It’s never easy discussing divorce with your children, but children usually appreciate honesty from their parents. We’ve listed a few suggestions to help you handle the difficult task of breaking the news to your children.
- Tell them together. If possible, show the children you and your spouse are still united in making sure they are cared for. Start by breaking the news to them together. You should discuss how you plan to handle the discussion prior to telling your children. Both of you should be involved in the discussion, don’t leave one parent to bear the news alone.
- Refrain from being overly emotional. Divorce is an emotionally draining process. It can be even more difficult if one party is still hoping for reconciliation. Take the time to emotionally and mentally prepare to tell your children. Some emotion is to be expected, but too much anger or sadness may cause additional stress for your children.
- Avoid the good cop, bad cop routine. Sometimes one party is more responsible for the demise of a marriage. This isn’t something children need to know. Do your best to remain united and not make the divorce all one parent’s “fault”. Avoid any facts that may put a strain on the children’s interactions with either of you.
- Explain the process. Children tend to handle situations better if they know what to expect. We encourage you to explain relevant parts of the process to your children. Examples include: when and where the parties will reside, when and with whom visitation will take place. Give them the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns. Validate their feelings and try to answer any questions they have.
- Offer your support. Tell your children that you understand divorce can be difficult. Try to put yourself in their position and be attentive to their needs. It may take time for them to adjust to the transition of their parents no longer being together. Let them know you are there to support them and are available if they ever need to talk.
All children are unique and will handle news of divorce differently. The circumstances you face are unique. You and your spouse are know your children better than anyone, and you should act only in a manner that is in the child’s best interest. If your child has mental health issues, or if you have any reason to believe that your child would hurt his/herself or others, please consult a professional health care advisor prior to discussing divorce with them.
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