Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of a divorce is telling the kids and wondering how they will react. There really is no perfect way to tell your kids you are getting a divorce but there are ways to make the conversation easier for everyone involved. If you are getting a divorce and need to tell your kids, here are a few pointers to guide the process.
Tell Them Together
If you can, the best way to tell your kids is together. This way they can see it is a mutual decision and you know exactly what your ex-partner has said about you. As many divorces can end bitterly, the last thing you want is your kids to be told two different stories about your divorce. Try not to blame anyone. Whilst a divorce is often not a mutual decision, you need to come to terms with your own feelings and think about how your children will see it if their parents are constantly bickering. When children are involved, divorce is bigger than either of you.
Be Open and Honest
You need to be honest with your children when letting them know you are getting a divorce. Never make unrealistic promises about getting back together. Children need honesty and this will be one of the most difficult conversations in their childhood, meaning they are bound to hang on to every word you say. Whilst being honest is important, you don’t need to let them in on every little detail. Children love their parents unconditionally and don’t yet understand what it means to hurt a partner. Letting them know the reason for your divorce is because your partner cheated on you won’t help anyone, instead, stick to the basics.
Let Them Express Emotion
Every child reacts differently to divorce, and you must let your child grieve in their own way. They may be mad at you for some time, but they will come around once they realize that isn’t going to help the situation. Be patient and compassionate no matter what they throw at you, understand they are hurting too. Talk about how this is nothing to do with them or their behaviors, as many children blame themselves. Explain how you still love them just as much and will always be there for them.
Make Future Arrangements
When kids get such devastating news and don’t know what is happening next, this will only fill them with uncertainty and doubt. The best thing you can do now is to make future arrangements, so they know when they get to see both their parents again. The sooner you set up a routine, the more normal it can feel for all of you. According to Fernandez & Karney, divorce can be a traumatizing experience, especially if custody battles are involved. If you can plan early and come to a consensus, this will make the divorce easier for the whole family.
Following the above guidance can make this hard chat a little easier on the family. The sooner you let your kids know, the sooner you can all begin to get on with your lives.