Deciding to divorce is difficult enough, but telling your kids can feel even harder.
This is never an easy thing to do, although you can help prepare your children for this conversation. By knowing the right things to say, you can make your divorce known with as little pain and drama as possible.
Here’s how you can prep your kids for a divorce.
When to Tell Them
When you tell your kids about your divorce is important. Ideally, kids should know at least two weeks before the divorce is happening. You should tell all your children together with your spouse, at the same time if possible.
Don’t tell your children about the divorce before an event or outing, such as right before they have to go to school. It’s a good idea to tell them when nothing is planned afterwards and they have time and space to process the divorce. Many parents find that over the weekend is the best time to do this.
What You Should Say
While telling your kids about the divorce, it’s important to say that this is a decision you and your spouse made together. Let your children know that nothing they said or did contributed to the divorce; you’ll likely need to keep reiterating this message for it to stick.
Reassure your children that you’ll still be family, you’ll still love each other, and most importantly, both parents will continue to be a part of their lives. Letting them know that you are still Mom and Dad and that you’ll still care for them is crucial. If one parent is moving away, talk about how often they’ll see that parent, or if you don’t know yet, update them later.
Stick to the Plan
When you talk with your kids about divorce, discuss the plan for what will happen. Discuss who will leave, who will stay, when your children will see the other parent. Above all, be reassuring that events will continue to happen as a family, but be sure not to promise anything you can’t deliver on. Talk about what will be the same and what will be different, updating them as plans change or as information becomes available.
When telling your kids about the divorce, be prepared for anything. Some kids have strong reactions while others appear to have no reaction at all. Answer any questions they ask, be reassuring, and feel free to ask questions yourself, but be careful not to pressure them. It’s important to keep an open line of communication.
It’s ok to be emotional and acknowledge the sadness of the separation. If one parent gets upset during the conversation, use this as an opportunity to support your spouse. Take a break if you need to. Be forgiving if your spouse isn’t handling it well. Through doing this, you can help your children feel as though things are ok even when they are changing.
Divorce is one of the most challenging times a family can face. Present a unified front when talking to your children and tell them about your decision while still being reassuring and understanding. You can ensure your children handle the news as best as possible under the circumstances!