Domestic violence is terrible, and divorce can be a nightmare. When children are involved, it makes everything so much worse. It is crucial to have an honest conversation with your children when you and your partner are divorcing over issues of domestic violence. Failing to address the problem can result in very poor consequences. If you believe your child is unaware of the abuse, you are most likely mistaken.
Your Kids Know More Than You Think
If you are getting a divorce because your partner has been abusive, your child is most likely aware of the problem. Kids are far more perceptive than most adults give them credit for. While many victims of domestic violence know that their kids are aware of the problem, there are plenty of others who believe that they have no idea. Addressing the issue of domestic violence with your children can be very difficult, but it is also essential.
Your children may be aware of the abuse, but they likely only have part of the picture. It is critical that you have an open and honest discussion with your children. The issue needs to be addressed, and they need to be able to get all of their questions answered. In many cases, left to their own imaginations, children will fill in the blanks with even worse ideas than reality.
When you begin the discussion, you should ask your child what they have seen or heard to discover the extent of their knowledge of the violence. Doing so can help you to figure out what they need to hear about while avoiding going too in-depth into things of which they are already well aware.
It is also vital to discuss the abuse during a divorce because even if your children don't know, they are likely to find out during divorce proceedings. Your child will be especially exposed if you are fighting your spouse for custody. The effects of domestic violence on child custody can be profound.
It is much better for your children to hear about the violence from you, in an open conversation, than from a lawyer in a courtroom. Experiencing that type of shocking revelation in a public environment can only harm your child. They need a personal one-on-one conversation where you can put everything into context, and they can feel safe.
Know Your Audience
When you are talking to your children about domestic violence, it is important to discuss the topic in a way that is appropriate for your child's age group. You want to use words that they can understand and be careful to ensure that they are not taking on a burden that they are not ready for at their age.
While hearing that a parent has been violent towards another parent is too much at any age, kids are resilient. They can handle many difficult things, but they do have a breaking point.
You want your child to be aware of the issue without making them feel like it is something that they need to be concerned about themselves.
Be Sure Your Child Knows They Can Always Ask Questions
It is vital that your child knows that the lines of communication run both ways. They should feel comfortable asking you any questions they may have. There is a good chance that many of the things they want to know do not match with the questions that you would expect from them.
If your child has a question that you are not ready to answer or don't know how to answer, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them that you need to think about the question. You can tell them that you will get back to them with an answer in another discussion soon.
When talking to your kids about violence, try to find a time where you feel that you can be largely in control of your emotions. Avoiding getting too worked up can help your children to feel like you have things under control and can help to put them at ease.
Make Sure Your Child Knows That They Are Safe
You need to make sure your child feels safe and like you are going to be safe now as well. Having fear for their own safety can be a devastating way for a child to live. Fearing for the security of their parents can put an undue burden upon them. It can make them feel like they need to protect you when the job is really the other way around.
Be Mindful of When Your Child Needs to Stop
While it is important to talk to your children about domestic violence, you do not want to do so for too long. The topic is an uncomfortable one. Though your child may have many questions at the beginning of the conversation, it is likely that they will reach a point where they have heard enough. When they stop asking questions and start portraying clear signs of restlessness, it is best to end the conversation.
You want your child to be informed but not traumatized. If you feel there is more that needs to be said, you can always redress the issue at a later date. For now, though, it is best to switch gears and get your child thinking about other things.
Have Your Own Support System
Getting past domestic violence and moving on with your life after divorce can be very challenging. While you and your children will support each other through this time, it is critical that you carry the bulk of the burden. You want your kids to hold onto their childhood. In order to get through things without overburdening your children, you need to have your own support system of other adults.
Friends, family, fellow abuse victims, and counselors can all help make up a positive support system that can help you move forward. They can also help give you the strength you need to be there for your children through this difficult time.
Disclaimer: This article is a paid article.