Divorce is never easy. It can often be complicated, messy and contentious. And, if you have children at home, you will experience a whole different level of complexity than couples who do not have kids or whose children have already left the nest.
The first challenge you may face is how to tell your kids about the divorce. This might be more challenging than it was to make the decision to end your marriage. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare for the conversation.
Like with many other aspect of divorce, it is important to take the time to plan how to tell your children. Here are a few tips on how to talk to your kids about divorce to help you prepare.
If you and your spouse have decided that divorce will be the best thing for the family, do not wait around to tell the kids. In fact, they are probably already fully aware that there is something wrong in the home. Not telling them about the decision can cause them to experience stress and anxiety. Plan a time with your spouse when the two of you can sit down with the kids and explain to them to what is going on and what kinds of changes to expect. Be sure to schedule enough time to have a lengthy talk and to answer their questions.
Focus the discussion
When you sit down to tell your children about the divorce, be sure to make them and their feelings the focus of the conversation. Leave your feelings and worries out of the conversation. You can speak to your friends, family or therapist about how the divorce is impacting your life. You need to be the sounding board for your kids. Be sure to put their needs first and stay fully engaged with them during the conversation and any other time that they need to talk about the divorce. Also, validate their feelings instead of trying to save them from the hurt, disappointment or worry they may be experiencing.
What to say
You have picked a time and place for the conversation and worked on putting aside your own emotions to focus on the kids. Now, what exactly do you say when tell your kids about the divorce? Unfortunately, there is no definitive road map for this as children can have very different reactions to this kind of news. However, there should be a few matters you should be ready to cover. For instance, make it clear that the divorce is not your children’s responsibility. Explain that both you and your spouse still love them but that the two of you will be living apart. Also, be ready to discuss the reasons for the divorce in an age-appropriate manner.
If you are planning to divorce and have children, the above tips can help you prepare to tell them about the upcoming changes. By taking a calm and prepared approach, you can limit the stress and trauma that the divorce could cause.