Finally speaking the words "I want a divorce," can be frightening, but also a huge relief for many people. Discussing the prospect of a divorce can be emotionally overwhelming for both spouses.
However, telling the children can be even more so. Regardless of their age, talking to the children about divorce can be a complex conversation to navigate. Here are some tips on how to approach that difficult conversation.
1. Make sure you tell the kids together
The entire family is going through this together, so it is essential for the whole family to be a part of this conversation. Even if parents argue or disagree, it is critical that they tell their children about their divorce together.
It is also helpful for parents to determine the narrative they will share with their children. As important as it is to be honest with the children, the children do not need to know all of the details about why their parents decided to divorce.
2. Tell them sooner rather than later
Many parents might believe they are protecting their children's happiness the longer they avoid telling them about the divorce.
However, that can only cause tensions to rise between the parents and the whole family. Children often understand more than adults think they do, and they might be even more upset about the divorce if they believe their parents hid it from them.
Once parents decide to end their marriage, then they should inform their children. This can help reduce everyone's stress.
3. Be prepared for the questions
The conversation does not end after parents initially tell their kids about the divorce.
Everyone knows children ask questions, and that does not change when they learn about their parents' divorce. Parents should prepare themselves for questions such as:
- Where will both parents live after the divorce?
- Where will the children live after divorce?
- Will they still be able to see both parents regularly?
- How will the family celebrate holidays?
- Will they go to the same school?
Children are just as nervous about life post-divorce as their parents are. Preparing answers to questions like these can help both parents and children reduce that uncertainty.
4. Reassure your children that you love them, no matter what
Unfortunately, many children think they did something wrong when their parents tell them about the divorce. It is helpful for parents to assure their children that although the parent's relationship is changing, nothing can change the love that each parent has for their kids.