In a divorce, one of the toughest conversations you will experience in your life is telling your kids about it. For children, the breakup of the family unit can be devastating. Through their perspective, it appears to be the end of their world.
That is why it is imperative to be careful when breaking the news. Parents must determine the most appropriate way to break the news based on their children’s maturity.
The following are several effective tips to help you discuss your pending divorce with your kids:
- Talk to the children together – Speaking to your kids as a united front makes it appear that both parents are prepared to cooperate and work together. Make sure both of you won’t allow tempers to flare or become angry with one another.
- Address the entire family – It is wise to have this conversation with the entire family present and then to follow up with each child separately. However, if you’re concerned that your older child is going to react angrily to the news or upset the younger child, you and your spouse may want to speak to each child individually.
- Keep messaging clear and simple – For kids of all ages, the message should be quite simple and clear. Avoid discussing the complicated details or offer hope that the marriage can be fixed. Tell your kids that mommy and daddy will be both happier, both parents will continue to be an important part of their lives, and there will be two homes where they will be loved.
- Encourage them to discuss the divorce with you – While it may take time for your children to process how they feel, you should expect them to have many more conversations with you throughout the process. The first discussion is essentially a “door opener” to ongoing dialogue and questions between you and your kids. Both you and your spouse should be open to answering questions and responding to your children’s emotional needs. Furthermore, e ready for any reactions. The kids who ask a lot of questions need to be answered and reassured over and over again.
- Make sure your kids know it’s not their fault – You must tell your children that they are not the reason the marriage is over. Additionally, kids must know that the problem is between their parents and that it’s not theirs to fix.
- Let your children know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – Let them know that everything will be okay, you will be okay, and you will all help each other adapt and adjust to the changes coming.