Telling your Children about Divorce
By Mary Ann Pekara
One of the trickiest parts of going through a divorce is breaking the news to your kids. No matter how you do it, there will be some emotional turmoil, but there are steps you can take to minimize the negative impact your divorce has on your children and make the situation a child-friendly divorce.
Before you Tell your Children about Divorce
Before you tell your children that you and your spouse have decided to divorce, experts with NBC news suggest working out a plan of action with your spouse. You can decide when, where and how to tell the children together, which means that neither spouse can stir resentment by breaking the news too soon.
Once you've planned the discussion, it's time to tell your children. This won't be easy, but here are some tips to help you help your kids accept this difficult situation.
Tips for Talking Divorce with Children
- Do it together: Unless it's likely that you and your spouse will erupt into fighting when telling your kids about divorce, presenting the news as a team has several advantages. It sends the message that you've made the decision calmly and divorce is the best thing for the whole family. Some experts believe that it also sends a positive message about the future.
- Know the basics: Children are less likely to be overwhelmed by the news if you can tell them how every day life will be affected. This means that you'll have to have an idea about the new living situation, custody arrangements and the difference in your child's school routine before you have the conversation.
- Use the right lingo: Younger kids may not understand divorce, custody, or separation. Explain the divorce in terms your children can understand. For example, you and your spouse are going to live in different houses so you can stop fighting and take better care of your children.
- Be honest: Don't give your kids false hope, even if it may seem easier at the time. Lying about the significance of divorce or any new arrangements will likely come back to haunt you.
- But not too honest: Sharing all the details and reasons for your divorce will only hurt your children. Resist the urge to tattle because such information will only hurt your kids.
- Focus on what won't change: Reassure your children by telling them what will stay the same. Emphasizing constants can help kids navigate the divorce process.
- Watch & listen: Your kids could have any number of reactions. Listen to questions and concerns, watch for signs of emotional trauma and let them know that you want to help them. Remember to listen for the real questions you're kids are asking. Children may be too embarrassed to ask if you'll still love them the same or if the divorce was their fault, so it may be up to you to assure them about such matters.
- Avoid parental alienation: Sharing negative details about your ex-spouse with your children is never a good idea. Resist the temptation to justify yourself or get the kids on your side by revealing unpleasant facts about your ex.
Talk to a Divorce Lawyer about Divorce and Children
If you've been seeing a marriage counselor, consider asking him or her about breaking the news of divorce to your children. A divorce lawyer can also talk to you about divorce with children. Total Divorce can help you connect with a local divorce lawyer to get advice and further discuss the divorce process. Find out how to have a child friendly divorce by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form. Get started today and learn about protecting your children during the divorce process.