Divorce may be the last resort for most couples, but it’s the only option for some. Sometimes it’s better and healthier for all parties involved to go your separate ways. Things get complicated, however, when children come into the picture.
Divorce can be confusing and scary for kids. The question of how to tell children about divorce starts feeling like a heavy burden. It’s crucial you don’t leave your kids in the lurch.
Telling them is something you have to do with care and together as a family. It’s important for their emotional health, stability, and relationships that you tell them. This guide will walk you through how to tell your children about divorce while keeping their needs in mind.
Make a Plan
Sit down and hash out how the divorce will go and what you’ll tell your kids. A united front is crucial if you want your kids to take the news as well as possible.
Be prepared to answer any questions your kids will have and to give them a sense of clarity. Figure out how you plan to split custody, where each parent will be, and how this might interrupt your kids’ lives. Will they have to move, change schools, or otherwise change their daily routines?
One thing you need to plan is when to tell children about divorce. Doing it during a busy day or a special day like a birthday or holiday is a bad idea. Instead, pick a weekend when you can guarantee some close family time.
Timing is key, and so is being on the same page. Don’t fight and try not to get frustrated or angry – this will only hurt your kids.
Reassure All Your Kids, Together
Part of the idea of the united front is sitting all of your kids down together. It’s important when considering how to tell your children about divorce. Don’t divide and conquer and risk your kids feeling singled out.
Gather everyone together and put your plan into action, keeping in mind the age of your kids. It’s ok to have follow-up conversations with the older kids if you feel they need more detail.
If they hear about the divorce from their sibling and not from you, they’ll be understandably upset. The fact that both of you can share this news in a calm and respectful manner with your kids together will help. It will reassure your kids that whatever happens, you are still their parents.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
When it comes to children and divorce, never play the blame game. You might think your kids won’t care if the two of you fling mud at each other, but that’s not true. If your kids feel like their parents hate each other, they’ll feel torn and emotionally unstable.
Many of them will also feel like they have to choose sides, and this can hurt them.
When telling them the news, don’t fight. Don’t throw each other under the bus or yell and get frustrated. You might have some serious reasons for getting divorced, such as irreparable betrayal.
That said, it isn’t obvious who wins custody battles more, so making your former spouse your enemy is a bad idea. However, it’s also important to and put your kids first. Consider getting counseling or using a mediator if you find it hard to be civil with each other.
Under no circumstances should you snap at each other or take your frustration out on your kids. Your children are bound to ask questions, and some might show their frustrations. Take a deep breath and handle things one step at a time.
Give Your Kids a Reason
Your kids likely aren’t mature enough to understand the adult reasons for divorce. Don’t overwhelm them, but don’t leave them in the dark either. Come up with a reasonable general explanation, so your kids don’t blame themselves.
Once they’re older, such as teenagers, you might owe them a more detailed explanation. For now, it’s better you don’t go into the nitty-gritty. This is especially true if it involves betrayal or infidelity.
When deciding how to tell children about divorce, giving them an acceptable reason is a big deal.
Make Sure Your Kids Know What to Expect
The best way of helping children cope with divorce is by giving them a road plan, so they know what to expect. Let them know what aspects will be different and which ones won’t change. One of the most important things they should know is which parent is staying and which one is leaving.
They should also know any relevant dates or timelines for the divorce. It’s important they prepare themselves. On this note, tell them how much time they’ll be spending with each parent and where they’ll be living.
Answer any questions they might have, and listen to their concerns. The most important thing is everyone feels heard and understood.
Give Your Kids Time
Going through a divorce is often rough for children. Ideally, you’ve done everything you can to present a united front and reassure your children that everything will be ok. Despite this, your kids are bound to react, so you’re patient, and understanding is crucial.
It’s very important to know their reactions are valid, even their angry outbursts. Even a non-reaction is a reaction, as it could signal they’re overwhelmed and have shut down. As parents, you have to let them work through how they feel.
While this is happening, make sure to keep reassuring them that you both love them. It’s important they know that they did nothing wrong. Although some things might change, make sure to remind them of what won’t.
They shouldn’t lose either one of you, and they’ll still get to celebrate birthdays and Christmas. Your kids will still have their friends, school, and hobbies. It will be a delicate transition, so try not to overpromise things that are beyond your control.
That said, you can reassure your kids about the little things that make up their daily routines and give them stability.
How to Tell Children About Divorce
It isn’t easier going through a divorce, and it’s tougher on the children. Often they can feel like their whole world has gone upside down. The most important thing is the two of you sit down with your kids and have a careful and serious talk with them.
If you need any extra advice on how to tell children about divorce or how to handle the process, then don’t fret. Our site has several articles and extra info for you to look at.