Marriage Problems: What Do We Tell the Kids?
So you and your spouse are having marriage issues. Disagreements and conflict in marriage are very common, if not inevitable parts of married life. However, if you have children, your and your spouse’s disagreements and conflict can have serious lasting effects on them. Being considerate of your children and their needs in a time of marriage crisis can help avoid any situational escalation, and it might help save your marriage.
But what do you tell the kids? Before you start thinking that your children don’t know anything about your problems or potential marriage separation, realize that this is probably incorrect. We can all remember how as children we rifled through our parents’ drawers when they weren’t home or listened at the door.
Give your kids credit! They are smart and perceptive people. While you are working on saving a marriage, be honest. Let your kids know that mom and dad might be disagreeing about some things at the moment, but it is not their fault. Be clear that you are working together to make sure you seek the relationship help you need. And be sure to seek that help! This might quell some of the fears that children develop with their active imaginations because the truth is always less scary than what “might” happen.
How much do you tell them? As much as you feel their developmental stages allow. For example, a five-year-old needs far less information than a teenager. This also depends on your individual children and family needs at the time. Be careful to give enough, but not too much, information about your marriage problems.
Of course, every couple is different, and so are their children. Seeking marriage help is a great step, along with being honest every step of the way. Your kids will appreciate the information you choose to share, and you might find that you do as well.