Talking about your divorce with just about anyone is probably going to be a difficult prospect, but one of the most challenging moments you will face during your divorce is breaking the news to your children.
This is an incredibly important moment that will likely stick with your children for years to come, so it is essential that you prepare yourself accordingly. The manner in which you approach this discussion will help to set the tone for how your children adjust to the upheaval that is about to occur in their lives. Be sure to consider the following seven tips:
1) Do it together
Oftentimes when you’ve reached a final decision to get divorced, some couples may find it difficult to even be in the same room together, much less cooperate with one another towards a mutual goal in a sensitive situation. However, that is EXACTLY what you must do. No matter the circumstances of your divorce, it will almost always be much easier for your children to hear about your divorce from both you and your spouse at the same time, presenting a unified front of love and support for your kids.
2) Plan and practice
You should not attempt to have the divorce discussion with your kids off the cuff. Plan ahead with your spouse what you are going to say, and what you are not going to say. There should be very specific points that you will want to touch on, and it can help to practice them ahead of time. If you try to make it up as you go, it will be easier to get caught up in the emotion of the moment and possibly say something you’ll regret later.
3) Schedule plenty of time
From a practical perspective, be sure you plan a specific time to have the conversation, and leave yourself plenty of time to have an in-depth discussion and answer all of your kids’ questions. Can you imagine how hard it would be to hear your parents are getting divorced and then have to cut the conversation short in order to go to school or some other planned event?
4) Be prepared for LOTS of questions
Depending on their age, your kids may have a lot of trouble comprehending what a divorce is going to mean for them and for you. They will probably have lots of questions for you and your spouse, and you should do your best to have answers prepared for the most likely questions like “Why can’t you work it out?,” or “Is it my fault?”
5) Be honest, but age-appropriate
Do your best, to be honest with your kids about your divorce and any other questions they may have—within reason. There are some details that young children simply do not need to be exposed to.
6) Never blame
Blame is a very instinctual feeling. We naturally search for causes to explain why things are happening, and it can be very easy to place blame on your spouse for the divorce. Even if it truly is entirely your spouse’s fault, placing blame while breaking the news to your kids is not going to do them any good.
7) Be specific about the future
Children crave consistency and security. Before you tell your kids, try to figure out as many details about the future as you can, so that you will be able to give them a specific plan for the future when you do tell them. This will go a long way towards helping them cope and adjust.
If you have more questions about helping children cope with divorce, or if you are facing a divorce and you need legal guidance, please contact the Law Offices of Kayleene Writer, PLC today to learn how we can help!