Telling the kids about the divorce is a dreaded conversation. Everyone is nervous and anxious and sometimes very angry. Have a joint plan, practice it, and then implement it with love and flexibility because things never go as planned. The key is to avoid trauma and conflict. Present a united front.
Let the kids see how two adults can respectfully make a conscious choice to end a relationship... It is a great example you can give to your children for handling future conflict in their lives.
Some tips for telling your children that you and your spouse plan to divorce.
- Consult a counselor. Ideally, first talk to a counselor familiar with children and their stages of development. Depending on the children's ages, the way you tell them and the details you share may vary.
- Have a plan and answer questions frankly. Before you even sit down with the kids, come up with a plan for telling them. Be prepared to answer their questions in a frank, yet loving manner. Kids will want to know how their lives will be affected by the divorce. Address their concerns and answer them to the best of your ability. You might tell them, “Dad is going to live in another house and you will now enjoy time in 2 different homes.” If you do not know the answer, say so, but tell them you will work it out together.
- Reiterate love for your children. Begin and end the conversation by telling your kids that you love them and that nothing will ever change that. During this conversation and the upcoming rocky months ahead, ensure that you show them the love, support, and understanding they need as they learn to process everything that is happening. They will be grieving. This is a huge loss to kids, expect fear, anger and disbelief.
- Temper your personal hurts. This is not the time to make spiteful or hateful remarks, or to pin blame on the other parent. Sure, you may be hurting and angry over the divorce, but your kids are not your sounding board.
- Tell them together. If you can be in the same room with your ex without arguing, tell the children together. This might help reinforce that you still care about each other and that nobody is asking the children to choose one side or the other.