do with co-parenting.
They will be very concerned about seeing both parents and who will be with them. Plan on emotion. They will be looking to each of you for reassurance and expressions of love. Answer their questions, but think before you do. Do it in language they understand. Plan on some “what if” questions.
Then, the issues become long term. Rule No. 1 is to keep your personal divorce problems between you and your erstwhile husband. Each of you should remember your roles as mother and father.
There may be disagreements over rules and discipline. Talk them out. Trust one another. Parenting styles do differ.
As the years pass, there will be changes in how the children feel about being with one parent or another. Be aware.
If the going gets rough, seek some professional help.
Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lrryllrsn@CS.com.