Even if it’s the best choice for your spouse and you, it’s never an easy decision to get a divorce. A divorce after having children is a game-changer regardless if you or your partner want to stay in touch once the paperwork is finalized. Even if you plan on the split being civilized, it’s going to take a toll on the children when they don’t get to go home to both mommy and daddy after school. It’s important that before they blame themselves or act out, you sit them down and explain to them exactly what is happening. You need to have a certain level of honesty when you’re talking about divorce with your kids. They’re going to sense it if you’re lying to them so it’s best to be honest and let them in on everything that would affect them. Here are 5 tips on breaking the news of a divorce to your children.
Make sure you break the news together
This isn’t just because whoever breaks the news is going to seem like the bad guy, but because your children need to see that you two are still a duo as their parents even if you’re not going to be together anymore. Blaming each other or telling stories that are biased or one-sided doesn’t help anybody in this situation. Incorporating the word “we” during your conversations is important so that neither parent does not present it to the children as though one parent is leaving the family.
Know what you want to say
Talk about what you’re going to say to your children before you sit down in front of them. Improvising a conversation that will probably stay with your child for a long-time is beneficial for them. Make sure you tell your children that you both love them and that the split is a decision that they made as adults and has nothing to do with them. Kids often blame themselves, so while you don’t need to give true reasoning behind the divorce, make sure that they understand it was the result of your own problems and not theirs.
Warn their teachers
Depending on how you expect your children to react to the news, you might want to tell other adults that are close with them. Teachers, coaches, babysitters, or other figures of authority are going to be the ones they turn to for help during this time. It can be confusing to children, especially at a young age. They may also begin to act out. If this happens, it’s important that the adults around them understand what they’re going through and help them rather than punish them.
Let them ask questions
Again, they’re going to be confused so you and your soon-to-be-ex need to arm yourself with answers to their barrage of questions. The first thing they’re going to ask is “why”. You might want to tell them that you just don’t see eye-to-eye anymore and, that although both of you will always be their mommy and daddy, you don’t want to be husband and wife anymore. Be prepared to answer questions like, where are we going to live, am I going to have a new mommy/daddy, do I get to see you both everyday? Etc.
Going through a divorce isn’t only a difficult time for the kids, but it can also be an emotional roller coaster for you and your partner. Talking about it to others might cause you distress, so you can expect that telling your kids about it might also upset you. It’s very important that you wait until the decision is final and you’re mentally/emotionally stable to inform your kids. When breaking the news, you need to be strong for them. If they see their parents are torn apart by what’s coming, they’re not going to know how to handle it. Seeing your parents upset is one of the worst feelings, and for a young child that can be extremely overwhelming.
Going through a divorce affects many more people than just you and your partner. Unfortunately for your children, they will endure the brunt of the emotional distress so do everything in your power to minimize it.