Telling your kids that you’re getting a divorce is one of the most difficult conversations you can have, but doing it right can put your family on the path to healing quicker. Your children will most likely remember how you handle it for the rest of their lives. There is no perfect or easy way to do it, but it’s important to try to do it with as much compassion and emotional support as possible. These tips might help to soften the blow.
Get Yourself and Your Spouse on the Same Page
When it comes time to tell your kids about your divorce, it’s critical to appear united in the decision. This conversation is about your children. It is about giving them support and safeguarding their emotional well-being. Even if you or your spouse is against the decision, for this conversation you should make it seem like the choice is mutual. Use language that demonstrates this to them—words like “we” and “our” are integral to showing them that even though you are divorcing you can still work together and be a family.
Make Sure the Whole Family Is Present
Many parents feel that this type of conversation is best one-on-one. Each child will react differently, and it’s easier to handle emotions without others present. However, some experts suggest that divorce is best discussed with the entire family. You can follow up with each child afterwards, but the initial conversation is about the family, so it should include the entire family.
Plan What You’ll Say and How You’ll Say It
Don’t go into this without planning what you’ll say to your children. Because this is such an important conversation, you don’t want to say something that you will regret. Take some time to come up with a plan, and cooperate with your spouse. Be sure to emphasize that the divorce is not their fault and that you will both love them no matter what.
Know That Not Everyone Will React the Same
No two people react the same to their parents telling them they are getting divorced. There could be crying or shouting, anger or grief. Or your child might be more concerned about how the divorce will affect their situation at the moment. For instance, some children will be concerned about whether they will have to change schools or if they can continue to participate in sports. These are natural reactions, as are sadness and anger. You never know how someone will react until you do it. Sometimes the crying comes later after the news has sunk in. The most important thing is to be there for your children and provide them with the support they need.
Be Open and Honest
This conversation will probably be the first of many with your kids. As you both adjust to life during and after divorce, it’s good to be open to answering any questions that your children may have. Be as honest with them as possible. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them that.
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