Talking to Your Kids About Your Spouse's Convictionby Attorney Carlos Gamino on 04/17/14
When you have children, you’re always concerned about how they feel, what they think and what kinds of consequences your actions will have on them. If your spouse has been convicted of a crime, it’s important to connect with your children so they understand what’s happening. Attorney Carlos A. Gamiño has a few pointers for parents who have to explain a conviction to their kids.
When your spouse has been convicted of a crime, talking to your kids needs to be a priority. Psychologists suggest that no matter how old they are, it’s important to provide truthful, clear answers in order to make sure they understand what’s happening.
Let your kids know they’re free to ask questions; if it’s possible, try not to be “too busy” to answer them. Young children may just want to know where their other parent is, while older children often want to know why they’re gone. With age-appropriate language, explain as best you can without making your spouse look bad.
“Dad did something wrong, so now he’s making it right” is a great answer for young children who will be satisfied with that answer. You can also try “Mom broke the law, and the penalty is that she has to spend some time in jail to make up for it. She’ll be back soon, though.”
Naturally, your answers will vary based on your kids’ ages and their maturity levels. If you need a little help, there are several Milwaukee and Waukesha counselors and therapists who are extremely qualified to help you talk to your children about the situation. (Ask your spouse’s attorney for a referral if you’re not sure where to start looking.)
I wish you, and your children, the best.