For most parents going through a divorce, breaking the news to your children is probably one of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process. Although the thought of divorce has been on your mind for a while, it is often a surprise to your kids.
It is natural to protect your children from being hurt or worrying about your divorce; however, talking with your kids about what is happening in their family is the best thing you to help them successfully deal with the separation of the family unit.
Keep in mind, consider the fact that talking to your kids about the divorce will be an ongoing series of discussions, as opposed to one “big talk.” Your children are going to have questions for you throughout the divorce process and well after they’re done, so be prepared to answer them as carefully and honestly as possible.
The following are several tips to help you talk to your kids about divorce:
- Figure out what you and your spouse are going to say – Make sure you and the other parent get your story straight to avoid contradicting one another or arguing while you are breaking the news to your children. If you need help deciding what to say to your kids, speak with a professional such as a psychologist, therapist, or religious advisor.
- Tell your children together – If at all possible, talk with your kids as a unit. As difficult as this may sound, it is quite essential. They must hear from both of you at the same time to avoid hearing different explanations or feel that they are expected to take sides.
- Discuss the basics – Whether your child is four years old or 18, keep your communication factual and simple. Your kids do not need to know all of the details that led up to his point. Remember, less can sometimes be more.
- Don’t blame each other – No matter what led to the divorce and how angry you might be, avoid playing the blame game in front of your kids. Whether the marriage is ending due to an extramarital affair or financial issues, keep those details to yourself.
- Explain that some things are not going to change—and never will – Divorce is going to bring about many changes, from new living situations to different parenting arrangements. However, you should emphasize that the one thing that will never change is the love you and the other parent have for your children. Even though you and your spouse won’t be united in marriage, the family unit will remain the same.