Telling your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce can be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have. Even if doesn’t come as a huge surprise no child likes to hear that their parents are splitting up.
While the manner in which you speak to your children about divorce can vary depending on their age, you will want to be prepared no matter what. Here are a few key tips for talking to your kids about divorce
Present a united front
If possible talk to your children about your divorce together. It is best for them to believe it was a mutual decision (even if it isn’t). If you have multiple children sit them down together in a quiet and private space where they feel comfortable expressing their feelings. It is best that they are all told at the same time.
That being said, if you feel as though your older child may have a reaction that will upset the younger one, you may want to have this conversation separately.
Framing the divorce as a mutual decision will help your kids feel safer and more supported. It is important that they know that you will still be able to work together as parents even if you will no longer be husband and wife.
Deliver a clear message
This conversation isn’t something that you want to wing. Making sure you are clear on the message you want to deliver to your children is key in making sure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
Make sure they know it is not their fault and that you will continue to be there for them even if you aren’t married anymore. Tell them that you and their mother/father have tried to work things out but that you feel this is the best option for the whole family.
Be ready for their reaction
There is no way to know exactly what your child’s reaction will be to the news of your divorce. Some will yell and lock themselves in their room, while others will have a lot of questions. It is important to allow your children the time and space to feel what they need to feel in order to process the news. . As kids tend to be very ego-centric questions they have will likely be focused on how your divorce will affect their life.
- Where will they live?
- Who will drive them to school?
- Can their friends still come over to play?
- What will happen at Christmas time?
These are all examples of questions that may come up and it will be helpful if you have the answers mapped out beforehand so that your kids can have a clear picture of what their life will look like moving forward.
Research has shown that 75% of parents talk to their kids about their divorce for less than ten minutes total. Talking about divorce is not a one time conversation. Once you have laid the news out on the table be open to discussing their feelings and answering questions as they come up. It is a difficult thing for a child to wrap their head around and it is important that they have someone they can talk to.
As mentioned, the way you talk to your children can vary depending on their age. For more information about how age changes things check out this article in Today’s Parent which outlines how to direct the conversation by age group.