Are you getting a divorce, but are unsure how to tell your kids?
Possibly one of the hardest conversations you might have when it comes to sharing the news about your divorce will be with your kids. However, this is one of the most critical conversations and one that needs thought and planning.
Here are ten of our most useful tips to help smooth the path of this sensitive topic.
10 Tips on How to Tell Your Kids That You Are Getting a Divorce
- Create a plan and schedule a time to talk to them on a day where there is enough time for questions and feelings to be expressed. Don’t do it on a special occasion like Christmas or a birthday, or one that might be tainted in the future as the day “mom and dad told us the news.”
- If at all possible, present a united front. It’s far better to share the news of your split with both you and your “soon-to-be-ex” present. This allows for consistency of information and gives children the opportunity to ask questions of both of you. It also reassures children that just because you are divorcing, doesn’t mean you can’t get along.
- If you have more than one child, tell them all together. Even if they are different ages, it’s important that all children are told together so they have the benefit of supporting each other. This way, questions can be addressed right away and with all present.
- There’s no need to go into that much detail, even if they ask. Keep it simple and age appropriate. They don’t need to know if there was an affair, if you’re experiencing financial difficulties, etc. Use expressions like,”We know things will be better if we’re not together,” or, “We just don’t feel the same way about each other any longer.”
- Unless you plan on nesting, explain which parent will be staying in the house and which parent will be moving. This information is directly relevant to their daily lives and lets them know how their living situation will differ from the present. It also reassures them immediately that even though both parents won’t be living under the same roof, they are still able to have a relationship with both parents.
- Let them know what will be changing and what will be staying the same. Talk about any upcoming changes that might be expected and tell them you will do your best to keep them included when making schedule changes, whenever possible. Children crave structure, and when decisions are made that are not within their control, they can feel powerless and scared.
- Avoid accusing one another of any wrongdoing. Remain civil during this conversation. This is not the time to bicker or blame one another for what’s happening. This conversation is solely to provide information to your kids in the healthiest way possible.
- Remind them that you love them and emphasize that none of this is their fault. This is critical, especially with younger children, in order to prevent unwanted anxiety and possible childhood trauma.
- Be prepared for a variety of feelings to be expressed. Children are unpredictable and often surprise us with either displaying no emotion at all, or by having a complete breakdown. Make sure you validate any feelings they choose to express.
- Keep an open dialogue outside of this meeting so your children are free to process everything you’ve told them and so that they feel comfortable asking any questions at a later date. This type of news will likely need some time to sink in so don’t expect every question to be asked and answered in one sitting.
Telling your kids that you’re getting a divorce isn’t easy, but the above tips can help navigate you through the process.