Divorce is never easy in any family but in a special needs family it can be even harder. Divorce among special needs families is from what I have researched above average in fact the divorce rate by some is estimated to be above 80%. One of the hardest things about Divorce is having to break the news to the children that in itself is difficult but when you have a child with special needs its a little more challenging as you have to figure out a way to tell them so that they too can fully grasp and understand why it is happening but more importantly that it has nothing to do with them that it’s not their fault.
Here are a few tips I hope will be helpful when sitting down to talk with your special needs child in explaining why things in the home are going to be changing:
- Tell the Children together if they see both parents sitting with them explaining and talking to them it will help reassure that even though things are changing in their environment the way Mommy and Daddy feel about them will never ever change
- Speak honestly and openly with the Children, you don’t need to give long drawn out explanations but it is best to be candid and honest about the changing circumstances but you must also take into consideration the child’s mental capabilities pictures would be a good way to explain for those children who are non-verbal or developmentally more delayed than others. The idea here is to not tell them more than what is absolutely necessary for them to know.
- Stick to their normal daily activities and routines as that is the one thing they are used to now granted their may be sometimes when that is not possible so you do your best as parents to work it out. You can always create new routines and or activities to take place of the old ones when one parent has the child for visitations
- Remain calm as if the child sees that your calm then they will be comforted by that and feel ok
- Refrain from pointing fingers at each other children do not need to see Mommy and Daddy go back and forth in an argumentative state that will only confuse them more and possibly make them feel it has something to do with them.
- Let them ask questions, listen to them, but most importantly allow them the freedom to react as like adults children react in different ways and that goes for special needs children as well. They may not react in the so called “normal” ways one would expect and that is ok, they may not react immediately and again that is ok just be positive in your responses and if you are not sure of something or unclear let them know that this will teach them and show them that you are there for them but also that will help to know and understand that when they do have questions later on they can still come to you at anytime.
- Always reassure the children that the divorce is between Mommy and Daddy only that you are not divorcing them.
In doing my research on a few good books I came across the following these may help you in discussing divorce with a special needs child or quite frankly any child. Divorce again not an easy subject to approach especially when Children are involved but if you take your feelings and needs out of the equation and think of what’s best for the child it may just turn out to be much better and less painful than what you thought.