Talking to Your Children About Your Divorce
When you walk down the aisle with that special person, the last thing on your mind is a divorce. But if the time comes when you both finally decide it’s best to go your separate ways, there remains a significant burden – how do you tell the kids?
No matter how prepared you feel, as parents we can’t help but question ourselves when it comes to our children. We struggle with the day-to-day parenting endeavors and now facing this tough conversation is one most parents dread. When it comes to talking to our children about our divorce, most of us find ourselves unsure of what or how much to tell them.
You’re likely still extremely emotional and worried that you may not be able to talk about the topic with your children calmly, or you may want to shield your children from all the happenings in the house altogether.
The truth is, having a conversation with your kids about your divorce is going to go a long way in preparing them both, physically and emotionally for the changes that lie ahead. But where do you begin? What will you say? What wont you say?
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, TALK TO THEM IN THE PRESENCE OF YOUR SPOUSE.
This may be difficult to accomplish because your divorce may be messy. But, jointly talking to the kids has a lot of benefits.
- When you and their other parent can come together it ensures your children are receiving the same information from both of you. This limits the amount of confusion and creates the needed stability in a trying time as this.
- You’re communicating to your children that you both are still united about something – being their parents.
- You’re creating the reassurance they need but may not ask for. They will see that both of you are going to work hard to create a new family structure, for them.
ALLOW THEM TO ASK QUESTIONS AND GIVE THEM HONEST ANSWERS.
All the questions you may have asked yourself when contemplating divorce are likely running through their minds. Where will we live? Where will mom/dad live? When will I see mom/dad?
Kids are smart, so be sure to answer their questions honestly. Lack of honesty and transparency can lead to resentment and anger later on. When we aren’t honest, kids often seek answers themselves or create their own emotionally charged, inaccurate answers.
Although, honesty and transparency is crucial, you must also bear in mind that your answers should be delivered with age appropriate boundaries.
Not all kids are the same. While some may have all the questions in the world and a few you didn’t think of, others may be hesitant or too overwhelmed to ask at the moment. You want to be prepared with a few topics to cover.
LET THE KIDS KNOW WHAT LIFE AFTER DIVORCE WILL LOOK LIKE.
Change is intimidating for most adults. Now imagine being a child learning about your parents’ divorce, this can be terrifying for your children. So, it is important that you let them know what they can expect. Be sure to tell them as best as possible, things like:
- Where everyone will live.
- How much time they will have with each parent.
- When will they see mom/dad.
- What this mean for their schooling.
- Most importantly they will be wondering WHY? Why are you getting divorced, why cant you just make-up? Be sure to practice this with your spouse and have a clear concise answer that is age appropriate for them to deal with the sensitive information.
You may not have all the answers right now and that’s ok. It’s also ok to tell your children that. If you are not sure about certain details, communicate to your kids that you will let them know as soon as a decision is reached. This will help ease some of the anxiety that comes with the whole process.
REASSURE YOUR CHILDREN.
They will have some fears, some maybe from what they learned from friends whose parents are divorced or from what they have seen in movies. In some cases, they may think they are the cause of the divorce or that their parents don’t love them anymore. So, try as much as possible to reassure them of your love and commitment to them and go the extra mile to encourage them in words and action. Tell them often and sincerely, how much you care for them and that your love for them will never change.
We know it is not easy communicating with your children in times like this, especially when you are trying to find your own way of handling it. If this is the case, DO NOT BE AFRIAD TO ASK FOR HELP. Engaging a therapist or extended family members can be helpful.
Whatever you have to do, don’t shy away from talking to your kids about your divorce and the changes they can expect. Providing them with honest, age appropriate answers and reassuring them of the things that wont change, your love for them, will better equip them to deal with the shock and allow them to start looking towards a peaceful future.