Of all the challenges that accompany divorce, telling your children can be one of the most difficult. Their understanding often depends on how old they are; younger children are not able to comprehend the implications of divorce as much as older children. In addition to breaking the news to them in the right manner, you must be understanding of their response, no matter what it is. Every child is different; therefore, every child will react differently to the news of their parents splitting up.
So, is there a “best way” to tell your kids that you are getting a divorce? Although there is no one answer, there are different strategies you can use, as well as appropriate responses to have. Here are some tips for telling your kids about a divorce or separation.
Your situation might not allow you to share the news with your spouse, but if it is relatively amicable, try to break the news to your kids together. It could be confusing for kids to hear such big news from one parent and not the other, or hear one story from a parent and a different story from the other. Meet beforehand (if possible) and get on the same page about what you are going to tell your kids.
Ambiguity helps no one, and kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for. When you tell your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce, do your best to explain the timeline of events, where they will be living, and what divorce means. Be detailed, but do not share unnecessary information with them. For example, your kids don’t need to know if someone was unfaithful. Don’t tell them something you are unsure of; if you are not sure if one spouse is moving out, don’t bring it up. They don’t need to add “confused,” to their stockpile of emotions!
The worst possible way your kids could hear about your divorce is from someone other than you or your spouse. If possible, tell them as a group to avoid one sibling telling the other.
The first step of the divorce process is making the decision to get a divorce. Don’t start it off with hostility by speaking negatively about your ex-spouse or placing blame on the other party. Even if one spouse is “more to blame,” than the other, sharing negative details or speaking about them unkindly can plant seeds of bias in your children’s minds. Don’t be “that” parent.
Kids are simultaneously tough as nails and fragile all at the same time. When you tell them about the divorce, convey to them that this is in no way their fault. Tell them that they are loved and will always be loved even if you and their other parent are not together. This is perhaps the most important step of telling your kids that you are getting a divorce.
If your kids are old enough, offer them the opportunity to talk to a counselor or therapist, but do not force them to see someone. They might express feelings to a third party that they don’t feel comfortable saying to you. Speaking with a counselor or therapist can help them work through the emotions they are experiencing.
Making the decision to get divorced is a big step. The attorneys at Brown & Dutton Law Firm want to help ease the transition and make sure you know what all of your rights are, as well as protect your family and their futures.
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